A couple of weeks ago, K found a fluffy brown caterpillar outside. A quick web search to determine if it was safe to touch revealed it as a Leopard Moth. My little scientist begged me to let her keep it, so we resurrected the old butterfly cage from the closet, sought out several leaves he might enjoy munching and waited.
After a week, our woolly friend climbed to the top of his habitat and built a hammock of sorts from thin golden webbing. It wasn't quite the cocoon we expected to see, but he was very still so we assumed nature was taking its course.
Sunday morning we awoke to a somewhat disgusting sight. The caterpillar was shedding his fluffy exterior to reveal a sticky whitish pupae that turned black within a couple of hours. (I am wrinkling my nose even as a type the description.)
"Mom, I thought you said he was going to be a beautiful moth. This doesn't look like the pictures!"
Truly, his current state is nothing like his projected beauty...and, yet, it is necessary to the process. To the naked eye, all development seems to have stalled--but that's only because we can't see the miraculous changes happening on the inside.
And as we wait 2-3 weeks for his final glory to be revealed, I am reminded that much is made of the miracle of metamorphosis, but the process typically isn't very pretty. Fascinating, yes. Attractive, not so much.
My natural inclination was to think of this as a metaphor for parenting--especially as we enter the "middle years" known for their awkward, smelly, cringe-worthiness. My children are in a phase of tremendous inner and outer growth--and part of that is an age-appropriate self consciousness as they seek their place in this big old world.
In my writing, I too am entering a pupae stage. As I approach 40, my perspective on life is shifting. I am slowing down and longing to savor more privately these gloriously messy days.
I love telling stories about my children and what I am learning during this amazing process of watching them change and grow. But they are people whose stories are increasingly their own to tell. Two of the three periodically read the blog. One has expressly forbidden me to post photos without their approval--and I intend to honor that even though it initially bummed me out.
Because just as our fledgling moth needs a safe place to rest and grow and evolve into what God intended--so do my children. My home must be a place where they can enjoy privacy, authenticity and security--and so as much as I adore sharing, their growth is the priority. The day they stop sharing things with me for fear they will end up on the Internet will be the day I know things got painfully out of whack somewhere along the way.
I have no dramatic plans to quit blogging, but I do have a continued conviction to continue shifting my writing in a way that honors my people and protects their process of growing up. There's far too much on the line to do otherwise.