Ode To the Middle-Aged Mama


We meet her first when she sends a scathing letter to her son—what JK Rowling terms a “howler.” Ron Weasley’s embarrassment makes us roll our eyes at the overbearing mother who scolds her son for all the world to hear.

Whoa, mama. take a step back.

She sends her youngest son and his best friend Christmas sweaters—enormous seeming wastes of yarn that swathe her children in embarrassment, again. (Let’s not even talk about the Yule robes.) We silently (or not so silently) laugh at the middle-aged woman who would create such things and believe they’re beautiful.

Then, we discover–we don’t know Molly Weasley at all.

Favorite Books and Favorite Heroes

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

While discussing books that have meant something to me, I thought a post on one of my favorite heroines might be fun. Mrs. Weasley. The quintessential mother hen. The character we instantly stereotype—a caring but essentially nonessential woman. What many teenage boys think of their mothers, we suppose. But we agree with that teenage boy, Ron. She’s a good heart, wrapped in mom jeans and irrelevant conversation.

Shows what we know.

Many years after reading Harry Potter, and after a dozen or more movie viewings, I’ve learned why Harry and Hermione don’t, after all, end up together. I’ve come to understand what it is about the Weasleys that draws them both into the family orbit.

It all centers on Molly. It always did.

Molly’s sweaters and letters show us something, if we’re really looking. We see in them, and their creator, a fierce loyalty and love for family that doesn’t care about embarrassment or anything else on its quest for insuring her offspring are safe and good people. Her love and loyalty drive everything—and they know nothing on earth that will intimidate them.

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Harry is drawn to something he’s never known. Hermione Is drawn to what she intentionally gave up (in my vote for saddest scene in all eight movies). There’s something about fierce love and loyalty that cannot help but pull in whatever circles it. It’s a black hole of sorts, but in a positive way.

Love and Loyalty for the Win

“Mrs Weasley threw off her cloak as she ran, freeing her arms. Bellatrix spun on the spot, roaring with laughter at the sight of her new challenger.”

Bellatrix never imagined this middle-aged mama could bring her down. To be fair to Bellatrix, neither did anyone else. We deeply underestimated the lady. We simply never saw what drove her to knit. To bake. To open her home to anyone in need. To risk everything when those “bonus kids” she loved were in deep danger. To bolster her husband’s work in defying evil.

We didn’t see that it was a great work of its own in the fight against evil, those clacking knitting needles and that open guest policy. We didn’t realize that what she really knit together was a web so strong it held and protected so many of the “good guys” we lost count.

I’m pretty sure I whooped too loudly in the theater when she made her heroic stand to protect her daughter. I saw, in that moment, what I should have seen before it. Molly Weasley had been saying, “Not my loved one, bitch” to evil for a very, very long time. And her loved ones were many.

We simply hadn’t noticed.

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Our Story, Too

Isn’t this the story of many middle-aged mamas? Isn’t this why we love her? We feel sometimes so mundane, so overlooked and pointless. Then we see someone who feels as we do about it all—and she doesn’t hold back.

She won’t be irrelevant, and maybe, in that moment, we recognize that we refuse to be as well. We realize we never were.

Women, we are knitting those webs, aren’t we? We’re holding the forces of evil at bay, too, but often in an unnoticed way, and the glory goes to the Harrys and not to the Mollys. It always does.

Yet we keep on knitting

Maybe not literally. I can’t knit to save my life. Yarn skills evade me. But without us, women, where would the fight be?

  • What children would not have been raised who are now the good people we imagined and fought for?
  • What injustices would still be occurring if we hadn’t written that letter or volunteered those hours?
  • Who would still be in despair if we hadn’t opened our ears, our hearts, our homes?
  • What life wouldn’t have been redirected if we hadn’t spoken those words, even in a howler, if the need decreed it?
  • What need wouldn’t have been met without our constant watch at the city gates—bringing casseroles, knitting scarves, cleaning toilets, and yes, protesting on the street corners, telling the truth about sexual abuse, and loving the other?

We underestimated women have known this since Shifra and Puah, since Abigail and Ruth. Too often, we don’t believe in our own power, but God affirms it.

God credits them with the saving of lives, these middle-ages mamas of the Hebrew world. He writes boldly what others overlook. Fierce loyalty and love know no force they fear. They are the specialty of the middle-aged mama.

We’ve been saying, “not my loved one, bitch” to evil for a long time. And the older I get, the more loved ones I accumulate. They come in all colors and languages and creeds, nowadays. Maybe I can’t knit a stitch, but I can expand my reach to hold these new loved ones, too, in a fierce, protecting love. It’s our superpower, women.

God continues to affirm when we women use that superpower, that gift of grace, of love and loyalty to continue the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) fight.

It all centers on the Molly Weasleys. It always has.


Who is one of your favorite heroes? I’d love to hear!


I googled my Uncle Alton today. This is what I found on the WWII Memorial Site:

Service Branch: ARMY
Rank: 1 LT
Date of Death: 0000-00-00
Hostile: Dnb
Home of Record City/County: Price
Home of Record State: Wisconsin
Conflict: WWII

I remember looking him up at the actual site in Washington D.C. and finding nothing. My Uncle Alton died in WWII, and no one has even recored when. There is no other record of him anywhere, at least, anywhere electronic, which is all that exists for modern America. Most likely, even the scar on the mountainside in France where his plane crashed has been renewed, as nature does.

You probably think I’m going to go on a rant about how wrong that is and how our soldiers deserve their honor and memory, and that last is quite true. But that’s not where I’m going. Strangely, the fact that he is gone and there is nearly no one left who knows or cares that he existed makes me more proud of him, though he died long before I existed.

My uncle saw a need, heard a call, and answered it. He looked around, said ,”Someone’s got to do something,” and realized, “I’m someone.” He didn’t get rewarded, didn’t achieve fame, didn’t get remembered at all. The fact that he didn’t think about those things makes me proud of him.

Fame has replaced success as the chief goal of people under thirty. (No, that’s not a random musing; it’s statistically true.) Fame at any price for any reason–just get me the viral YouTube video and it’s all good. It’s a bizarre psychosis that we’ve now got the most generous and most narcissistic generation we’ve had in my lifetime. Obviously, those are generalizations, but again, statistically accurate. Too often, the narcissism overcomes the generosity, at which point doing good and giving to others becomes just another way to make myself feel good.

I have quite a lot of faith in this generation, though. Hey, my kids are in it. I’ve kind of got a stake in how it turns out. So I’ll just say, to all generations, we need more Uncle Altons. We need more people to look around them, see a need, and jump in, reward or not. We desperately need more people to ask how they can serve rather than how the world can serve them.

I struggle with it myself. I want to be noticed. I want to be successful. I want my writing, speaking, and other abilities to be recognized. I am human and fallible and too proud and competitive for my own good. But I know that what I want more than those things is to have taken what I was given and completely used it up for good, not for glory. It’s just so hard to remember that every single day.

A good definition of brave? Doing what needs to be done, because you are there and the need is before you, never caring if it’s remembered. You may never show up on a Google search. I think Uncle Alton would be glad he can’t be googled. That’s not why he went to France. This Memorial Day, I remember him. Though we never met.