There’s a TV show you love. So much that you can’t wait until the season is over to rent and binge. You’re willing to watch one episode a week, even with – gasp – commercials. For me that program is Nashville.
Each character is unique, complex, realistic, and constant, but one stands out as emblematically so. Rayna Jaymes isn’t just a mother. She personifies good motherhood. Not only in her interactions with her teen and tween daughters, but also as a country music artist, label exec, friend, boss, sister, and partner.
Here are the seven reasons Rayna Jaymes embodies modern motherhood:
1. She takes a lot of shit. Her daughters bitch her out in adolescent rages brought on by lovingly firm boundaries and disappointments at the hands of others, like their fathers and classmates. Her great love remains stoic when it comes to adoration and gratitude but suddenly has lots to say when he’s pissed off. The talent she’s signed hurl insults and accusations her way on the regular. And she takes it. She doesn’t submit; she sticks up for herself. But she also doesn’t sink to the emotionally uncontrolled level of those around her. She bears it.
2. She’s in every scene. How does she fit it all in? Funerals, performances, board meetings, award ceremonies, school events. She manages the impossible and makes it to everything for everyone.
3. Everyone calls her in a crisis. Everyone. It doesn’t matter what terms they’re on, when people need emotional or practical help, they call Rayna. And she answers.
4. No one ever asks how she’s doing. Okay, maybe they do sometimes. But when a character asks Rayna if she’s okay, it’s a breakthrough moment of selflessness for them. Ordinarily, it’s Rayna who is the calm in the storm. The rock. She’s the pillar supporting the whole damn everything. They all just assume she’s solid, because she always appears to be. So she almost always cries alone.
5. She’s the angel on your shoulder. Her moral compass unerringly points her in the proper direction, and her guidance does the same for others. What would Rayna do, y’all?
6. She never forgets her responsibilities. Unlike the show’s bad-mom poster girl, Juliette, Rayna doesn’t get plastered. She doesn’t indulge in passing passions. She never, ever loses sight of her status as a leader and role model. She sacks up and gets her many jobs done.
7. All sins are forgiven. Rayna sees the worst side of everyone and loves them anyway. She doesn’t hold grudges. She always offers absolution.
Actually, come to think of it, Rayna isn’t just an idealization of motherhood: the same behaviors make her a saint, a deity even.
Now what does that say about our expectations of mothers these days?