Two Sundays ago, I took my two oldest daughters to the Mother-Daughter Fertility Appreciation Tea and Fashion Show, sponsored by our nearest group of Fertility Care Friends. We’ve also watched Disney’s Tangled twice in the past month-ish.
Stay with me. There’s a connection.
In Tangled, we see that Rapunzel’s been kept from Truth in order to keep someone else happy. It’s a false happy (because we’re all going to get old and die) and it’s a temporary happy (see previous “because”), but Rapunzel doesn’t know that. She’s only ever gotten Mother Gothel’s version of reality (see: relativism), and that’s the version that keeps Rapunzel up in a tower, raised on lies. As soon as Rapunzel wants to see the Truth for herself (the floating lights), Gothel tells her that she can’t handle the Truth (Disney’s Jack Nicholson), and then she proceeds to twist what Truth is. We get all this in the song “Mother Knows Best.”
But Truth eventually finds us, because it’s all around us. Even if we stay in our towers, sometimes it accidentally climbs in through the window. Rapunzel’s encounter and then adventure with Truth (led by a thief of all people) gives her the chance to find the clues of who she really is. Finally, even when Gothel re-traps her with more lies, the clues fall into place. Rapunzel claims her identity. She claims the Truth.
“I’m the lost princess.”
I participated in a support group a long time ago. One thing I remember about that group was that I was one of only a very small handful who wanted or had children. “I don’t want to repeat the past,” the others said. “I could never have kids. I’m too damaged.”
Then I had kids. I have never done a more healing thing. See, up in my tower, I was told things like, “You’re making a big deal out of nothing. You can’t take proper care of yourself, so that’s why I have to do these things.” There were co-morbid lies, including, but not limited to, “Fat people can’t do things like be loved, dress nicely, or exercise.”
“Mother knows best!”
I didn’t realize it until that Mother-Daughter Tea, where my daughters heard pure Truth about their bodies and souls, but my whole parenting style has been something like this: I work for a security system company, and it’s my job to install in my kids’ amazing brains a series of security alarms. Whenever they hear something that is not objective Truth, an alarm goes off.
Whether the lie is, “Long division is too hard to learn. I’ll never get it.”
…or something more like, “I need to be the center of attention, and getting people to look at me for my body will make that happen.”
Because I’m Catholic and teaching my kids to be so, we have objective Truth available to us, and we cannot be threatened by it. Frightened by it, maybe, but we know it’s there to get us to the eternal embrace in the arms of our heavenly King, so the fear is something we can move past.
Here’s what’s been so healing about being Security System Servicemom. As I set those alarms in my kids’ heads,they’re being reset in mine.
“Fat people can’t do things like be loved…” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
“…dress nicely…” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
“…or exercise.” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! (Dude, that one’s so obvious, it doesn’t even need a link.)
I recently had a close relative from the tower demonstrate to me that the first thing you should notice about a person is how much weight he’s gained. That would’ve seemed right and proper to me before. Now?
I have another close relative from the tower demonstrate to me that he relishes telling people how wrong they are. Before I would’ve just gotten down on myself. Now 1 Corinthians 13 rings in my head, and it rings with a loud, loving, Truthful BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
October is Respect Life month. So many of us, raised in the tower and raised on lies, have bought the lie that we are too damaged, either by the past or the present, to be good parents. And so, come heck or high water, we’d better make sure we never have to parent. Well guess what Security System Servicemom does? She sets the alarms so well that even if she herself tells the lie, the kids hear BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
(The lie I seem to tell most is “I should yell at you like a banshee for your mistakes—sinful ones or not.”)
If you join up with the Truth in parenting, and if the Truth is the person of God Himself… how can you possibly be too damaged? You can’t. You just can’t. And if you tell yourself that you are, guess what you’ll hear resounding in all four corners of your mind? BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
“You’re making a big deal out of nothing. You couldn’t take proper care of yourself, so that’s why I had to do these things.”
With the Truth in my head, I now cry out against those lies from the tower. “You were wrong about the world, and you were wrong about me, and I will never let you use my hair again.” Then I run back into the arms of my true Mother. Then the King, my True Father, embraces us both.
Are you Security System Servicemom, setting alarms in your kids’ heads? In your own head? How does the Truth set you free from your tower?
Copyright 2014, Erin McCole-Cupp
About the Author
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. She's working with Our Sunday Visitor on a book about parenting spirituality for survivors of family abuse and dysfunction. Find out more about her novels and other projects at ErinMcColeCupp.com.