About 20 minutes before I went into labour with my twins, I remember standing with my 20-month-old daughter (and their dad, my first husband) under the beautiful sugar maple on our front lawn. It was late August, and each branch of our tree was covered – literally – with monarch butterflies. Like, it was black and orange under the canopy of leaves.
It was spectacular and I have yet to see anything like it. Even in the three years we lived there, this roost of monarchs did not repeat itself again. Four hours (and four minutes) later, my superlative twin girls were born. Now, at home – and barely breathing – with three kids under two, I forgot about the inundation of butterflies till much later, you know, having been focused on nursing two babies at a time, teaching them the difference between night and day, making sure all three girlies had enough attention and fighting postpartum that I didn’t know I had…
And one day, when that fog had lifted, it came back to me all of a sudden. This happens to me regularly – that little flash of delight that tells me I need to go deeper. It sounds like a silent whisper, but the kind that hits you so firmly in your center you know it’s an intuitive nudge that something important is happening.
So I started looking up the spiritual meaning of the monarch, and as you can probably guess, it is the ultimate harbinger of change.
“It symbolizes transformation and re-birth – the monarch butterflies symbolize rebirth and a new life. They bring change, transformation, and new opportunities. Therefore, a monarch butterfly flying around might be a sign that you need to change.”
The scale of butterflies sent to me felt like a divine heralding of what was to unfold over the course of the next 6.5 years. It brought demons that would need to be confronted, feelings that would need to be felt, wounds that would need to be nursed and healed, and incredibly painful decisions that would need to be made in order to carry out my purpose (and soul contract) in this life.
Even now looking back, it gives me that delicious shivery feeling of knowing this is all so much bigger than we know. I truly believe that was a moment of “my team” (source, the universe, my higher self, passed relatives, God…) giving me some not so subtle foreshadowing that “girl – y’all had better buckle the hell up.”
Here’s what I know to be UNIVERSALLY TRUE about motherhood: it DEMANDS evolution. With the birth of each child, a mother is born; I can tell you straight up that each of my three jewels has been the catalyst of massive transformation, extreme highs and lows, and epic adventures of daily life that I never would have been able to foresee. Motherhood demands constant adaptation of your physical, mental, and emotional self, and is the ultimate intersection of action and flow.
When I was in Austin, TX last month I saw a mural with a Maya Angelou quote painted on it: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” In the noisy (and largely not accountable) online world promising “three easy steps to…” and a vision of motherhood painted as an over-brightened pre-set with Stepford children wearing matching socks and cool haircuts, I need you to remember that the big work – the juicy, real, lasting, life-changing work – is MESSY. It gets deep, can be dark, and invites you to shine your light on your shadowy-est parts to allow for true change, and true results.
If you are one of the few brave ones who’s ready to do this – and maybe you’re DOING this right now – remember, it takes time. Let yourself trust that this change is a long one. A tiring at times one. An “I thought I was done and now I’m going deeper one.” But the breath of fresh air you feel when you’re though is truly YOUR beauty to dwell in.
Women are amazing. To all of the mamas quietly adapting in constant evolution to the ebb and flow of their personal, professional, and family lives, this day is for you. I hope it brings a level of peaceful reflection on what a ride this is, and what a gift to have a seat on the roller coaster. And also brunch.
Happy Mother’s Day, sweetheart.