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Mommy Poppins

My flights of fancy are often inspired by the movies I watch with the kids. A few months ago, I longed to be Elasti-Girl (from “The Incredibles”) until I realized that I already possess multiple superpowers, spandex unitard and cape not required. Somewhere, several yards of spandex breathed a sigh of relief at this news, dodging a close-call with becoming my alter-ego’s disguise.

For Christmas the kids received “Mary Poppins” deluxe super-duper amazing classic Disney edition with bonus features and never-before seen scenes with commentary by the legendary Julie Andrews on DVD. We watched it this afternoon. I hadn’t seen it in years–too many.

From the opening credits I was reminded of what made me love the movie as a child. There was Mary, perched on a cloud high above London with her carpet bag and parrot-headed umbrella. She took out a compact–I smiled, watching another girly-girl attend to her nose. She powdered, smiled, and waited for the wind to change…

Meanwhile, things were unhappy at #17 Cherry Tree Lane. A few songs about women’s rights, how good it is to be a man in 1910 with Edward on the throne, the qualifications of a good nanny (stern or rosy-cheeked?), and the comic scene depicting the hilarity of Admiral Boom’s explosive time-keeping were catchy and sweet, but stood in the way between me and Mary.

Finally, there she stood in the parlor reading the qualifications Jane and Micheal Banks outlined:

The Perfect Nanny

If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts
Play games, all sorts

You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets

Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water

If you won’t scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won’t hide your spectacles so you can’t see
Put toads in your bed or pepper in your tea

Hurry, Nanny
Many thanks sincerely
Jane and Michael Banks

Suddenly, visions of being a supermom were replaced by visions of becoming Mommy Poppins. She sails up bannisters, backwards! She cleans with the snap of her fingers and a spoonful of sugar! It is always a jolly holiday, with Mary. Tap-dancing penguins adore her. Supercalifragilisticexpealadocious! She laughs, floats, and drinks tea on the ceiling. She sings songs about feeding birds that make you weep and want to go check your piggy bank for tuppence. I want to hire a chimney sweep, even though we don’t have a chimney. Most of all, I want to go fly a kite.

It isn’t so much that Mary has mysterious powers that allow her to pull gorgeous tasselled stained-glass lamps from her carpetbag. While that would be a handy skill, I think my admiration for Mary has more to do with her outlook on life and raising children. Personally, I need to strive to have a better balance between the extremes of mothering—I tend to either be stern and no-nonsense or a pushover. I would like to draw on the “Mommy Poppins” God placed deep inside of me and enjoy the fun, allow more bouts of silliness, give life’s medicines with a spoonful of sugar, know when to be firm, know when to be soft.

Mary Poppins: “Practically Perfect in Every Way.”

Mommy Poppins: Perfectly Practical in Every Way. Sometimes it is utterly practical to have pizza for breakfast. Sometimes it is practical to allow your toddler to wear his beloved snowboots in June. It is practical to insist your daughter practice piano, that your son should not leap from dresser-to-dresser-to-bed-to-dresser-to-bed-to-shelves and OOPS, there goes the stuffed animal net and 137 dust-collecting button-eyed friends to the floor. My finger snapping won’t sail them back into the net. But I can pretend it is a giant basketball net and Winnie is my ball. From the closet it’s worth three points.

3 comments to Mommy Poppins

  • hamster

    That balance does seem elusive and I can imagine only more so as babies get older and are able to get into more mischief. Still, I think you’re a great mom who balances fun with structure. My favorite part of MP is Dick VanDyke’s cockney accent.

  • bro-de-mopsy

    Awesome – you are indeed a brilliant writer.

    BTW – I like “Chim-chiminey Chim-chiminey Chim Chim, Charoo”!

  • […] 1. My chronic daydream is to be Mary Poppins—I’d love to have her skills. Sigh…to zip right up the bannister with a basket of laundry folded by my authoritative snap? What a talent. All the Jolly Holidays, tea on the ceiling with requisite hilarity, bright spoons brimming with strawberry cordial, and rooftop galavanting! The ability to pull whatever I need from a ratty carpet bag. In fact, in December 2004 I wrote an entire post about my desire to be Mommy Poppins. […]

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