I’ve been out of sorts lately. Feeling overwhelmed, overtaxed, under appreciated.
I notice a heaviness in the middle of my chest.
Now, I can’t remember a time when the heaviness wasn’t there.
“There’s a lot of change going on,” W says.
Our last two have left the nest. One just got his driver’s license and started community college. The other is off to college in Georgia.
“How many caterpillars do you have?” W asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. “Ten?”
At first, I don’t know what my caterpillaring has to do with my heavy chest. But then it hits me.
“Ugh,” I say at the obviousness of it all.
Every year, I grow milkweed in our yard. Monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat one thing. Milkweed.
The butterflies lay their pinhead-sized eggs on the underside of the leaves. I take clippings with eggs or newly hatched caterpillars into the house and put them into an empty 20-gallon aquarium where they’re safe from predators.
Our cats take turns sitting on top of the cage like furry mother hens.
How many caterpillars do you see?
The caterpillars gorge on the milkweed leaves. If you put your ear close, you can actually hear them chomping away. Nom nom. True story.
When the caterpillars get big and fat, they climb to the top of the cage and hang down in a J. They shed their skin and wrap themselves in a chrysalis. Inside this light green sac, they consume their own bodies (gruesome) and then emerge 10 to 14 days later as black and orange winged beauties (beautiful). It’s a narrative I can relate to.
Usually, I find one or two eggs or caterpillars.
This year, I lost count at 10.
That’s a lot of change, transition, transformation.
There’s so much out of my control right now.
It makes me feel unsafe and vulnerable.
I need to have faith that everything will be okay.
That everyone will transition according to plan.
That we will paint ourselves the colors we like best, grow wings and fly.
More transformation, ugh, ugh, ugh
I released a total of 12 (I think) monarch butterflies. The last one flew away today.
I have a new friend, though. This toad that my son named Alvin.
He lives somewhere in our front yard and hops about when I come home at night.
Toad means crossroads, camouflage and watching and waiting before you make a move.
Toads are small but have loud voices. Toad’s message is don’t underestimate the power of your words.
Toad means transformation.
And I have to wonder if this is a stage or if this is just life.