Are You Mary Poppins or Fraulein Rottenmeier?
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I like to think of myself as Mary Poppins – patient, imaginative, and (eh-hem) practically perfect in every way. Recently, however, I’ve been more of a Fraulein Rottenmeier.
If your childhood wasn’t blessed by the magic of Heidi, Fraulein Rottenmeier is the archetype of the negative mother. She’s a stickler for manners, efficiency, safety, and decorum. She is, as her name implies, a killer of joy and trampler of any type of merriment.
Like a Rottenmeier, I’ve been forcing myself to get up early and practice mantra, even though my heart and mind were just not into it anymore.
I’d start Om bhurh bhuva swaha …. I wonder if I’ll have time to do the laundry before work … tat savitur … maybe I could go to a class this weekend? .. vanyan… And on and on I’d go. At the end of my mantra practice, I’d end up tense, having just squeezed in my thirty-minute practice before quickly journaling and running to make breakfast.
I’d convinced myself that chanting mantra was still beneficial because the sounds would reverberate in my mind and body throughout the day, and Swami said that we should stick to our practices for at least six months and it had only been ninety days.
So, I grew more rigged in my practices – squeezing in a full yoga practice most days and signing up for a workshop with a revered teacher. That way I would have to practice more to be “ready” for the day of the workshop.
Needless to say, I was not a ray of Poppins, I was a curmudgeonly Rottenmeier trying to bend myself and everyone around me to my exacting will.
I continued to fume and stomp about until I channeled my inner Heidi and metaphorically through a box of kittens into the house (true fans will get that reference).
I thought to myself, what if I just let myself be? What if I just let everything get really messy and followed the drumming of my heart? This permission led me to dig through my oracle card box where I searched for a deck I hadn’t seen in years.
I came across a bottle of Stormwalker Shadow Poppy Flower Essence and it was half full, so I took the recommended four drops. Admittedly, that’s more Alice In Wonderland than Poppins, but sometimes life doesn’t fit the metaphor. Then, I sat at my altar with the once-lost deck, shuffled, and pulled a card to meditate on. The card reminded me that sometimes what I’m responding to is not the present, but a past wound or samskara.
Mary Poppins or Fraulein Rottenmeier?
Perhaps, I’m being too diligent in my self-care, too protective against ghosts that no longer exist. Fraulein Rottenmeier probably began as a nurturing caregiver, but life was hard in late 1800s Germany for a woman on her own. She had to create rituals and rules to protect herself and those in her charge, but it went too far. Soon she was fighting ghosts and pushing those she cared for far away.
There’s is actually a part in the story when Fraulein Rottenmeier is literally fighting imaginary ghosts and pushing people around, but I digress …
As further validation, this morning I received this message from The Pattern App, “Don’t be afraid to break out of rigid structures, mindsets, and attitudes.” It got me thinking about how whole universes are built out of chaos. Discipline is important to move us linearly forward in this material reality, but chaos, creativity, and whimsy can birth whole new worlds.
Mary Poppins embodies both. She is the positive mother archetype, providing the proper guardrails, while not exerting her will over all of creation. As a role model, I can do no better.
Now, I ask myself every day am “Mary Poppins or Fraulein Rottenmeier?” The choice is ours.
I’d love to here your thoughts on this. Comment below.