Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the woman who raised us. But this holiday can be bittersweet for those who never had the chance to know their mother, or lost her too soon. If you’re a passenger in that boat, you are certainly not alone in reality, and in fiction. There are several characters who we can look to as we remind ourselves that even though our mom might not be celebrating with us on Mother’s Day, it will all be okay.
Harry’s life didn’t start out great — in fact, that’s a major understatement. He lost both parents to the Dark Lord and was raised within the confines of the Dursley home, where he was tormented on a daily basis.
But under these awful circumstances, Harry found a way out (Hogwarts) and became the best wizard he could possibly be (defeated Voldemort). He leaned on his friends and allies when he needed to, and became part of a community that loved him. They raised him up and let him reach his full potential.
Sabrina Spellman is a unique motherless character. Her mortal mother is still alive, but will turn into a ball of wax if she sets eyes upon her daughter. This curse was a way for The Witches Council to discourage mortal-witch marriages.
Sabrina does have the chance to meet her mother and learn valuable mother-daughter lessons from her, but lives with the guilt that she could be the cause of her mother’s future demise.
Sabrina is lucky to have her aunts Hilda and Zelda acting as surrogate mothers, raising her and teaching her the ways of the witch. From Sabrina, we learn that we must accept the hand that has been dealt and appreciate the ones who step up to help us through challenging times.
3D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle Tanner
Full House is known for its corny comedy and uplifting messages. But the Tanner family has a tragic backstory that is rarely mentioned. D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle’s mother Pamela was killed by a drunk driver six months after giving birth to Michelle. This horrible event set up the storyline in which Danny Tanner moves in with Pamela’s brother, Jesse, and longtime friend, Joey.
In several episodes, including the one where Stephanie is invited to the Honeybee mother/daughter slumber party, the Tanner girls express their love and longing for their mother. But they also realize how lucky they are to have three father figures in their mother’s place. Danny, Jesse, and Joey can never replace Pam, but they are more than able to raise D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle with all the love they can muster.
4Lilo and Nani Pelekai
Lilo and Nani both lost their mother and father in a car accident and were forced to learn the value of ‘ohana (“‘Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten!”) without their completed family. Nani becomes Lilo’s legal guardian and acts as her surrogate mother.
Even with the loss of their parents, the girls stay true to the meaning of ‘ohana. They adopt Stitch and soon become part of Stitch’s extended family, including “Uncle” Jumba and “Aunt” Pleakley. The girls learn that ‘ohana is not necessarily those who you share blood with.
5George Michael Bluth
The dry and quirky comedy of Arrested Development makes light of every nutty situation the characters get into. But underneath the hilarity, there’s a sadder, more heartfelt story about George Michael’s mother and Michael Bluth’s wife, Tracy. Tracy supposedly passed away from ovarian cancer, causing Michael Bluth to realize that he needs to grow closer to his son, George Michael.
Although the Bluth family is extremely dysfunctional, George Michael loves each and every one of them with his pure and innocent heart. He looks at the best in everyone and appreciates everything life gives him.
After Blossom’s mother decides to pursue her life/career dreams, Blossom and her brothers and father are left to readjust to life without mom. Blossom somewhat cluelessly navigates the world of womanhood without the aid of her mother, leaving the Russo men to step up to the motherhood plate.
Even though it stings to not have her mother there when she needs her, Blossom allows her father to be both mother and father. She doesn’t let her bitterness hold her back from becoming the person she wants to be, but instead realizes she has a wonderful support system in her father, brothers, and best friend, Six, that will always be there to encourage her.
Finding Nemo is a story that deals more with Marlin’s recovery after his wife’s untimely passing than Nemo’s, but we can still learn a lot from both characters. Nemo never got the chance to meet his mother, and being the last baby to survive the barracuda attack, his father Marlin is constantly panicking about Nemo’s well-being.
Throughout the film, Marlin is constantly fearing that his son will never be returned and that he will end up alone in the wide open ocean. In order to stay strong and hopeful, Marlin has to “just keep swimming.” What will be, will be, and worrying and dwelling on the past will not improve the future. In the end, everything will — and does — end up okay.
8Almost every Disney princess
Ariel, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Belle, Elsa and Anna — even Bambi — are all motherless. It’s kind of the Disney way to introduce main characters without mothers. According to longtime Disney producer, Don Hahn, there’s actually a reason for this.
Disney films are all about watching the main characters take responsibility and grow up, Hahn says. It’s a quick way to induce the main character’s growth and maturing. When applied to the real world, losing a mother does force someone to grow up and take on a lot of physical and emotional responsibility.
As long as you build up support in friends and family, taking on life without your mother can be a bit less daunting. Don’t be afraid to lean on others and show your vulnerability. You won’t be the only one hurting from this loss, so comfort each other.
On Mother’s Day, share fond memories of Mom and celebrate the person who was there to take her place. Appreciate the time you had and the people who stepped up to help you become the person you are today.