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.

justlisted (4)

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!

On The Hunger Games and Easter Sunday

Easter, and high school students, and Katniss Everdeen. I promise you—they do

intersect and make sense. 

Sunrises. We like sunrises. Who doesn’t?
A couple times this year, most recently this afternoon, I have had the chance to speak to a room full of high school students about bringing God into their culture. I talked about a few ways they could do that, but the final idea I gave them was simple—bring hope.

Is “hope” really a cross-cultural concept when we’re talking about the Millennial generation? You bet it is.

Witness the biggest genre of YA literature for the past several years—dystopia. A story playing out amid the ruin of a world that no longer resembles the one we know. The dictionary definitions of dystopia include:

  • “An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

  • “ A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.”

  • “An imagined place where people are unhappy and usually afraid.”

Well that sounds like quite the pleasant little backdrop.

Witness two of the blockbusters of this genre—Hunger Games. Divergent.

Now darkness is hardly new to YA literature, and I would be the first to argue that some darkness is necessary to challenge and empower the reader. But there is a not-so-subtle difference in what has been going on in recent years. Harry Potter was dark. Lord of the Rings has its share of dark. But those series ended with people going on to assume lives in which darkness did not reign and evil did not win. Those books ended with—hope. As Samwise says, “Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” Those authors believed and conveyed this.

The new ones don’t. Heroes are antiheroes. Conflict is “not great” versus “really bad.” You’re not sure you even want to root for anyone in the end. No one wins. Heroes even die in the final pages. The books reflect the attitude of a culture that has shifted. In the words of another LOTR character, “Do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands.”

They just look like hope.
This is the call, I believe, to writers who want to matter and to make their faith matter. 

Bring back hope.

Thus, I told those kids. And I’ve told my daughter, who wants to write this kind of literature. Whatever you do, whatever you write, whatever you are called to do in this life—do it with hope. Draw hope. Photograph hope. Cook hope. Put out fires, police streets, wait tables, perform surgery, counsel families—with hope.

Not happy-clappy ridiculous hope that ignores real life. That’s not hope—that’s wishful thinking. We already have a little too much of that in faith-based writing.

But real hope? If you intersect the culture with hope, you are bringing in an explosive device they are not quite prepared for. Bring it anyway. Bring it especially.

On this day after Easter, those of us who celebrated yesterday have the greatest, no, the only, source of this explosive hope. If you have a relationship with God—a living, vibrant, relationship, not just a go-to-church obey-the-rules one—you have a source of hope your culture needs.

You have it because God calls you, me, and all humans, precious souls whom he ransomed from pointless lives. Because God proved it with the power that kills death itself. Because he promises he made us for more. Because Easter proves there is an ultimate great hope, that evil can be defeated, and that we get to participate in the greatest story ever. It’s not our story. But we’re in it. Are we in it to create hope?

I kind of like that I get to be a Samwise in this world. A proclaimer of darkness-killing light in a world where it does indeed “shine out all the clearer.” Sam’s pretty cool. Sam is a hope spreader. It was needed in Mordor—it’s needed in your backyard.