If I ignore Nell's mother for a minute since I hate her and I do not necessarily care how she is portrayed, I would like to look at Princess Nell's mother. Page 124 says this:
He took the babies back to the cottage and presented them to his wide, who swooned for joy. They lived happily together for some time, and whenever one of the babies cried, one of the parents would get up and comfort it. But one night father did not come home, because a storm had pushed his little red fishing boat far out to sea. One of the babies began to cry, and the mother got up to comfort it. But when the other began to cry as well, there was nothing she could do, and shortly the monster came calling.
When the fisherman returned home the next say, he found his wife's body lying beside that of the monster, and both of the babies unharmed. His grief was very great, and he began the difficult task of raising both the children.Now, I am all for men raising babies, I think it's good for them to have the elbow deep in diaper experience that I feel mothers have no choice to go through. However, it bothers me that the mother cannot comfort two babies at the same time. I realize the man is hard at work and the mother is home taking care of the kids, two kids, who are apparently both very young although when they are older Harv is much bigger than Nell.... Anyways, she doesn't even try. And it bother me that the mother does not try to comfort the other baby, yes she gives up her life for her children but I feel like she just took the beating because she felt like she had no choice, she dies uselessly in my opinion. In this short story there is no time that the mother picked up the other baby in her other arm and attempted to comfort it, but the dad was able to raise them all on his own.
I feel like Neal Stevenson goes out of his way to make mothers out to be awful. Like obviously no one can raise a child as well as Harv or the father. Every mother in this book is either mean or stupid. The only redeeming female character seems to be Miranda. And that is only because she cares about Nell and is trying to help her. Good thing she didn't have any kids though... Because apparently once you have kids you become an awful human being whole dates people who molest your children and burn them with cigarettes.