Mothermorphosis

“Hey, are you going to reunion this year?”

A message from my childhood friend caught me by surprise. Apparently it has been 20 years since we graduated from high school and the reunion is in July. I have never been to a high school reunion.

My friend is in California, so the time difference meant that I read the message as I munched on my granola and drank my morning tea. I tried to imagine what my former schoolmates must look like. How have they changed? What are they doing now? Would anyone even recognise me?

I know I probably look a bit like the person I was 20 years ago, but I feel completely different. In fact, it seems absurd to think that I am anything like the person I used to be.

Today I thought of this as my children and I dipped our nets into a local pond and observed the creatures we found. Damselfly and dragonfly larvae are pond monsters, living in those murky waters for 2-5 years before they crawl onto a reed, shed their old bodies and emerge as the flying jewels we all know.

damselfyly husk

Today, of all days, was the day the damselflies decided to emerge. And we watched.

damselfly collage two

As I lay on my tummy observing these insects’ incredible transformation I turned to my friend and said, “This is a metaphor for motherhood, you know.”

Of course all people change throughout their lives. When grandma comes to visit she takes one look at the children, throws up her arms and exclaims, “Oh! You got so BIG!” She recognises the change because she hasn’t seen them in a while. From day to day it is almost imperceptible, but change nevertheless happens.

The alteration in a woman when she becomes a mother seems somehow different and more startling. I believe that it is one of the major transformative experiences in a woman’s life. Becoming a mother is such a drastic change for a woman, such a milestone, that the transformation leaves her almost unrecognisable from the person she was before. It’s a metamorphosis.

damsel on hand

At least that’s what happened to me.

The damselfly larva and the damselfly are the same animal—just at different stages of their life cycle. In essence, I am the same creature that my mother gave birth to all those years ago. I’m Lisa. At this stage of my life cycle I am a mother. Before motherhood, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Now, I wear my skin like a comfortably warm and colourful (but somewhat misshapen) mantle. Before motherhood, I focussed on myself and all the things that interested me in my narrow world. Now, I learn new things every day because I am discovering the world through the lens my children hold before my eyes. Before motherhood, I did what I thought I should be doing. Now, I feel that I am following my vocation. Before motherhood, I was preparing to live my adult life. Now, I am living my life’s purpose.

Does the damselfly remember her larval husk? I can barely recall what I was like before motherhood. But I do know that I was more self-centred, less compassionate, more exacting, less patient, and overall, a lot more uptight. Shedding that tight skin did me a whole lot of good. Motherhood has given me wings.

©Lisa Hassan Scott, 2014.

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