It’s not easy being the loving mother to a know-it-all boy genius, no matter how cute he looks in a bow tie. No one knows this better than one Mary Cooper, a.k.a. Sheldon’s mom on The Big Bang Theory and now Young Sheldon.
On the latter show, actress Zoe Perry has had a lot of time to think about what being Sheldon’s mother might have actually been like. After all, not only has she played the figure on TV for several weeks now, but her own mother, Laurie Metcalfe, plays the older version of Mary Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. This role was obviously meant to stay in the family.
“You really understand the impact that Sheldon’s genius has not only on him navigating this world but also on the rest of his family and how they have to adapt to him,” Perry tells us about playing “Shelly’s” mom. “Like any mom out there she just wants the best for her kids and she has a child that she doesn’t completely understand or understand the way he views the world, but knows that he’s very special and extraordinary and wants him to have everything.”
In that vein, here are a few life lessons we’ve learned from Mary Cooper that also apply to motherhood in general.
Spread the love amongst your kids
Sibling rivalry is real. Sure, brothers and sisters are a blessing, but man can they mean extra work. There’s always one you feel like you’re not paying enough attention to or neglecting on behalf of another one, and we all know that kids pick up on that stuff. Hard.
“Because Sheldon is extraordinary, that can sometimes take Mary’s attention away from others, so it’s a real balancing act,” Perry says. “Every parent could probably relate to that, just that we all try our best and don’t always think we’re doing our best, but my God we try.”
First aid classes aren’t a bad idea
How many new or soon-to-be parents out there have thought about taking a first aid course to help them out in the event that something awful were to happen? Now everyone who actually had the time, effort and money to follow through on those good intentions, please keep your hands up. Yup, that’s what we thought.
Sometimes it takes a big shock — like a child choking on a sandwich (or in Sheldon’s case a breakfast sausage) to shake up our cores and get our butts in gear with this kind of stuff. Luckily when Shelly had his brush-in with death, Mary was able to keep her cool and get a 911 operator to walk her through it. That’s how we all wish we could be when faced with an emergency.
Everyone needs a saviour
Even moms like Mary Cooper need to believe in a higher power, whether that be the power of church, the power of meditation or the power of a good glass of Merlot once the kids have gone to bed.
As we’ve seen countless times on this series, Sheldon and his powerful mind are enough to keep everyone around him on their toes. If Mary didn’t have faith that God has a plan and everything happens for a reason, she probably wouldn’t be able to cope. The bigger lesson? Everyone needs to practice self-care. Especially challenged moms and dads.
Accept any and all help
Sure, Sheldon’s Meemaw likes to drink and smoke, allows her grandkids to eat candy and tinker with fireworks, and plays fast and loose with the Coopers’ house rules. But you know who else she raised? Mary Cooper. So obviously she knows a thing or two about this parenting business, and can be (somewhat) trusted with the kids.
Despite the different parenting tactics, Mary obviously recognizes this, and takes full advantage of her mother’s help when needed. Why? Because even the best parents need help every once in a while, and Mary Cooper is no exception.
Life is easier with your partner on board
We’d be curious to see how George and Mary Cooper met in the first place, considering how different they both are — especially when it comes to parenting. From what we know about Sheldon in the present day he didn’t exactly have the best relationship with his pops, but part of the fun of doing a prequel series is going back and seeing how that came to be. Also fun? Seeing how Mary constantly attempts to get George on board with Sheldon’s quirks. We think he’s starting to come around, in his own gruff way, and that’s got to make life infinitely easier on Mary. After all, parenting is definitely easier when it’s a two-person job.
Patience is a virtue
Okay, so we learned this from all the moms and dads out there, but Mary Cooper has strongly reinforced our belief in this one. Children can be trying on any given day, but when you’re trying to explain social customs and norms to an eight-year-old boy genius whose logic is often more inspired than Spock’s, you’re allowed to feel slightly more frazzled than most. Yet Mary seems to keep it together, every single time. That makes her a saint in our books.
Sometimes you just have to let your kids be themselves
Here’s the real trick to parenting someone like Sheldon Cooper, at least from where we sit on our cozy couches: sometimes you just have to let your kid be your kid. Whether that means buying him or her a rocket and helping to launch it in the middle of nowhere, allowing your child to wear a bow tie to school or taking an interest in scientists you’ve never heard of, it’s all about their jam — not yours.
Even if you can’t always understand it.