We have always been big fans of Llama Llama in our house, ever since Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sent my daughter her first Llama Llama book (Red Pajama) when she was about 2 years old. In the years since, we’ve collected all the Llama Llama books, and we read them often. In fact, it was totally Llama Llama Misses Mama that got my girl ready for, and excited about, starting preschool last year!
So when Netflix launched a Llama Llama show, I knew I needed to let my daughter watch it. I just had no idea how addicted she would become (it’s the only thing she’s wanted to use her screen time for over the last month), or how close to home the series would feel for us both.
You see, it has become very clear while watching this show that Mama Llama is a single mama.
Sure, maybe that was always kind of implied in the books — there’s never any mention of a Daddy Llama, after all. But in the books, it’s easy enough to imagine he might just be at work. Or out visiting friends. Or even off serving our country. I mean, there are a million possibilities for why both parents might not show up in these short snippets of Llama Llama’s life.
But over the course of the television series and seeing so much more of Llama Llama’s life, not only does it become clear there is no Daddy Llama, it almost starts to seem like there maybe never was a Daddy Llama.
After watching the whole series through several times over now, both my daughter and I are pretty convinced Mama Llama is a single mama by choice.
And maybe that doesn’t mean much to most families. Or maybe it does. Maybe the idea of an entire show dedicated to a family with no father at the helm infuriates some.
But for us — for our little family — it means everything.
I’m a single mom by choice. I adopted my little girl on my own just shy of my 30th birthday, and it has been the two of us against the world ever since. We recently adopted a dog, and my daughter calls him her brother, so I suppose we’re a family of three now. But there never has been a daddy in the picture.
Not a daddy who died who we talk about in mourning. Not a daddy she sees every other week, or one who she gets to Skype while he’s away on business trips. Not a daddy to tell her friends about, even though he’s never around.
No, there’s no daddy at all. And over the years, my daughter has (of course) had questions about that. About why our family is different from every other family she knows.
But then, along comes this show about a set of characters she already adored from the books, and just a few weeks ago, she turned to me while watching it and said, “Mama! Llama Llama doesn’t have a daddy either! It’s just him and Mama Llama. Just like you and me!”
She was beaming. For once, she was seeing a family that looked like ours on TV, and they were happy and healthy and whole. It meant everything.
To her and to me.
I’m not going to lie: Mama Llama is pretty much parenting goals as far as I’m concerned. She is patient and understanding, but also firm when she needs to be. And on this show, voiced by Jennifer Garner, she is everything I strive to be as a single mama.
She works hard to support her little family and she loves spending time with her kid. They have fun, and Llama Llama never seems sad about there being no Daddy Llama. They’ve created this little village around them that loves and supports them to no end.
It’s pretty much as close to our life as a cartoon adaptation of a beloved children’s book series could ever get.
I’m not sure if Anna Dewdney meant for Mama Llama to be a single mama when she first wrote the books, but Netflix really has done a stellar job of expanding upon the series and showing the world that single motherhood doesn’t have to be a miserable struggle for all families.
They’re showing how single mothers can thrive — and how families without a daddy in the picture can still be happy, successful, and whole.
Like I said, in my mind, Mama Llama is a choice mom like me. Maybe she adopted Llama Llama or maybe she went to the sperm bank, but when I imagine her path to motherhood, I see her going it alone from the start.
But no matter how she first became a mama, this is one show that is painting single motherhood in a positive light. And I know that to both my daughter and I, that fact alone has made us forever fans.
I can’t help but think that if Anna Dewdney were still around, she’d approve. And maybe even set out to write another book all about Llama Llama Single Mama’s initial path to parenthood.
I bet it’d be a good story to tell. And it would definitely be one I’d love to read.