Fairy Tales Make For Dead Mothers

Gustave Dore Mother Goose

For years, I edited as I read aloud to my daughters: “Cinderella’s father went away and she was left with a cruel stepmother.” But now that she can read, Maia corrects me: “it says died, Momma, her father died.” Snow White/Beauty and the Beast/Pocahontas are easier, as the heroines’ (dead) mothers often aren’t mentioned. The mother – my role – has  been edited out for me. It’s strange to read so many stories that suggest I do not exist.

Because my daughters love magical fairy tales and heroic mythologies, I’d love to introduce them to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. But both heroes grieve for mothers who die early in their stories, in great anguish and at the hands of evil forces. The one who lived loses his father, too, to he who must not be named. More than not mentioned, here parents die unmentionably. Continue reading