In Anne of Green Gables, Marilla Cuthbert is often the enemy. At least that's how she appeared to me in all of my readings as a child. Her severe, dour outlook was in direct opposition to the romantic Anne's impulsiveness and flights of fancy. When Matthew shows up with Anne in his cart she purses her lips and says, "We were supposed to get a boy, to help you with your work."
Ever practical she refuses to make Anne a dress with puffed sleeves, seeing the fashion for what it is, ridiculous, frivolous and silly. My childhood heart would long for Anne to get her puffed sleeves, cheered for Matthew when he bought a dress in secret, and chafed alongside her at all of the severe restrictions Marilla placed on her girlhood freedom.
Now I am the mother of little girls. I often refuse to get them things that they long for as we walk through the store because it's either ridiculous, frivolous or silly. I am exasperated with their endless foolishness, especially when the results are disastrous, things are broken, clothes are wet, order disrupted, all in the name of some girlish flight of fancy. I respond to drama with acerbic observations and point out obvious, unpleasant consequences. I am desperate to ground this this flighty girl and force into her some pragmatism and sense of duty. I have little patience for the imaginings of my girl/s, especially when they get in the way of what needs doing right now. I am the enemy.
At least, that's how I feel.
But Marilla is also the woman who decided to keep Anne with her, rather than let her go into a situation of indentured servitude. Marilla made her clothes and meals, taught her to cook and sew, and helped her through the consequences of her several disastrous escapades. Marilla stood up for her when no one else did. Marilla was the firm reliable place in Anne's life. Marilla was home. Marilla loved Anne fiercely, and showed it by doing what was best for her, even when she didn't agree.
Marilla wasn't the enemy, but the staunchest ally a little girl/young woman could have. Anne eventually came to realize this. Hopefully, if I play my cards right, my girls will too.