Mothers are incredibly important in the Star Wars Galaxy. Their presence, loss, and influence is strongly felt. It’s not a stretch to say things that affect the galaxy come down to their influence. One thing most notable is that Mothers want their children and want what is best for them. There is no ‘getting rid of’ a pregnancy that causes them inconvenience, though the means must surely exist. No, they are willing to sacrifice their needs for the good of their offspring. They set the foundation for the next generation to rise and make it’s own impact on the galaxy.
Lets take a look at some famous Mother’s of the saga and how their influence, influenced the galaxy.
Shmi Skywalker – Mother and Grandmother
There aren’t many women as underrated yet important as Shmi. She didn’t wield a weapon, or have any power. She was a slave. Her son was the most unplanned of unexpected pregnancies, there was no Father involved. Yet she showed no sign that she felt that it was best to be rid of this pregnancy. She didn’t though it surely not only made life harder for her, and she surely had to fear what life he would have as a slave.
We can take her assertion of his parentage at face value because:
- A: out of universe the creator of said universe says so.
- B: In universe, it would be absurd to make up such an incredible story. She may not have known Qui-Gon well, but if she were to lie she surely could’ve come up with something more credible. She certainly knew nothing of the Jedi prophecy. And Qui-Gon being not only a Jedi, but a Master with a lot of experience surely realized this.
Shmi modeled for her son the virtues of compassion, patience and kindness. She also showed a quiet dignity and determined protectiveness. She could not prevent the hardships or dangers her son faced as a slave. But neither did she encourage him to wallow in victimhood. She taught him to stand proud and firm against insults, to help others even in the face of bullies and opposition.
Shmi’s son, Anakin
At the time we meet Shmi’s son, Anakin Skywalker, he is willing to stand up and help complete strangers. He used his position to his advantage in fact. He stood up to Sebulba as he threatened to pound Jar Jar Binks. He showed no fear even though there was risk. He knew Sebulba also faced risk: he’d have had to ‘pay for him’ since he was a slave, should he harm him. He bought his new friends food (and he surely had little enough money for that.) He invited them home with him to shelter in a storm. Finally, he offers to enter a dangerous podrace to aid them get the parts they need for their ship.
Shmi must surely be both proud and afraid for her son. Teaching him compassion and courage requires a sacrifice on her part. The safe thing to do, is to tell him to be wary of strangers and not allow him to risk himself for others. But she can’t teach him courage, or hope, or compassion by doing this. So she chooses to let him race. Normally, she has no choice as their Master, Watto, orders it. This time it’s a reluctant choice. This pays off as he not only helps a Jedi and a Queen get what they need to continue the mission to help the invaded Naboo, but also his freedom.
Anakin’s freedom is Shmi’s next sacrifice. As much as she loves her son, as central to her life as he is, she cannot protect him. If he stays, he will still be at risk from those who might want to kidnap and re-enslave him. He would also lose what is likely his only chance at a dream that could help many others: to be a Jedi. Shmi again, breaks her own heart to let her son go. She does so in hope he will have a better life.
Now be brave, and don’t look back… don’t look back.~ Shmi to Anakin in the Phantom Menace
Anakin leaving Shmi leaves him disconnected. He still firmly remains the compassionate young man. But without his Mother’s grounding, the Jedi teachings begin to make him arrogant. Anakin’s pride at being the only human who could podrace was tempered by his Mother’s fear when he did so. But he had no such balance against what he learned as a Jedi. His Mother was completely out of touch.
When Anakin’s dreams turn to nightmares, he realizes he is having a vision. Rushing back to Tatooine, he finds his mother has been taken by the dreaded Sandpeople. Many had been killed trying to save her. When he reached her, she had been tortured for a month before dying in his arms. She was glad to see him, it was all she wanted before she died. But she wasn’t quite able to get out “I love you” before passing away. Shmi had sacrificed and been willing to let go of her son. But it wasn’t a lesson he, himself, had learned.
The Jedi pushed ‘don’t become attached’ but since he was already ‘attached’ in the first place, this lesson wasn’t helpful. He needed to know how to love yet let go. His reaction was so terrible it surprised even him. The sad thing is, the only one who could’ve saved him at this moment was Shmi herself. She had taught him how to let go with hope. But she wasn’t there to teach him to let go when there was only pain as a reward.
The death of Anakin’s mother, so brutal and undeserved, would directly impact the fall of the galaxy to the Sith. Anakin would be left with a need to be stronger to protect those he loved, at any cost. He also was left with the knowledge that his visions could come horribly true. This would be his downfall when his wife and mother of his unborn children was the one his dreams showed to be in danger.
There is little doubt that the pain of losing his Mother remained buried deep within even when Anakin was Darth Vader. A pain he was not anxious to see repeated when his son was the one in danger, and this time, he really could save the one he loved though it cost his life.
Shmi’s Influence on Others
The legacy of Shmi didn’t end with Anakin. Freed by Cliegg Lars, she was also dearly loved by both Owen and his future wife, Beru. One day they would raise Anakin’s son with the same values. Save one thing: they feared letting Luke go, knowing it ended so badly for Anakin.
Years later, Leia would gain her grandmother’s journal, allowing her to discover who the woman was and how she loved her son. How she used everything she was given to better her own circumstance with a good attitude. She was rewarded with her freedom and family who loved her. This journal, which was meant for her son but never reached him, would help Leia find peace with her roots. This influences Leia’s willingness, in turn, to become a mother herself.
This young woman’s influence was profound though she never got to know her children. She was no doubt influenced by her own Mother (who we see in cut scenes & novelizations). She respects Shmi Skywalker when they meet regarding her son, completely shocked that anyone is forced to live in the degradation of slavery. Like Shmi, Padmé’s circumstances for getting pregnant are less than ideal (though obviously better than Shmi’s). Yet there was danger.
The Naboo had specific views on family.
“If the Queen finds out I’ll be recalled from the Senate and if the Council finds out your the father…”Padmé to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith
Padmé knew the risk to both herself and Anakin. They could lose their careers. They would be subject to gossip. She didn’t mention danger to the child, though given the attempts on her life it was a possibility. Yet again, we see no evidence that ‘getting rid of the child’ was even remotely considered. A child, even unborn, was to them, a hope for the future. The inconvenience was nothing to that.
Motherhood appealed to Padmé. She even shared a plan with Anakin: a quiet location on Naboo, where she could prepare a room and have the child in secret. She clearly wanted to cherish the child and if it meant stepping back from the Senate, she would do so.
We can’t know why Padmé died. She lost her husband to the manipulation of a man she had helped put in power. She lost the democracy she had dedicated her life to. But it’s possible she also sacrificed herself for the protection of her children.
“There is still good in him. I know…there is still…”Padmé to Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith
Padmé instinctively knew Anakin lived, even within Vader. But that connection would drive him to seek her out. In this twisted version of himself, that would expose their twins to danger from him as well as Palpatine. Padme may well have let go of life rather than risk that pursuit that would draw the Sith to her children. We’ll never truly know.
Though the twins didn’t have a chance to know her, Padmé’s faith in Anakin was later echoed by her son, who drew his Father back to the light. Her gift for diplomacy would later be revealed in her daughter, one of the youngest elected to the Senate.
Beru and Breha
We know little enough about Beru, the step Aunt who raised Luke as a son. But we do know she apparently loved him at first sight. She had to mediate between Luke and Owen due to his restless nature drawing him away from the farm. Like Shmi, Beru realized that no matter how they feared for Luke, they would eventually have to let him go.
Owen, he can’t stay here forever. Most of his friends are gone. It means so much to him.
Breha we know least of all about. But we know that the Queen of Alderaan, wife of Bail Organa, wanted a daughter. Their attempts at having a child failed when she had miscarriages, leading to the talk of adoption. This, combined with Bail’s friendship with Padmé, meant Leia had a loving adoptive Mother.
Leia Organa Solo
Leia was the first of our Mothers that was hesitant to be a Mother at all. While she may have feared Vader, she apparently feared Anakin even more. How did she know his failing wasn’t genetic? When Leia found Shmi’s journal, she found her own inner strength to be a Mother. She realized Anakin was not born bad, and his Mother’s influence may well have saved him from such a fate.
Leia had to juggle the many roles (Minister of State, Chief of State, Warrior, Jedi Knight, ) along with Motherhood. She had to leave them in the care of others many times. This wasn’t easy on her or them. Fellow politicians and ambassadors of other worlds did not always share such family values. Yet Leia tried very hard to have family time and meals together.
It isn’t easy being a Mother to Force Sensitive children either. They were a temptation to those who wanted to use them as they used their grandfather, Anakin Skywalker. Then there were those who wanted to strike at them just to hold them hostage against her actions and position of influence.
Perhaps the bravest moment was naming her youngest “Anakin”. This was an act of forgiveness and hope. She recognized that while the boy had the strength in the Force of his grandfather, that didn’t mean he was destined to share his fate. This was a matter of choice, and she had to be strong enough to just do her best to teach them her values and then let go.
Leia, like Padme, Shmi and Beru, had to let her children go. Sometimes it was into hiding to protect them. Then it was to train as Jedi. At least, this was easier on her than on Shmi. Leia had easy communications with Jacen, Jaina and Anakin when they were at Luke’s Jedi Academy.
Leia’s children would go on to become Jedi Knights and face terrible dangers. They had their own wars and battles to fight. But for good or ill, she modeled the example of courage, compassion, forgiveness and the hope of all mothers.
To read more about Leia’s Life check out this page.
These Mothers were Heroes
For better or worse, each of these Mothers of the Skywalker clan (be they blood or adoption) made a huge impact on the galaxy. None of them could keep their children from danger, from failure or the heartache that came with success. Some lived to be hurt terribly by what their children endured. Others didn’t live to see the pain and heartache. But all impacted the galaxy and ultimately, their sacrifices mattered. Sometimes, that sacrifice of time and love of motherhood is just as important to the galaxy as being a warrior or a diplomat.
Check out how these Moms fit into the Skywalker Family Tree, here.
Thanks to StarWarsScreencaps for the movie images.