I’d like to wish a happy mother’s day to my favorite mothers. Namely, my all-time favorite, the one that birthed me and then did not immediately recognize me for the horror I am and dump me unceremoniously down a well. Probably because my mother is a teensy bit evil herself.
I actually have a lot of mothers – my friend’s best mom who is my “adoptive” mother, my mother-in-law who is nothing like the mothers-in-law about whom I’ll be talking shortly…I have a step-mom, too, though I wouldn’t call her evil, either.
And as it so happens, basically all people have mothers. It’s a fact of life that’s generally inescapable. Something has to bring you into this world. And usually that something is a someone.
Villains, of course, are no exception. (Except for the exceptions.)
So let’s take this lovely day of celebrating mothers to give a hand to the best mothers around: the evil ones.
We really do have to hand it to the evil step-mothers. They’re quite under-credited. Take, for example, the lovely lady pictured above. Lady Tremain undoubtedly well deserves her reputation as the most iconic evil stepmother. That Guy With the Glasses ranks her as the third most evil Disney villain out of his top eleven – that’s just under Malificent and Satan. However, even beyond Disney, she still serves as one of if not the most evil step-mother in any other movie adaptation of Cinderella – any that isn’t a spoof of some sort on the story.
Yet I would like to point out that she is also a good mother. The story is always about Cinderella, never Lady Tremain or her two daughters. Sure, they might be selfish, rude, ugly brats – and when I say ugly here, I’m not talking about their faces – but they’re still the Lady’s daughters and she does go out of her way for them. Being evil just means Lady Tremain has no moral qualms with stepping all over Cinderella as part of giving her daughters everything. Even in the adaptations where Lady Tremain is more interested in marrying the prince herself than truly having her daughters marry him, there’s still the interest in caring for her own children. If she’s princess and then queen, her now princess daughters can have just about anything they want. They will also marry into at least nobility, and Lady Tremain’s progeny down on will have a cushy life. If you know anything about actual medieval history, you know how hard it was to move up a rank at all so to get her family to a higher status, especially as a widow, is quite an effort indeed!
So thanks, Lady Tremain – thanks for being such a great mom. And hey – if it weren’t for your attempts to completely ruin Cinderella’s life, she never would have gotten a fairy godmother, so your needs for her to be your complete slave served her ends, too! And thanks to all the other evil stepmothers who were such devoted mothers to their own daughters (why is it always girls?) and were inadvertently able to allow their step daughters to reach their dreams by receiving a daily dose of cruelty. Or twenty.
And who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned evil (or at least obnoxious) mother-in-law? The wife, that’s who. Sometimes the husband. Now, I could get into the psychology of a mother-in-law hating her daughter-in-law but that would also involve getting into things like oedipal complexes and I’d rather not – if for no other reason than it would digress too far from the topic at hand. However, the underlying feelings of a mother-in-law – a MIL? fighting the wife do appear to be that the MIL thinks the wife is not adequate for her son, probably because the wife is not enough like the MIL herself, and that the son should return to his mother’s care which is, of course, adequate. Or perhaps she feels threatened that the daughter-in-law has replaced her, and now her son will no longer cleave to her. Which is, after all, actually the point of a wife, so the daughter-in-law cannot really do anything about the enmity, no matter how nice she is. It isn’t that the MIL wants her son to be with a really good woman. She wants her son to be with her (remember, not touching the oedipal complex!). And of course, when a mother of the bride begins warfare on the groom, the motivation is that she doesn’t think he’s good enough for her. (I accidentally typed ‘god enough’ originally, but as I corrected it, I realized that’s just about the standard those MILs tend to have for their sons-in-law.)
Now as annoying as a sabotaging, nosy, and/or interfering mother-in-law is, as much as the idea of an over-bearing parent makes us all shudder – even the over-bearing parents – the motivations behind the MIL indicate she is a good mother. Or at least she’s trying to be. She might have flaws, such as narcissism concerning her skills as a mother, or unattainable standards (god enough!) but don’t we all have flaws? The important thing here is that the mother just wants what’s best for her child, even if her understanding of “what’s best” is misguided or unrealistic. And what good mother does not want what’s best for her child?
So let’s give another round of applause to all those mothers-in-law who don’t care about things like love and companionship or trying to actually empathize with their child in favor of being the best mom ever and caring about their child’s actual needs – and by actual needs I mean the made-up needs that are all a part of the evil MIL’s psychosis.
Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to my mother-in-law who is definitely neither evil nor obnoxious, despite the fact that there’s nothing more alarming than when your son actually marries his psycho girlfriend! (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom O!)
And then, of course, there are the good old regular evil mothers. There’s so many of them, and so many types, from the mother that micromanages every last point of her kid’s life, especially if their kid is heir to the throne to the ones that murder and destroy every last obstacle on their kid’s way to the throne (or at least a huge inheritance). Hey, these moms just want the best for their kid.
That’s what every good mother wants. Some mothers are just less moral and more insane than others. I know I’ll be one of those, and I want flowers and chocolate and crappy, hand-drawn cards from my kids, too! Er – I mean…and all mothers have their flaws, so just a lack of morals or sanity is no reason not to honor your mother*.
And remember – everyone has some sort of mother, even villains. Except the ones that were birthed from the void, and those villains tend to be lame, or at least cliche in a bad way. So don’t forget to honor mothers by giving your villain a mother, too, even if she’s an unspeakable abomination. If nothing else, it’s not at all a stretch to count someone who mothers another person as a mother. My “adoptive” mother is just as much a mother to me as my real mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!
*Rii does not endorse abusive mothers in this post. Abusive mothers are not good mothers. Rii is also not endorsing the idea that children need to put up with the crap of their toxic mothers who ruin their lives if they have the ability not to do so; this post is meant as a writing tool and a switching of perspective as well as a hilarious, villain-themed Mother’s Day post. All flowers and chocolate accidentally purchased in any confusion on this subject that you no longer want to send to your terrible mother, mother-in-law, or step-mother may be sent to me, your benevolent overlord, instead. Unless you have any lillies. Those are bad for cats.