Happy Birthday to One of the Best TV Moms - Ma from Little House on the Prairie - Karen Grassle!

The real Caroline Ingalls, mother to author Laura Ingalls Wilder, was born 172 years ago in Brookfield, Wisconsin. However, there is another Caroline Ingalls who is just as real to me. That's Karen Grassle, who played the role of Caroline Ingalls on the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series. We also knew her as "Ma". 

Karen Grassle played the role of "Ma" so beautifully, that as I was growing up, I never thought of "Ma" as a role that was being played by an actress. She was so genuine that it was as if I was watching home movies from the past. In fact, I almost felt like I was there with them. 

Karen Grassle and Michael Landon, who played "Pa", had perfect TV chemistry. When they looked at each other with loving eyes, it seemed real to us. When Ma was frustrated with Pa for being so stubborn at times, we sympathized with her. When they had their moments or went on their little dates, I knew that's what I wanted when I grew up. 

Ma really took great care of her children. She taught them how to sew, taught them how to cook, made sure they did their chores and homework, she made them all their dresses, talked to their teacher when necessary, kept a very tidy home, she'd ask them about their day, offer them motherly advice, and gave them plenty of hugs. She was humble, and certainly not materialistic. I think what stood out to me most about her was her peaceful demeanor. Unlike some other TV mothers, Ma didn't get wrapped up in drama, wasn't a fan of gossip, didn't pick on her husband, preferred peaceful resolutions rather than arguments, and she really appreciated what she had. Her peacefulness was never mistaken for weakness though. Ma was not a pushover. She would choose peaceful resolutions first, but when that didn't work, she would definitely step it up when she had to and she would get firm with people, particularly the town gossip queen and control freak, Harriet Oleson. Ma Ingalls was a perfect example for her girls, and for the millions of us girls who grew up watching her.

Thank you to Karen Grassle for bringing the role of Ma Ingalls to life, and for giving all the time, thought and respect that you gave to that role! Thank you to   for posting the recent interview of Karen Grassle on YouTube! I love how open Karen Grassle was in the video about her memories, that she has a sense of humor about it, that she respected Ma, and that she found her own ways to identify with that role. Happy 70th Birthday, Karen Grassle! She's definitely one of those cool women who have made 70 the new 30!