December 19, 2014
Earlier this week, you and I had a conversation that I’ll never forget. You’re 4-and-a-half (although I feel like I just brought you home from the hospital… I swear I only blinked). You’re so full of life. Your energy and enthusiasm make me smile every day!
We needed groceries. Badly. So we hopped in the car and drove to Sam’s Club. It was one of those evenings when I didn’t have much time after work to make dinner, so we opted for pizza at Sam’s. After ordering a few slices of pepperoni pizza (you may only weigh 31 pounds, but you can put away an entire slice of Sam’s pizza by yourself), I sat down across from you and began cutting your pizza into little bite-size pieces.
You asked me how my day at work went.
By the way, that’s not typical for a preschooler. Most 4-year-olds are only interested in Dora the Explorer. Not you. You like to ask questions. You’re a relationship builder. You care about people’s thoughts and ideas, and you carry on conversations better than many teenagers I know.
So I started talking about my day at work. Advertising, marketing, strategic communications... and you listened politely. Then we talked about careers. We discussed a variety of things that grown-ups do to make a living. We talked about different professions, such as being a teacher, a scientist, a computer engineer, a chef, etc.
I asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up.
I was thinking you might say doctor, lawyer, or President of the United States. But you didn’t. Your answer was profound and perfect.
“I want to be a butterfly.”
I smiled at the honest simplicity of your response. At first, I thought you might be joking, but you were entirely serious. You knew with absolute certainty – and without hesitation – that you were going to be a butterfly when you grew up.
As you finished eating your pizza, I quietly pondered your matter-of-fact response. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I thought about what you said.
Butterflies aren’t born as butterflies. They start out as caterpillars. They crawl around slowly, learning about the world around them, growing day by day.
Then they create a chrysalis, cocooning themselves away for a time. Inside that cocoon, a wonderful transformation takes place. They grow wings. They change into a new creature.
As a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, it has to experience incredible pain. As it works to crawl out of the chrysalis, the pressure put on the butterfly’s wings is what enables it to fly. If the cocoon breaks, or someone assists the butterfly in its exit from the cocoon in order to make it easier, the butterfly may not be able to fly because its wings didn’t receive the necessary and life-giving pressure from the chrysalis.
Julia, you will be a beautiful butterfly when you grow up. You may experience times when you feel like you’re only crawling, but that’s an important part of the process. You’re learning about the world around you.
In life, you may encounter pain and pressure. Don’t be alarmed. It is for your benefit. That pressure is building in you the character you’ll need to fly.
Yes, Julia. You’re going to be a butterfly.
A stunningly beautiful butterfly.
And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
I love you immensely,