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Glitter On: The Reminder Every Mom Needs from Netflix’s “Unicorn Store”

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I finally finished “Unicorn Store” tonight.

e7cc1898a538b0ae05ba015c49f637609b17584e.jpgI had started it twice before, but both times after a long day of work — eyes barely open to begin with — then Alex Greenwald’s hypnotic score basically lulled me off to sleep. I was so intrigued by the premise and trailer (plus what I’d already seen) that I couldn’t wait to try again.

Not being able to shake the smile that keeps forming as I think back to certain scenes, I had to get my thoughts on paper.

b8a1e04528f14297a570d4511ece259917ac6b14.jpgAs a child of the glorious 80s, the opening flashbacks to Care Bears, brightly colored bead bracelets and hula hoops, and the magic only Lisa Frank could guarantee, evoked something in me you really only “get” if you remember how these childhood hallmarks made you feel. Invincible at eight in my Mom’s handmade Rainbow Brite costume (which would still be considered totally amazing on today’s Pinterest scale), we were living in a fantasy land and didn’t even know it. Life was ever in full ROYGBIV brilliance and only asked us to keep spreading our very own brand of sparkle.

The world had not broken us yet. It had not made us question the validity of what we were uniquely designed to create.

But along the way, someone else told us our creations weren’t worthy. That what we took from our head and turned into a living work, wasn’t to be cherished. That there was not a place in this grown-up land for our pink and gold glitter.

I should have probably mentioned in the beginning of this post that “Unicorn Store” is Brie Larson’s directorial debut. I might be biased coming off my love for the vulnerability-fueled strength of her Carol Danvers in “Captain Marvel,” but Larson’s characters are quickly becoming the women I want my daughters to know.

I think you have to take in her latest work a few times to really absorb it. She’s crafted a beautiful harmony of embracing childhood longings while learning who we are as adults, understanding they are not mutually exclusive. All with gorgeous, poignant cinematography and solid punches of humor and charm from an outstanding cast.

The addition of Mamoudou Athie’s Virgil is a true delight. He becomes a pivotal force in Kit’s story, both believing in and supporting her unrelenting draw to the seemingly unreal. He truly sees the value of her art and actively surrounds her with it. His line of “if you were a building, this is what you’d look like” — shared while walking Kit through a display of her pieces from the last two decades — will probably end up on a canvas in my house one day. I adore this thought.

24639416b61b927a4219c583fa68e296df4a139f.jpgSo, for all us moms just trying to make it through the day, keep our kids fed and alive, and hold down a household and career — what does this film hold for us? So much, I think.

When did we start letting everyone else decide what is beautiful? When did the dazzle we bring to this jaded society get deemed “not welcome” by, well, someone really jaded? When did we relinquish the power of what we write, what we paint, what we sing on a stage — to an era in the past? When did we stop engaging in the life-altering art of imagining what could be?

Please give this one a watch. Let it remind you of why you were created to create. Let it motivate you to pick up a paintbrush, a microphone, a pair of toe shoes. Let it free you to, once again, glitter on. Let it help you be the one who also sees the Unicorn Store your kids do, and reassures them that what they bring to this world is stunning and filled with incomprehensible worth.

Because you might just find that in your quest to recapture something magical — in between piles of dishes and laundry, endless commutes and doctor’s appointments, school calendars and work trips — you end up finding it’s closer than you ever thought. It’s you, mama, and has always been.

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