Warning: Spoilers for Arrow seasons 1 & 2
As a lifelong geek, when I became a mother I didn’t have access to many good examples of motherhood in the stories I enjoyed. Most of the moms in stories are absent (died in childbirth is a popular one), clueless, or vaguely benevolent (and then murdered by bandits or demons or time travelling killer robots, probably). And mainstream media is probably not much better. (I say “probably” because I frankly don’t know.) You’ve got the psycho Mommy Dearest types, or the Heroically Dying of Cancer moms … what else? I’m sure I don’t know.
My own mother is an amazing woman (hi, Ma!) who raised me under challenging circumstances while building a business from the ground up, and it goes without saying (but I’m gonna say it anyway) that I admire her extremely. However, she’s a milder and probably kinder person than I am, and since I was a kid when she was dealing with some of her particular challenges, it’s safe to say I wasn’t really paying attention to how she did it.
So what’s a geek mom with a yen for stories to do? Who do you model yourself after? Because one thing stories do is get into our hearts and souls and show us how to be.
(Side note: I am a Catholic, and that means I should probably be modelling myself after Mary, mother of Jesus–but I admit I find her baffling and inaccessible, because other than storing things up in her heart and having that same heart pierced by a sword also, I’m not really sure what she did or how her example is useful in the day-to-day trenches of motherhood. Further note that this is a problem with me and not at all a problem with Mary.)
Enter Arrow‘s Moira Queen.
When the show began, I’m afraid I didn’t pay much attention to Oliver’s (i.e. the Green Arrow’s) mother. She seemed like she was going to be Evil Mom, or maybe Ruthless Businesswoman First and Mom Second, neither of which are tropes that interest me. As the series progressed, however (and the writing improved), I began to take notice.
The first thing that attracted me to Mrs Queen was her courage. In the Season 1 episode The Odyssey, the Hood–Arrow–Vigilante guy–confronts her in her office; she pretends terror and helplessness–and then grabs a gun and shoots him. (Of course, she doesn’t know she’s shooting her own son, but hey. Nobody is perfect!) Now, we could talk about the difference between moral courage and physical courage–but the fact is, Moira has both.
That doesn’t mean she’s perfect. This is a woman with a history of making seriously bad decisions. To list a few: she had an affair with (ewwww!) Malcolm Merlyn, bore his child, and lied about said child’s parentage. She collaborated on “The Undertaking,” and was complicit in the earthquake device’s completion and implementation. She betrayed a colleague to save her own skin (and her kids’). She made shady business deals. She was way too comfortable telling lies. Some of these acts are mistakes, and some of them are deliberate decisions–and either way, her moral compass definitely does not point True North.
However, her flaws are part of what draw me to her. (I admit, I have a Thing for ruthless and amoral characters; f’rinstance, my favorite characters on Heroes were Nathan Petrelli and Adam Monroe.) After all, I am a flawed creature too–horribly imperfect. The Blessed Virgin can show us perfection within purely human parameters, but characters like Moira show us how to be great in spite of our brokenness.
Because Moira is great. When the revenge-bent, psychotic murderer Slade kidnaps the entire Queen family and demands that Oliver choose whom Slade shall kill, his mother or his sister, Oliver is horrified, but Moira steps forward with magnificent courage and volunteers, thus saving her daughter from death and her son from a cruel and impossible choice. Unhesitating, unflinching, she lays down her life for her children. Even Slade admires her. (Not that the admiration of Slade is something to be desired!)
Moira doesn’t jump off rooftops or punch bad guys in the face, but she is a hero nonetheless: an imperfect mother who is willing to sacrifice herself (and anyone else too, but like I said, she is not perfect!) for the good of her children. Although kidnapping, assassination, and bribery are probably not good things to be involved in, a geek mom like me can still be inspired by her example of selfless love.