When the Harry Potter book series was first released, I was merely a teenager, with mixed feelings about a rising fandom surrounding a boy wizard and his ragamuffin friends. It seemed pretty silly to me and frankly, I did not see the appeal. Because of this, I did not read the novels or watch the films until I was an adult. Once I was transported to the Hogwarts’ world, I realized my folly and eagerly ate up the beautiful words from the novels, and equally enjoyed the film adaptation.
After the arrival of my son, the Harry Potter story took on new meaning when viewed through the eyes of a newly born mother. During those sleepless nights on maternity leave, I would revisit this world for comfort and distraction. Truth be told, I always understood the story to be one of love, acceptance, and friendship. I never viewed it as a story of mothers until now.
If you have yet to read the books or watch the films, I implore you to stop reading this entry now and run to your nearest library or bookstore (this is your spoiler warning my friends).
You see, at the end of this beautiful story of a brave magical boy, it really all comes down to the love and sacrifice of mothers.
Potter’s own mother Lily sacrifices her life to protect her child from evil. Her love is why the infant Harry is able to grow into the young hero scores of children love and admire.
The mother I most feel for, however, is a bit of an anti-hero. She is Narcissa, mother of Draco Malfoy. Though she is technically on the “wrong side” of the story, the love she has for her son is never a question. When Harry is presumably dead and the dark lord is close to victory, her only thoughts are for the safety of her son, Draco. She checks to see if the Harry is alive, and asks Harry if her son lives. As he whispers yes, her relief is palpable. The decision she makes next, as a mother, puts her life in grave danger and ultimately saves the magical world. She turns to the dark lord, full knowing Harry is alive and provides the one lie that gives our heroes a chance to prevail.
I could continue to speak of the beautiful mothers in this book, from Molly Weasley to the mother figure of the many Hogwarts professors (Love you Professor Minerva McGonagall), as well as the author herself. However, if you have yet to read this story, or have yet to view it through the eyes of a mother, I hope to have given you a reason to steal away for a few moments to reread the novels or watch the films with your children.
In the vein of Lily, Narcissa, Molly, and JK Rowling herself, my hope is my son will look back at his childhood with a sense of wonder and magic and say, without hesitation:
“thanks to my mother, I am the boy that lived.”