Screw Mary Poppins
I recently watched a documentary about Julie Andrews. With a wistful look in his eye, the interviewer asked Ms. Andrews whether she parented her real-life children the way Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp did. She graciously shook her head, “Well, those mothers are perfect. They have to be. It’s always perfect on screen.” Whew.
Despite what Hollywood is peddling, perfect parenting is a crock. Glossy all the time—that belongs on the cutting room floor of a photo shopper’s apartment. The idea of parenting perfectly—never upset, always have the right answer, right “look”, perfect kids, perfect everything—is a trip down insane lane. We can feel that we’re falling short, and we look at other moms and think, “Wow, she’s got it all figured out and I’m such a mess.” The truth is, we’re all in the same boat, and sometimes that includes feeling bad about ourselves because we’re not living up to some impossible standard that we imagine some other women are managing to meet. This separates us from each other. It’s hard to find what truly nourishes us when we’re covering up our own vulnerability.
Instead of buying into the lark, why don’t you put your heart into pursuing wholeness? Wholeness includes stumbles and exhaustion, long carpools, late nights, frustration and everything in-between. Wholeness is freedom, it’s vibrantly connected, and it’s real. We can be messy and make mistakes, grow in the sunshine not in the darkness, and still make the decision 1000 times a day to be kinder to, and more forgiving of, ourselves in the midst of it all.
You already know what wholeness is because you listen compassionately when a friend shares her struggles, feeling some relief that we’re not the one struggling. We relate to her with compassion and understanding cause we’ve been there too. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we extended that same compassion and understanding to ourselves when we’re in the midst of it?
Parent from self-love, and let the ghost of perfection fade into the background. With wholeness as the goal, we stand a good chance at actually cherishing this journey of parenthood, remembering the meaningful stuff, and enjoying the heck out of the joyful times. Screw that carefully crafted screen-play of Hollywood. The life you are living is far richer, deeper and freer. Together we have an opportunity to dethrone Mary Poppins’s “practically perfect in every way”. We can parent with more self-acceptance and more humor, reestablishing the tone of love and connection right in this very moment.