Yesterday we took the kids to the lake aquarium and science center to the see the live butterfly exhibit. My partner and I loved it; the kids loved it in theory. The humidity of the tent, the smell of rotting bananas which the butterflies feed on, and the erratic nature of their flight patterns, made the butterflies seem more annoying than beautiful.
After spending most of our time in the hands-on kid’s section of the museum, we walked to the park on the waterfront, had an overpriced hot dog, and sat in the grass to take it all in. It wasn’t a surprise that the space was crowded. It was a gorgeous late summer day in our quaint and funky city that will too soon be covered in ice and snow.
My partner reminded me that it was also move-in weekend for many of the colleges in town. We watched group after group of older teenagers and early 20 somethings travel in packs that stood out because of their uniformity. Dance clubs, comedy troops, fraternities, and sororities moved together, clusters of similar looking individuals trying to find their identity while in the safety of conformity.
My oldest daughter couldn’t take her eyes off of the dozen young women making a film to advertise their sorority. The hair flipping, the attempts to fit it, the need to find a home while skipping through the park, building human pyramids, and laughing too loud annoyed me. My daughter thought they were beautiful.
And right before my eyes, I saw the live butterfly exhibit my daughter had been waiting for. These women were me 20 years ago. They were a preview of my daughter 20 years from now. This transformation from crawling to flying, of growth and independence is exciting for my daughter. I understand the excitement, but it terrifies me. I have pain from my own flight; my heart already hurts from the flight my daughter will take.
My daughter will move in patterns I may not choose for her and will find ways to stay safe while blending in. I hope she allows me to remain close enough to guide her but has the confidence to be annoying and erratic in her path toward independence.
Her wings are too beautiful to stay tucked inside a cocoon.
This post was originally published on Family Rhetoric by Amber Leventry on August 27th, 2017.