Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes “classic” as “serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value” and “typical.” . It is one of those amorphous words like “art.” Difficult to describe“but I know it when I see it.” In TV Land we have, June Cleaver a classic mom for the time when everyone tuned their TVs to see “Leave It To Beaver.” Then there is Edith Bunker, Roseanne Barr, and Marge Simpson all classic moms, yet with different personality types. American Movie Classics still airs the movie “I Remember Momma” a classic movie mom is every way, as is the mom in the “Terminator” movie series, both quite different yet both classics.
Today, we have the television show, “Desperate Housewives.” Most of the women on Wisteria Lane are also moms but very different types. So what ties these women together? I think what makes up this kind of classic mom is the love they give to their children and sacrifices they make for them. Each one gave not only birth and life to bring a child into the world, or went in search for one to adopt; they went on to give a part of their lives every minute, every day putting their children first. This is not to say that classic moms are always right, just that they never stop trying. It does not matter if the child is good or bad they just go on loving, like the mom Sly & the Family Stone sang about in “It’s a Family Affair.”
This description could also describe the stereotypical moms, the Italian momma who says “Mangia” the Jewish mother serving her bowl of chicken soup and the “dragon” mother who drives her child to do better than their best. They may not be right, but it is not because they do not try. Classic moms can also describe most of our own moms the everyday humans who raise most of the children of the world. These moms are not necessarily good or bad, but they form a category of their own. Her you could find every mother who makes chicken soup for cold, hands out a sweater whenever a child walks out the door. You could almost imagine a parade of them marching along chanting, eat your vegetables, do your homework, make your bed, and wash your hands. They are the ones who ask ”if your friends jumped off a bridge would you do that too?”
It would be nice if the definition of classic mom ended there, but it does not. There is always the “Mommy Dearest” classic bad mom. These include the cruel, drug addicted and neglectful moms some of whom make headlines for their hurtful ways. In their own ways, they are also classics, but for the negative impact on their children’s lives. They are “bad” moms, but unfortunately, there are enough of them to form a genre of their own. These moms are wantonly cruel full. They may sell their children for booze or drugs the way Charles Manson did. They may lavish them with affection in public and torment them at home the way Christina Crawford describes her mother.
In the end, it still comes down to love, ideally two ways but not always. It could be either the love a mother has for her child or the love the child feels for the mother. In any case, it is that unconditional wellspring of affection reserved for the woman who brought us into their world for better or for worse.
Merriam-Webster. "Definition of CLASSIC." 2012. Merriam-Webster. 15 09 2012