Pine Valley has seen its fair share of mothers over the past 41 years. It's also seen quite a few moms. It is totally unfair to try to address all of the moms in All My Children history in this, a weekly commentary, but that doesn't mean that I can't take a look at the moms who are in Pine Valley right now.
On last week's Soap Central Live, I asked callers to call in and share with me their picks for the best and worst moms in soap opera history. I thought that would be an easy task. Imagine my surprise when nearly every caller had a hard time thinking of someone who they could comfortably call a good mom! I refuse to believe that there are that many big bad mommas wandering the streets of Pine Valley. I guess we're about to find out.
Opal was given a second chance to be a mom -- several times over. The relationship she shares with Tad is special, and it's one that might never have been. I appreciate that All My Children has never tried to play Tad's relationship with Ruth against the one he has with Opal. There's no need for a "mom competition." It's also cute that Tad refers to his two moms -- three if you count Nola Orsini. Opal also received a second chance with Adrian Sword, another son that she'd thought she'd never see again. Adrian is seldom mentioned any more, but I suspect that he's still somewhere out there doing his top secret stuff. Petey was Opal's late-in-life baby, and it's a little odd that he's not around... especially in the wake of Palmer's death, but I lay that on the writers.
Krystal admittedly has done everything she can to make the best life for her children. I know that a lot of you don't agree with her decisions. Selling one of your children to the highest bidder? Not sure that she'll get the mom of the year award for that one. I mentioned it a few weeks back, but I personally was not a fan of Krystal's decision to try to pack up Tad's kids and move out with them. I remember thinking, "Who the hell are you?" We don't really see Krystal much anymore except when she is mooning over Jack, so I have no idea what she does when she is spending time with the girls. I have no reason to believe that she's not good with Jenny and Kate, or as a grandmomma to AJ.
Many of Pine Valley's women didn't exactly have the best role models to fashion themselves after.
Madison's mother has been missing in action since we met Madison back in 2009. We know her father was a jerk, but... what's up with her mom? Though she hasn't yet had her baby, Madison has done a really nice job of turning her life around. The writers did an adequate job of showing Madison struggle with whether to terminate her pregnancy or to carry the baby to term. That's not meant to endorse either side of a controversial topic -- it's just an observation from someone who will never be able to become pregnant and has no intention of telling anyone what they should and shouldn't do. Back to Madison, after the slip and fall on Christmas Eve, I'm sure a lot of viewers expected that she would suffer a miscarriage. Taking out the questionable decisions of lying about the father... Madison seems to have been doing just about everything she's supposed to do.
Thankfully, Amanda wasn't born with a penchant for crowbars. And as far as I know, Amanda has never talked to herself in a mirror or plotted to take over someone else's life. That doesn't mean, though, that Amanda has always been a pillar of stability. Tossing away the birth control pills? Who do you think you are -- Erica Kane?
Amanda showed that she was willing to make the difficult decisions that moms have to face. Remember a couple of years back when Amanda had to pretend that her newborn baby was dead? I still believe that Chrishell Stause's performance in those scenes was the best baby-related breakdown since Eva LaRue's Maria collapsed in the Pine Valley airport crying, "My baby, my baby" when Sam was taken away from her.
On the other side of the coin, Liza did, however, seem to pattern herself after her mother, Marian. History repeated itself when Liza bedded her daughter's boyfriend... just as Marian had done some 20 years earlier. For me, though, the writers "changed" the role of Liza forever after Marcy Walker announced that she'd opted to retire from acting. When Walker exited AMC, she was on the run, trying to hide her then-toddler daughter from her evil dad, Adam Chandler. When Colby returned a few years later as a teenager, all of a sudden Liza was revealed to be an evil crone who was the worst mother in the history of the world.
The same thing happened when Danielle Frye returned to Pine Valley a bunch of years ago and Mimi Reed morphed from doting mom into a dunderhead who had fallen in love with a crime lord. But I promised I wouldn't delve into the past.
Greenlee's mother, Mary, seemed annoyed at the prospects of having to raise a child. We've been told that Mary was busy flitting between European locales and the bedrooms of pool boys when she should have been rearing Greenlee. Though Greenlee doesn't have any children of her own, I have to say that she seems intrigued by the idea of being a mom. I don't think that Emma falls under the "easier child to raise" chapter of the parenting book, so it might not be best to use that as a measure for how Greenlee would be as a mom. I think with a little more time and lot more patience Greenlee could be pretty okay.
Since I mentioned Emma, I guess I have to at least briefly mention Annie. As a mom, she has been the pits! Her craziness has messed Emma up royally, but can you assign blame when you're talking about someone who has a mental illness? See Green, Janet.
A lot can be said for Angie Hubbard. She raised her son as a single parent -- and Frankie turned out quite well. Angie chose to put her unborn child first -- allowing for herself to become blind because of fears that the medicine that could save her eyesight might harm or kill her baby. I've read from detractors who think it was selfish for Angie to bring a child into the world knowing that she'd have physical limitations. I can understand that argument, but it's not one that I would make. I also cannot fault Angie for raising little Not Ellie. She has no idea that she's raising someone else's child, so Angie can't be blamed for that.
I have no reason to think that Kendall is a bad mom. She loves her children unconditionally -- something she must have gotten from her moms. But I have to tell you... I have to question why anyone would willingly bring a murderer (two or more times over) into a home where there are small children. Heck, you can even take the kids out of the equation. Who in the world has dinner with a mass murder by choice?
Bianca's travails as a mom are legendary. For months she was led to believe that her daughter was dead. Thanks Krystal and Babe. Once the truth was revealed and Bianca was reunited with little "MiMo," I don't think that anyone could question that she was a loving, caring, and devoted mother. I am not so sure that she and Zach gave enough thought to that whole secret sperm donation, but let's take that out of the discussion. I admire Bianca's fierce determination to keep custody of her daughters. My only regret with that storyline is that so much of it played out off-screen. I understand that the show was unable to hammer out a deal to have Tamara Braun reprise the role of Reese, but I think that daytime's first same-sex custody battle could have been handled much better. I'm sure many of you, though, feel that the first same-sex marriage could have been handled better, too... but that's something for another column.
Is Erica Kane a good mother? Well isn't that a million dollar question. Erica has meddled, interfered, and otherwise bungled things more times than I can count. After Erica was raped as a young woman, she opted to give her baby to the Harts, a loving couple from Florida that could give the little girl all the things that she could not. Erica and Kendall's relationship was strained for many years, but they were able to get to a place where they truly love each other. Then there's Josh Madden, the pregnancy that Erica had terminated... but somehow the fetus was transplanted into another woman's uterus. Um, yeah. Moving on... Has Bianca been the "favorite child?" I suppose the answer to that is yes. Considering the circumstances, I think it's understandable. Along the way Erica has done some questionable things when raising Bianca. She probably didn't handle Bianca's coming out as well as some would have wanted, but I think her reaction was realistic. Through it all, Erica does appear to have her daughters' best interests at heart... even if it doesn't seem like.
The most popular "best mom" response from viewers was Erica's mom, Mona. Why? It seems that most AMC fans think that anyone who could put up with Erica deserves some sort of honor. Mona -- and Kate Martin -- seem like characters from a time gone by. Gone are the days of the stay-at-home moms who bake cookies and spout pearls of wisdom. We don't see them on the soaps, and the current economy has made real-life stay-at-home moms an endangered species. That, we're told, is the reason that All My Children will also be a thing of the past.
I want to thank my mom and grandmother for taking time out last week to visit me on Soap Central Live and discuss their love of soap operas. If you missed it, click here -- my mom comes on at about the 25-minute mark and my grandmother about the 40-minute mark. My grandmother delivers some of the most outrageous moments ever on the show... all in the course of about 10 minutes. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Though the official Mother's Day holiday is behind us for another year, I don't think anyone out there truly believes that moms should be celebrated and honored only on one day. So to all of the women out there who have supported us in good times and bad, and loved us unconditionally... Happy Mother's Day.