Butterfly Inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come from the most unexpected things, in the most unexpected ways.

My next to the oldest daughter Emma has recently taken a fancy to butterflies. She worked hard to earn a butterfly catching net, and has been busily catching and studying butterflies. One day a few weeks ago, Emma found a caterpillar. She captured it, and placed it in a Mason jar. She then fed it upon the leaves on which it was found. For the next few days the caterpillar ate and ate. Then, one day it turned into a chrysalis. I thought that was THE coolest thing!

It was just a waiting game after that. I am sure you can imagine how excited Emma was to get to watch a butterfly be born. Each day she would check the chrysalis to see if it was close to being ready. Upon further study, the children discovered that this caterpillar could turn in to a Swallowtail butterfly. The excitement grew as the chrysalis began to change slowly.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to go and see family for the holiday weekend. We were only going to be gone one night. Emma came to me and pleaded with me to bring her jar which contained the chrysalis. She feared that the butterfly would emerge while we were gone. I told her that one more day would be fine, and insisted that she wouldn’t want to carry the jar the entire three hour drive. She said she wouldn’t mind, but in the end I won out and the jar was left at home.

When we returned home the chrysalis had changed dramatically. The end had turned a darkish brown color and there was what looked like a gash in one side. We thought that it was just about ready to be hatched, but sent her to bed, knowing that it would probably emerge in the morning.

The next morning we were just beginning to sing for our morning devotional, and someone gasped. There it was, in all of it’s splendor and glory. The swallow tail butterfly. The butterfly had emerged and somehow had made it’s way from the kitchen counter in the jar, to our back door. We all gathered around the Swallowtail, and realized something devastating. Because the butterfly had emerged in the jar since we weren’t there to let it out, it’s wings had hardened with a slight curl to them. As I am sure you can imagine, a Swallowtail butterfly wouldn’t fit in a Mason jar very well.

I was in tears. Here we were watching this poor butterfly try to fly, and it was flying wobbly and weakly because of how it’s wings had formed. If I had only listened! Emma was inspired and she had known that her butterfly would be emerging soon. If I had only let her bring the jar, this could have all been avoided. Emma would have gotten to see the butterfly hatch, which would have been amazing for her, and this poor beautiful Swallowtail, would have been able to fly away happily, and survive.

I learned much from this lesson. The most important thing being, listen to the inspiration of others, especially my children. They have insights to things that I may not recognize or notice because I am too busy. The second thing is the realization that inconvenience to myself, for something that is important to my child, is worth it! The third thing I learned is how important and precious God’s creatures are to me. This little butterfly sacrificed so much so that I could learn from it’s life to be better in mine.

I apologized profusely to Emma. I felt horrible. She forgave me right away, which was wonderful. I wish I had been more humble and listened to her inspiration.

This was an incredible and sad lesson for me in learning to listen to and trust my child’s inspiration. I hope to do better with this in the future.

Have you ever had experiences like this one, where you received inspiration that came from your children? If so, I would love to hear about it!

3 Responses to "Butterfly Inspiration"

  • Your butterfly incident reminds me of a sad mishap I had with my daughter’s beautiful yellow bird in April. When I think about the mistakes I have made with my children, I often think about a poem called “Thanks, Robert Frost” by David Ray.


    Mr. Ray expresses perfectly what all parents feel, I think. We hope that, in spite of our frailties and mistakes, our children will rise above our flawed parenting.

    1 Dianna Kearney said this (June 2, 2010 at 10:54 pm)

  • I’m sad for the poor butterfly too!

    2 Aaron said this (June 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm)

  • I think it’s a metaphor. In both cases we should have just let them spread their wings and fly….

    3 Donna said this (April 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm)

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