Sloughing off the Old

Day 25: 

I’ve always loved to see cicada shells clinging to trees and fences.

I think about the little nymph that grew and changed, sloughing off the old skin to fly away.  You don’t have to live in the country to hear their night song – some people hate it. I love it, no matter how loud.

Their transformation is much like the caterpillar who wraps itself in a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly. Sloughing off the old to unfold into a new and better being.

Swiss novelist and playwright Max Frisch said,

“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.”

I like that concept of unfolding. As humans, we are luckier than the cicada or the butterfly. We have an opportunity to continue to change and grow, to recreate ourselves, unfold more than once in our lives.  Our challenge is to make sure that each metamorphosis makes us a better person.

I found an old German proverb that says,

“To change, and to change for the better are two different things.”

I’d never really thought about it that way, but looking back on the years of my life, I can see times of change that didn’t necessarily make me a better person and others that did. Sometimes we go through the not-so-good to reach the better.

Both of my daughters have said to me at different times, “You seemed happier before you went to college.”

I’ve thought a lot about what they said, and realized that in many ways they were right. But it wasn’t earning an education that made me melancholy, but rather the events leading up to that opportunity.

My last child left home.

I married at 17 and started raising a family at 18. By the time I was 25, I had three children who were the focus of my life for the next 18 years. I defined myself by and through them. I loved being a mom and felt that I was at my best during those years.

But when they left home, I had to recreate myself. College was part of that metamorphosis, and I loved every minute of it. But as many of you other mothers will understand, when you’ve done your job well, and your children become self-reliant adults, there’s a void inside you that needs to be filled.

That’s what my girls were seeing – me in the uglier stages of metamorphosis, a little lost, a little sad, searching for the light through my cocoon.

I’ve accomplished many things in the years since, and feel that I’ve emerged from that cocoon, unfolded myself into a better person. But my family will always be the center of who I am, and as my grandchildren come along and grow, I’ll continue to change.

In addition to being the best me I can be, I want to be the best Mimi ever.

Even if it means wearing a tutu on my head.

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