Tell Me S'More About Motherhood

by Rhonda Grmela

Mothers in Novels

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

It was my pleasure to read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells as the book I chose to read for the novel presentation. This story is a different representation about how children view their mothers and the relationship between a mother and daughter. Written in 1996, the story takes place in the 1980s with memories from the 1930s and 1940s. Within the novel there are flashbacks to help piece together the story of how the main character, Sidda, wants to understand her mother’s past in order to put together her own life. The story taught me to look at my mothers life in a new perspective and made me realized how much parents can really influence their children.

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Mothers in Film

Sleeping Beauty

Set in the late 1600's, the story of Sleepy Beauty is told in many forms. The film I chose watch was the Disney version, produced in the 1950's. The main mother figures in this story line are three fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Each provide a special gift to help Princess Aurora live a fulfilling life. When she is suddenly cursed by the evil witch, Malificent, the fairies take over as the protecting forces to keep her from harms way. Throughout the film, they play the roles of her three aunts but still remain the nurturing characters in her life. They are protective when she meets a boy, have "mother and daughter" fights, and also have a sense of humor when it comes dealing with hard circumstances. The fairies are an excellent example of how mothers are protective, caring and want the best for their children no matter what it costs them to get there.

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Mothers in Television

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Mothers in television today is vastly different compared to forty years ago. Shows such as Leave it to Beaver or I Love Lucy show mothers as ignorant, dumb or as an object to their husbands. They are dressed to the nines and have a life revolving around their family and housework. Today, motherhood is shown in a more realistic way. Mothers, such as Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, are seen having real life problems, working, crazy, and having a sense of humor. Shows in this generations accepts the roles mothers have whether they are going to a ridiculous day or are imperfect.

Advertisement Project

For my advertising project, I chose three commercials that vary about the different types of mothers and mothering experiences. My first commercial was for Pampers and is the one shown down below. I felt like this commercial was an accurate description about what all mothers do to protect and care for their children to make them happy. The second commercial was about how mother's try to make fantastic lunches and be a perfectionist. The third commercial was the Canon: A Mother's Touch, which showed how life is viewed from the eyes of the mother. In this particular commercial you can see how involved a mother is in the life of her children and family. This was probably one of my favorite projects just because many of the commercials were a more accurate view of motherhood and I felt like all of my respondents thought so as well when compared to printed ads or older ads.
Pampers | Hush Little Baby | #BetterForBaby

Magazine Project

Ladies Home Journal: 1960

The magazine project of Ladies Home Journal: 1960 was a little more surprising and harder to do that originally anticipated. When first trying to find the magazines in the library, my group and I had to figure out how to use microfilm. We then found things you wouldn't expect in the 1960's such as ads about women buying their own cars and driving themselves instead of a man doing it for them or articles about traveling without their husbands. The most frequent type of article or ad to show up throughout the months had to deal with food. Whether that be recipes or advertisements about a certain product, food made up 35% of what was included in all the magazines. Another type of ad that was popular was over fashion and beauty which focused on how to make yourself desirable to men and make other women jealous. Many other categories such as housekeeping, love and marriage, and motherhood were also popular topics. When looking at the other groups decades in different magazines, I noticed how vastly different this decade was to the others in terms of how women were represented: an object.

The Feminine Mystique

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan seemed like an obvious afterthought when compared to modern day society. While reading this book, I often thought how obvious all of these problems were or that all of the actions women were taking were trivial matters that I don't even think of as an advantage in my own life today. What was most shocking to me was trying to read it as if I was a woman in the 1960's. Everything that was being said and written would have seemed like such a relief at the time to know that I wasn't the only one that felt guilty for being unhappy. The theme of the whole novel incorporated the unhappiness of women and how they felt useless because their only point of life was being a mother and housewife. Women wanted something more than cooking and cleaning and it was interesting for me to think about my grandmother growing up in this era and how she is still the one that cooks and cleans when I come to visit her now. The novel by Betty Friedan made me realize how much the equal rights movement has progressed in the last few decades.

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Disney Films

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Out of the many Disney films we discussed in class, I chose The Aristocats, which is one of my all time favorite Disney movies. Throughout the story, the mother Duchess, is trying to keep her children happy after being "catnapped" and finding their way back home. Duchess portrays a more motherly figure compared to many other Disney movies because she is seen as loving, nurturing and caring. In other Disney movies, mothers are seen as non-present or trying to marry their child offer to a proper suitor. Whether that allows for more character development or not, mothers in Disney movies are not likely to be found. As for Duchess, she maintains the nurturing mother character while still remaining calm and spunky.

Teen Movies and TV Shows

While growing up, I never realized how many different perspectives there are in the shows I watch, the books I read or even the music I listen to. There is always a different angle that people can interpret or view what is being presented in front of them. When looking at teen television shows, One Tree Hill, caught my eye. The main mother figure, Karen, is a typical mother figure because she is loving and caring towards her son. She works hard to help the family and always does the "right thing." On the other hand, in teen television shows, there are also mothers who are terrible role models. Cersei in Game of Thrones can be seen in two lights: a mother who loves her son or a helicopter mom. How television portrays mothers can be a large influence in how teens boys and girls expect their lives to be in the future, or how they don't want them to be.

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Children's Books

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Like Disney films, children's books often portray an imaginary tale. There is a low number of books that have a mother figure and if so, portray motherhood in a negative light. When examining books such as Thumeblina, mothers are viewed as wanting to marry their children off. Others like the Grimm tales offer no mother figure whatsoever. Books include a quest or an adventure for the protagonist to solve or an obstacle they have to go through which helps them build their personality and/or character.


Throughout the semester, the surveys sent out to my group of mothers collected an interesting arrangement of answers. In class we created three different surveys ranging from basic backgrounds, to media and the how much the children of our mothers participate in media fields. Most of my mothers responded with normal or typical responses. My favorite responses included the open ended response questions because it allowed for me to see how my mothers really interpreted the information we were asking them. When asking them about particular commercials, I expected one answer and the majority of mothers would give me a different answer. This project allowed me to see how my expectations were definitely wrong and to not assume something I haven't experienced myself. With all of the feedback in mind, I approach motherhood through various mediums in a different way because I want to to be able look at mothers in an open way.

Music Presentation

Thank You Mom by Good Charlotte

When I first selected this song by Good Charlotte, I was a little apprehensive about what my mother would think and still am. I am a fan of rock music but my mother is definitely not. I had never heard the song before and could only imagine her reaction if the song was paired to represent our relationship with pictures included in the project just by knowing the band. After listening to the song the first time, I played it in on repeat a few more times because it made me really nostalgic to think about saying "thank you" to my mom for everything she has done for me. It's different to say thank you after an event or occurrence but to basically say thank you for teaching me to be the person I am today is something more emotional and harder to do. I plan to give her the music project we made in class as a Mother's Day gift and I'm really excited to say thank you in a different kind of way besides a physical present or card.

Interview Project

Throughout the course of my college career, I started out by not calling home very often my freshman year to calling her almost every day my senior year. I've gotten to know my mother in a new light as I start my transition into the working world and I realized how much I never knew about her and have learned new stories about her past. The interview project with my mom turned out to be more emotional than expected. I had simple questions prepared but it turned out that they pulled at the heart and some answers made us both cry. I learned about how my granny raised her and their mother and daughter relationship as well as many interesting things about her dating relationship with my dad. Of all the projects I've done in school, I feel like this one was the most rewarding and definitely one that I benefited from because of the connection I made with my mom.

Summary of COMM 411

In Communication 411: Representations of Motherhood, I have learned not only about mothers in general but how I view my own mother. I have examined our relationship and have discovered why I was raised a certain way, how she was raised, her past, societal issues that influenced her decision making and the like. I have also learned the kind of mother that I want to be one day. I have seen all sides of the spectrum, from Betty Friedan's, The Feminine Mystique, views to how mothers are portrayed through commercials in modern day society. There are different aspects to how mothers are seen as good or bad. Within the course of the semester, I have learned to examine material that is presented in front of me in a different light. I look at television shows, Disney movies and even commercials to see how the mom in that particular setting is being portrayed. I can definitely say that this class has challenged the way I think of motherhood and how it is represented in the different mediums one can face in life and I honestly believe that it will greatly benefit me in the future.

A Letter to my Momma

Hi Momma,

Writing a letter that I may or may not show you is a little odd. You know that I get very uncomfortable expressing my feelings and that sometimes I do things in a roundabout way... such as maybe sending you all of these projects links in an email for Mother's Day and not saying anything else about it.

I chose the class COMM 411: Representations of Motherhood because I needed this last credit but also because I called you every day last semester since it was so hard. I think you realized I was growing up and I feel like I learned more about you as the semester went on. So I thought, why not choose a class that's dedicated to mothers as kind of a tribute to all you do for me.

During class, I have learned how motherhood has changed over the last sixty years and how your role in our family has shaped the person I am today. There are many things I wouldn't have been able to do without your guidance and support and for that I am forever grateful and it's something that I have never realized before. I know the kind of mother I want to be is very similar, if not exactly the same as how you raised me because I feel like I turned out pretty great :)

Like the song that Good Charlotte sang, I want to thank you for all of your love, kindness, and caring acts you have done for me and I wouldn't be the successful person I am today without it.

I hope you have enjoyed all of my projects summaries and the like, they were completed with you in mind.