With this beautiful spring weather, my boys and I have been loving all the butterflies around. My 3-year-old, Luke, was giddy with excitement when a giant monarch came so close, he could have touched it.
I explained to them how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, and I loved the wonder and amazement on their little faces. It made me think about the transformation I’ve been witnessing my kids go through recently.
When my oldest son, James, was a baby, every challenge seemed impossible and felt like it lasted forever. The world would dim around us, and I’d hyper focus on whatever my little baby was struggling with — nursing, lactose issues, colic, napping or refusing to sleep at night. As he got older, I became engrossed in books and articles to help with his tantrums, anger issues, potty training, etc. I’d do whatever I could think of to help him get past that stage.
Inevitably though, he would figure it out on his own, or learn some wacky way of handling the problem. It reminded me of how you really can’t help a caterpillar in the process of transforming into a butterfly. It’s important that they struggle to break out of their cocoon because it’s the struggle that makes them strong enough to fly once they’re out.
Obviously our kids aren’t caterpillars (though sometimes I feel like they move at the speed of a caterpillar). They need quite a bit of assistance, encouragement and instruction along the way. But I was reminded, yet again, of how amazing the transformation our children go through is.
The most recent challenge we’ve been facing with our boys is their constant fighting. At ages 3 and 5, they are at very different stages in life. We’ve been working with them on trying to find common ground, using the right words when they’re mad or frustrated, and learning when to take a break. And as soon as I’m convinced they’ll never get it and will never play really well together, suddenly the transformation takes place.
At first I figured it was a fluke, just a really good day for them. But it kept happening. I’d hear their giggles and peak in on them playing and watch in awe as they’d put Legos together, come up with elaborate stories for their action figures, or read books to each other. I’d listen in when tensions would rise, assuming I’d have to break up a fight, but then be pleasantly surprised when they’d talk it out, or one would take a break to calm down.
My husband and I would whisper about it, not wanting to jinx anything. But there was no denying, a change had taken place, and it was beautiful!
I know there will be many more challenges ahead. Though the struggle and learning process is never easy, I’ve seen how my boys — and I — come out so much stronger on the other side of it. So for now I’m relishing in the beauty.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.