Mother’s Day is just around the corner. And as I reflect on the intricate and beautiful nature of God’s creation, one of the things that always amazes me is how God has uniquely equipped women with the ability to carry new life.
But clearly, motherhood involves far more than simply being able to give birth. Those whom the Lord blesses to this role are called to nurture their children with a tender and unconditional motherly love. They, like husbands, are called to teach their children right and wrong, to protect them and to sacrificially love them.
In our broken world, it can be hard for mothers to accomplish those duties. Our sinful souls can attempt to pull us away from our God-given duties into selfish pursuits. And even when mothers succeed most of the time, we’re all human. We all fail at times—even loving moms. Paragraphs and pages could be written on how our spiritual battle can affect our parental roles without even scratching the surface of the topic.
But the constant battle we all face makes motherhood worth celebrating all the more—that despite all of the struggles, distractions and roadblocks, millions of mothers are actively doing their best to love their children as much as possible. And when one of those roadblocks trips them up, they get back up and continue in their unconditional love. It’s a love that persists, even for a child who may not appreciate all of the work that goes into a mother’s love for them. And maybe, that last sentence is telling: After all, it reflects the patience and love that God shows for us wayward sinners.
So just as we appreciate all that our mothers have done for us, we at Plugged In wanted to highlight several mothers of movies that we thought did quite a good job, too. And after reading through our list, we hope you show your mother just how much you appreciate all she’s done for you.
And, of course, be sure to check out the full reviews of any of the films we’ve talked about here before you consider watching them with your family.
(Movie synopses written by Kennedy Unthank and Paul Asay.)
Evelyn Abbott, A Quiet Place (PG-13, 2018)
Motherhood can be a challenging calling even in the best circumstances. But when you’ve got deadly aliens ready to eat you if you make the slightest noise—well, that’s a special sort of challenge. Evelyn is not only trying to keep two young children alive in unimaginable conditions, but she’s teaching them how to laugh and love and survive on their own. Not only that, but she’s determined to bring a new child into the world: Several months pregnant when the film begins, Evelyn’s preparing her family for the challenges a baby will bring to their lives. And babies can be a little noisy at times. While A Quiet Place is tense and often terrifying, it’s also the stage for one of moviedom’s bravest, most caring moms.
Laurel Lightfoot, Onward (PG, 2020)
You could argue that Pixar’s Onward is more about Dad than Mom. That is, after all, who elves Ian and Barley Lightfoot try to conjure back into existence in this rollicking quest. But Laurel’s influence on her boys is obvious. Ever since her husband died, she’s raised these two very different kids on her own—caring for them, guiding them and helping keep their father’s memory alive. And when they traipse off to spend some precious time with their father, Laurel goes on her own improbable adventure to keep her kids safe. It’s pretty obvious that, without Laurel, Ian and Barley might’ve well ended up as dragon food. But without her years of conscientious parenting, you have to wonder whether they would’ve had the fortitude to go on this quest in the first place.
Marmee March, Little Women (PG, 2019)
The March sisters are as different as different can be. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, their own dreams and ambitions: Meg struggles with vanity, Amy with selfishness, Joe with pride. But they share one beautiful thing: immense love for each other. And for that quality, you can thank their mother, Marmee. She rears her headstrong daughters with love, patience and, when required, a firm-but-gentle hand. Even though the family doesn’t have much, she encourages them to be generous and kind. She models the behavior she wants to see in her children, too, donating her own clothes toward the war effort. And when she confesses to Jo that she’s not a patient person by nature—in fact, she’s often quite angry—Jo’s shocked. But that confession of weakness encourages Jo to change her own behavior. That’s a nice reminder to us, that sometimes even our own weaknesses can be helpful. In Little Women, Marmee stands tall.
Helen Parr, The Incredibles (PG, 2004)
When it comes to movies about parenting and family, you’ll notice that we often laud The Incredibles, a story about a family of superheroes struggling to figure out how to survive in middle-class normalcy. The film focuses on parents Bob and Helen Parr, a father and mother learning just what parenting a trio of superpowered children looks like. And when it comes to moms, Helen would be considered a superhero even without her elastic abilities. Helen grapples with raising up superpowered children into respectable, mild-mannered citizens. But when danger strikes, she’s quick to don her mask once more. Sure, she’d much rather live a quiet suburban life, but when the bullets start flying, Helen puts her life on the line to protect her children above all else—and that makes her choices all the more loving and sacrificial.
Isabel Pullman, Wonder (PG, 2017)
August Pullman—Auggie for short—doesn’t look like a wonder to most folks. To a few mean-spirited, short-sighted folks, he looks more like a horror. He was born with a congenital disorder that disfigured him and nearly killed him. Eleven years and 27 surgeries later, Auggie can function just about as well as kids his age. But he doesn’t look like them. And he’s terrified of going to school. His mother, Isabel, understands the fear. But she understands that her boy will need courage, too (just as anyone does). He needs to live a normal life. And so, as Auggie goes through the ups and downs of school, Isabel is always there to encourage Auggie, lift his spirits, push him sometimes and hug him always. Just as a good mother should.
Leigh Anne Tuohy, The Blind Side (PG-13, 2009)
Leigh Anne wasn’t looking to adopt another kid—especially not one so big. She already has two children, thanks. Michael Oher just needed a little fresh food and a place to stay for a night. But when Leigh Anne ushers the hulking high schooler into her home, that one night of kindness stretches into weeks, then months, then eventually into a full-fledged adoption. It’d be tempting to see this story as centered around an act of charity: going above and beyond to help a teen who desperately needed it. And maybe that’s how the story started out. But let’s remember that parenthood isn’t just about the love and care we give. It’s about the love and learning we receive in return. Michael’s kindness and care turns the Tuohy family upside-down in the best of ways, and Leigh Anne becomes a better mother, and woman, because of him. When one of her friends tells Leigh Anne how wonderful it is that she’s changing Michael’s life, Leigh Anne insists she has it all wrong. “He’s changing me.” What mom can’t relate to that?
We’ve come to the end of the list. Now, we’d like to ask you, what do you think about it? Who would you add to it?
-Here’s another great movie mother: Sarah Connor from the “Terminator” series!
– I forgot another great movie mom: Perdita from the original 1961 “One Hundred And One Dalmatians”!
-I’d add Yor Forger from Spy X Family to this list. She had to raise her brother on her own and as a child, took a job as an assassin to keep them alive. Despite all the struggles she’s been through, she does her best to be a good mother to Anya. She hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet (her cooking skills are deadly, and not in the good kind of way), but she’s eager to learn. She’s protective and sweet. I love how she’s strong, but still very feminine: it’s not too often that you see good representation of dynamic female characters in media (they’re often either extremely girly or extremely tough). I also think it’s incredibly special that she’s an office worker AND a mother: there’s quite a bit of discrimination that working mothers face, particularly in Japan (from what I know). From my research, women in Japan are often forced to pick between having a career and having a family. Maternity harassment seems to be a significant problem in Japan (or at least, it was a few years ago). So, it’s really cool that there’s now a popular manga/ anime which depicts a working woman who is ALSO a wonderful mother.
-* reads title of blog post again * Ahhh… I can’t believe it, how could I miss the fact that this is a MOVIE post?! “Movie”, not “tv show” or “anime”! Come to think of it, that’s the kind of mistake Yor would probably make… Well, my point still stands.
There’s a movie coming out later this year, so Yor (lol) comment totally counts!
– I LOVE Spy X Family. I guess it would be a bit much for younger families, but we have older teenagers, and the strong family messages are wonderful, plus it’s hilarious while also being poignant at times. Yor is a great mom, and I’m glad they made her such a complex relatable character. This is easily the best tv show that has come out in years. (Kudos to Wingfeather too!) Spy X Family is ELEGANT! (iykyk)
-Great article and reviews of mothers in the movies, Kennedy. Sure appreciate your stuff, especially on the podcast that I always look forward to listening to! Happy Mother’s Day to your mom and God bless everyone (and their moms) at the Plugged In team!