For parents, this Frozen II Song has a lot of triggers.
First, I should start off by saying that I am pretty prone to tears. I not only cry during adult movies, television shows, and songs; but more recently I have cried at the scene in Moana where her grandmother’s spirit follows her out of the reef as a glowing manta ray and in Coco when Miguel sang to his grandmother so she would remember her late father. Still, when I cry it is usually easily justified, so I was surprised when I found myself wiping away tears during the four-minute musical sequence of Frozen II’s Song, “Show Yourself”. I was even more surprised when I cried driving my daughter to school at 8:15 in the morning when we heard the song on Pandora. So, I decided to listen to the song on my own and figure out what was triggering so many tears.”
I will get into the specifics of why I think this song can be so triggering for some of us, especially women and especially mothers. However; I want to start with some research I learned about why music makes us cry in the first place. According to a 2017 article of Psychology Today, the first risk factor for musical tears is a personality susceptible to crying, which includes various traits I won’t get into. For me, that is a definite yes! As I have explained, crying and I are very closely acquainted. Next, the research found that there are two fundamental emotions people report feeling when they cry due to music, sadness, and awe. Now I’m getting somewhere.
“For me, this song seems to trigger feelings of sadness. Specifically, for my twenty-something-year-old self and the twenty-something-year-old girl my daughter will become.”
In essence, for those who have not watched the movie or heard the music, the song summarizes Elsa’s journey through movie number one and what the audience has watched so far in movie number two. It ends with Elsa finally understanding her potential and feeling more confident and at ease with who she is. To me, the story of this character can relate to almost every single person on the planet and this song beautifully and emotionally connected with my own journey.
The first person I thought about was myself. Elsa is unwittingly communicating with her mother, who she no longer speaks with because she is dead, as is very “on-brand” for Disney. However; she recognizes that she has this need to connect with this voice she keeps hearing and understands that she has a lot to learn from this person, and this person feels “like…home”.
When I became a teenager, I started to want to assert my own authority in my life. From what I’m realizing now, every teenager feels exactly the same way. This power struggle between my parents and I evolved into a dark period in our relationship where I moved out of “their” home because it didn’t feel like my home anymore, at the age of twenty-one and didn’t speak to them again for almost two years. During that time although I was more independent and was certainly asserting my own authority, I felt lost, sad and made some pretty questionable decisions. In the song, Elsa starts to say that she’s “ready to learn” and wondering if this person is “the way” to becoming better and stronger. I didn’t know it at the time, but the emotional journey I had to take apart from my parents was making me yearn for guidance and connection with them. I eventually received a phone call from my mother very late at night, out of the blue, at the precise moment I needed her the most. Although I’m certainly skeptical about cosmic energies and written destinies, the timing of that connection and the indisputable bond between parent and child was on display at that moment.
The one word of the song that triggers the most tears, and where I let my daughter take the reins of the song because I can’t sing anymore, is actually sung by a different character altogether, Elsa’s mom. Yes, the dead one, you really have to watch the movie to understand. She sings, “Come, my darling, homeward bound”. The word “homeward” is what does me in. It took me a long time to get back to the healthy and comfortable place I am with my parents now. I’ll venture to say that my relationship with my mother wasn’t truly healed until I became a mother to a little girl myself and saw her in a new light, talk about Karma. Which brings me to my next point.
The other aspect of this song that makes me sad, is when I think about my daughter going through her own journey.
My little girl is currently four years old and still has a, hopefully, long time before the fight or flight response of the teenage years start to put a strain on our relationship. However, I am not naïve enough to believe that we will be immune to this common parental right of passage and I feel genuinely sad when I consider what a young woman her age regularly experiences. Verse two of the song finds Elsa singing about her youth, a time where she felt “different”, “torn” and looking for her purpose. It almost makes me smile with irony when I think about the fact that one of the things that unites all young people together is how different and misunderstood the majority of them feel. Yet, how can we as adults who look like we know what we are doing (although that is also a huge misconception) relay to our kids that we all feel that way? That not knowing who you are, and what you will be; is beautiful, normal and safe. How can we tell our children that their lack of self-esteem is a lie, that everyone has insecurities and that finding the people you fit in with, the activities that inspire you and self-love take time?
The bridge of the song is very moving. It’s Elsa screaming to this voice to “open (the) door” and not “make (her) wait one moment more”. That desperation is extremely relatable and, as I can imagine, difficult to watch as a parent. It’s this desperation to fit in, be the best and feel the freedom that often drives young people to make rash and ill-advised decisions. I can only imagine the pain and stress I caused my parents as they had no choice since I didn’t give them one, but to sit back and watch me as I (in my own driven desperation) made decisions they passionately disagreed with. This makes me wonder what my own little girl’s journey will be like. What decisions will she make that I will have no choice but to sit back and watch unfold? What pieces of her heart will we, as her unconditionally loving parents, have to help her mend and put back together? Most importantly, how can we encourage her to reach the end of this song faster?
At the end of the song, Elsa realizes that she is “…the one (she’s) been waiting for…All of (her) life”. This is, in my opinion, the ultimate goal for us as parents. To instill the kind of self-esteem, self-awareness, self-reliance and overall sense of SELF, that allows our children to reach their goals and live their best life. But, how? How do we help them “step into (their) power”? How do we give them the confidence to take risks and “throw (themselves) into something new”? I don’t think there is one answer to any of these questions if not someone would have patented the formula and would be making a killing selling it to all of us desperate parents!
I think we just have to “trust their journey” and teach them to always do “the next right thing”.
Thank you, Disney, for another great life lesson to this now-adult woman.
Frozen II is definitely mom time worthy! Worth the extra thought put into it and worth the movie snuggles going through it.