I read the articles lamenting the lack of mothers in kid literature and princess films and kid stories  generally. I rolled my eyes every time a mother was absent in the stories I read or saw with my children. But today, the last   day of Princess Camp with my oldest daughter, I understood.

We watch and talk about a princess movie with elevensies

The mothers are telling the stories. I tell the stories. My mom and grandma and aunts told me the stories. They aren’t anti-mama. They’re armor against our darkest what ifs. If I can’t be there for my joys, my loves, my children, I want them to survive. I want them to thrive. 

The orphan stories that shape our childhoods are the mothers’ attempts to place a catch net under the fall of grief. If I am taken from you, dear ones, I want you to bounce. I want you to know you can keep going. You can work your way to glory, even with a hateful stepmother who does no more than feed you. Your beauty is the beauty in my eye, and it will not fade when my eyes close.

Your calling will still wait for you. My love will still go with you. Even if you’re so lonely and sad that you talk to mice. I know you’re good. I know your goodness. If you can’t stand on my shoulders to reach the high fruits, at least I can leave you a ladder.

Climb the stories of resilience and perseverance and hard work. Don’t believe any liars that come around (Voldemort), even if they hold open an elevator to the top. Avoid the soul eaters of greed and bitterness. If I were there, I would stand by you like I did when you were little. Hands on hips, pudgy fingers pointing, we’d shout, “No, no, bad guys! You may NOT!”

I hope and pray I’ll be there for you. My eyes would shine to see you come into your glory. I hope you get to have me to kiss your beautiful heads when you’re middle aged.

But someday, I’ll only be a story you tell. I hope it’s a good one. But even more, I hope your story is good. I would be glad to be a paragraph in the introduction to your hagiography. 

Their mother was devout and loved them, even if she was a bit mad. [illustration: Feminized Mad Hatter at Tea, using teacup to burn incense]

Being a child bearer is tough work. All of us who take up the call to nurture children realize how short sighted the small ones can be. Their needs are immediate and loud. Day by day they become more capable, but the sureness of death kindly evades them most of the time. That’s why we tell the stories of lean times. 

Once upon a time, you will keep going, and you will shine.