“Quite, quite,’ she thought with a little sigh. ‘It’s always like this in their adventures. To save and be saved. I wish somebody would write a story sometime about the people who warm up the heroes afterward.”
(Moominpapa at Sea)
Why does Finn Family Moomintroll mean so much to me? Because it captures the elements of the ideal childhood – endless, carefree mucking about in the natural world, adventures, friendship and, underpinning it all, the absolute security of the unflappably loving Moominmamma.
Moominmamma was the antithesis of my own conflicted mother, for whom the phrase “lost inside her own head” could have been invented. She is security personified, even in the most desperate situations. And in happier times, she’s so laid-back it’s beautiful. Anyone can show up at Moominhouse, stay as long as they like, and all she’ll ask is how many pillows they like. Her comfort and hospitality know no boundaries.
It’s only as you get older that you recognise the shadows Moominmama keeps away. When you read about the little creatures running away from Armageddon in Comet in Moominland you recognise the refugees in the Second World War. The comet becomes an atom bomb. And in happier times, you appreciate all the hard work that goes into looking after this crazy extended family, headed up by the tempramental and unpredictable Moominpapa who somehow expects everything to revolve around him while he sits in his study writing his memoirs, or emerges from time to time to turn family life upside down with his latest project. Moominmama has her opinions and occasionally expresses them (one of her farvourite asides is on my quotes page here) but she endures all gracefully and remains true to herself and her values.
Only one thing ever upsets her – the loss of her precious handbag. In my house the cry “Moominmama alert!” goes up whenever I mislay keys, iPhone or credit cards. I’ve tried to emulate Moominmama in keeping my own Moominhouse open to all who need warmth, security and pancakes. My children seem to think I’ve succeeded. I can think of no finer compliment.