We all worry about Edith, don’t we? Her place as the middle sister/”ugly duckling”/sad sack of the Crawley family makes us Downton Abbey fans mutter “oh, Edith” week after week. I never cared much for Edith before this season, I have to admit. My allegiances have instead leaned towards with the charismatic and snippy Mary (upstairs) and the spunky and strong-willed Daisy (downstairs). I found myself giving up too many “oh, Edith”s that I was downright sick of her.
Then, they gave her Marigold.
This season, Edith is working her butt off trying to figure out how to raise her own daughter, Marigold, despite the societal stigma unmarried motherhood working against her. Whereas I used to think that Edith was just wasted screen time, I now see in her the potential to be a model mother of a little girl – one that we can all learn from. I believe that, if Edith can somehow pull her head out of the Eeyore-style cloud of despair that she carries around with her all the time, she can become the kick-ass modern mom of a daughter that all of us are trying to be.
Here’s what she can teach us:
Don’t let your more accomplished sister (or whoever) get you down
God bless her, Edith sure does her best to hold her own under the weight of Mary’s relentless cruelty, doesn’t she? And with Marigold now living in the nursery alongside Mary’s son, she is standing up for herself even more. What if she can take this even farther? What if she can really dares to take up space and refuse to take any of Mary’s crap? What an incredible example that will be for Marigold who will inevitably face a bunch of mean words in her life as an “orphan” child to a single mom.
Teach yourself to drive
Sure, this may not be a big deal for us today in 2015 but let’s not underestimate how bold and brave it was for Edith to learn to drive in a time and place when women just didn’t really do that. She was like “whatever, I don’t care about you. I got places to go!” So, maybe for us it’s learning how to code our own website or hang drywall instead of drive a car, but we all have that thing that we really want to do that seems impossible. When we dare to do it anyway, we are teaching our daughters to access their own unlimited potential.
Run that publishing company…with no apologies
Don’t get me wrong. Big sister, Mary doesn’t sit around doing nothing all day. She has rolled up her sleeves and made herself into quite the business woman as she has partnered with her dad and Tom in running their affairs. But Mary still works for her dad. Edith, on the other hand, doesn’t need to work for anybody. She just got her own publishing company! She is gonna be THE. BOSS. Plus, she is an accomplished writer herself. Which means that she will be in charge of bringing her own ideas and stories as well as the stories and ideas of others to life in the world. All women – mothers or not – should have the chance to do this. Marigold will grow up knowing and expecting girls and women to share what they think and feel with the world.
Don’t give up on your child no matter what
Edith’s incessant visits to the Drewes’ farm to see Marigold where she would annoyingly show up unannounced looking like a drowned rat got kinda old as a viewer. However, it showed us that part of Edith that clearly has no intention of giving up on her daughter. Based on what I have been learning about attachment theory raising ‘The Squirrel”, I predict that Marigold’s early childhood being bounced around among different homes in different countries with different caregivers will most likely result in a few issues as she grows up. These issues can manifest themselves cognitively, emotionally, physically or all of the above. This means that Edith will be parenting a child with special needs. So, her utter tenacity in being there for her child is going to serve her well in the future. Edith is showing us that she has what it takes to love and support her daughter through whatever challenges come up along the way.
There may be hope for Lady Edith yet. Perhaps all of the bad luck she has faced in these 5 seasons so far will culminate in her becoming the mama of our dreams. We’ll see. But she really has to do something about the fact the she does always look like a drowned rat.