Driving home from school, I asked my 4 year old son Alex about the caterpillars in his classroom.
"Are they butterflies yet? Did they go into their cocoon?" I ask.
"Nope, still caterpillars. It's going to take days and days," Alex says as he looks out his window.
And it got me thinking about caterpillars and butterflies, bare tree branches one day that are blooming buds the next, mothers 9 months pregnant one moment and holding a real live crying baby minutes later.
I've always loved the song "The Rose" and the image at the end, where the seed is under the snow, invisible to all. In the midst of a frigid and bleak winter, it is near impossible to envision that a rose is there, just waiting to bloom. Spring brings renewal and transformation- plain and dare I say creepy looking caterpillars become spectacular butterflies. Amazing! Buried seeds blossom into exquisite blooming flowers. From the barren and harsh winter, beauty emerges and life transforms before us.
This external scene of transformation makes me think of my internal transformation as a teacher. I feel like I'm growing and changing, expanding, seeking out ways to transform myself. While I have always loved teaching, last year was my winter, my most challenging moments where I felt the joy slipping away and a weariness taking hold. I didn't feel excited or enthusiastic; I felt bitter and anxious and resentful and tired. When an opportunity came to switch grade levels and move to third grade, a voice inside me said, "Leap and don't look back." And so I did, and I haven't looked back once. It was the right move for me in so many ways.
This year, I've felt myself stretching like the caterpillar, changing, becoming a new version of myself. I'm searching for opportunities to learn and try new things and I feel a passion and excitement for teaching again. Perhaps it takes a winter of sorts in your soul to make ready for the transformation that comes when you are ready to bloom in a new way. Professionally, I am taking leaps and risks and jumping in and daring myself to learn. After coming dangerously close to burning out, it feels exhilarating to have a burning passion again.
Alex is right. Caterpillars don't become butterflies all at once. It takes days and days but one day, they do change. Kind of like us.