When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a Disney Princess. Usually, it was Sleeping Beauty because of the dress…and c’mon…because she gets to sleep a lot. Sometimes it was Cinderella because I loved her hair. Occasionally, I would pretend to be Ariel because of the whole tail thing. But now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized none of the princesses have anything in common with me.
Luisa Madrigal from Encanto is my Disney soul sister.
About a year ago, we decided to have a family movie night. We blew up an air mattress, made a giant “tent” out of sheets and blankets hung up around the mattress, popped popcorn, and queued up a movie. For this night, we chose Encanto. I am quite the sucker for catchy Disney music, so I was in love with the movie right away. From the initial song, the movie was living up to my expectations. What I didn’t expect, however, was to be crying by the third song.
I immediately began tearing up at Luisa’s song, “Surface Pressure.” If you haven’t heard it, you should give it a listen. Basically, for those of you who have not seen the movie, Luisa’s “gift” is her incredible strength. However, with every family member’s gift comes a personal issue or insecurity that they keep to themselves.
For Luisa, it is the overwhelming pressure she feels to keep things going, a mounting pressure to be perfect and make no mistakes. No matter how intense, difficult, heavy, or daunting the problems the Madrigals may face, Luisa is expected to shoulder the problems and protect her family without going under herself. I was a little shocked when I became so emotional at a cartoon song, but quickly realized that it was because I saw so much of myself in Luisa.
I would be willing to bet that every mom reading this post can identify with Luisa’s song to some extent. I think that so often, we feel like we have to be the sole person keeping things running, sheltering our family from danger, carrying the burden of every person’s needs, and making sure that no matter how hard things get, we never “break” from the weight of the pressure. But if you continue in the movie, you see that Luisa learns how unhealthy this mindset is. Her sister goes on to teach her to share the burdens and to be open and honest about the impossible responsibility put upon her.
This is a lesson that I think so many moms need to learn over and over again.
Mama, I know it’s easy to feel like your family’s world rests on your shoulders. You need to be everything to everyone at all times. It feels like there’s no time for you to buckle, bend, or break. I know sometimes it feels like you’re kicking as hard as you can, but you’re still just barely above water. Motherhood wasn’t meant to be that way. We can’t be exactly what everyone needs and that’s okay. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to be too exhausted to play. We’re going to fail. We’re not always going to be able to stop the problems our children face. We might not be able to keep a clean house at all times, and that’s okay.
Something I’ve been learning lately in my motherhood journey is that my high standards — which I set for myself — do not make me a good mom. Neither does trying to accomplish everything on my own. Trying to be perfect and independent has done nothing for me as a mom other than burn me out and leave me feeling defeated and resenting others.