We’re not talking about Bruno… no, no, no. But, we are talking about Encanto‘s middle child, Luisa Madrigal, born with the magical gift of super strength. Reliable and ripped, Luisa is an incredible asset to her family and community, rounding up donkeys and moving pianos without batting an eye.
It’s not until Luisa fears she might be losing her gift that she confides in Mirabel about the constant pressure and stress she feels burdened with during “Surface Pressure.” And although the Encanto song is performed from the perspective of an older sibling, there’s no denying that it strikes a chord with moms everywhere.
“Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop. Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop.”
I mean, what mom doesn’t feel that on a regular basis? I’ve definitely gone “pop” more times than I care to admit.
The truth is that moms generally bear the weight of the family responsibilities, whether it’s grocery shopping and meal planning, coordinating for school events (don’t forget those Valentines!), or just being constantly needed. Add a two-year pandemic on top of all that, and the line, “Under the surface, I hide my nerves, and it worsens, I worry something is gonna hurt us,” takes on a whole new meaning.
As an anxious, overachieving mom who feels like she always has to have it outwardly together despite feeling like a “tightrope walker in a three-ring circus,” I relate to Luisa on so many levels. But, I had a bit of an epiphany during my second Encanto viewing about what we can also learn from her.
We Don’t Have to Do It All
Ever the helpful one, Luisa tends to take on tasks that are unnecessary or could have been executed by someone else. Like, I’m sure it’s nice to have the church moved to a more “optimal location,” but really? It would have been just fine where it previously stood. And, Señor Rendon can round up his own donkeys, quite frankly. It will take him more effort than it does Luisa, but he is perfectly capable.
We do this ALL. THE. TIME. as moms. We take on things that others can handle because we can do them (and expect ourselves to) even when it’s too much. Don’t be afraid to delegate your tasks, even with your kiddos. Yes, it will take them longer and it may not be perfect, but it will get done (eventually), and hopefully, they’ll appreciate it a bit more next time.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay
Luisa also internalizes all of her anxiety and stress and only talks about it after being outed by her twitching eye. She fears her family and her community might see her differently if she doesn’t maintain her strong, tough exterior. It’s pretty clear how much she needed to talk after her post-performance hug nearly squishes Mirabel.
Mama, if you’re struggling, talk to someone. Talk to your partner, your friend, a parent, a therapist, a fellow mom. Even if it’s not in your nature to verbalize things, just do it. Having someone listen and hear you can make all the difference.
We Are Worth More Than Our Tasks
“I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service” shows just how much Luisa’s identity is tied to her accomplishments and hard work. When Luisa does lose her gift temporarily, it leaves her bereft. She has no idea who she is as a person without her strength. But, her family and community still care about and value her.
Being a working mom, I constantly struggle with the “work/life balance” and feel like I need to get more done. I know many moms measure their daily success on how many things they checked off their list; loads of laundry done, errands run, appointments made… But, we’re worth more than what we’ve accomplished today, and our children love us for how we make them feel, not how much we did.
We Have a Community Willing to Help
After the Madrigals lose their home and their gifts toward the end of Encanto, their neighbors and friends come with supplies to help them rebuild. They realize how much the Madrigal family has done for the community, and the community is ready to give back.
It may not always seem like it, but you have a community that is there when you need them. Friends, neighbors, other moms — the ones who you’ve given to can help. Sometimes you just need to ask.
Free Some Room Up for Joy and Relaxation
Daydreams shouldn’t be the only place Luisa can let go and relax, and it certainly shouldn’t be for moms either. Luisa finally kicks back at the very end of the movie (after being forced into relaxation by a donkey) and enjoys a beverage while the others work.
Take a note from Luisa’s book every once in a while. If you have people encouraging you to relax, listen. If you need to make it happen for yourself, it’s worth it.
Besides, I’m sure the kiddos won’t mind watching Encanto for the 328th time while you enjoy some “me time.”