Ducks and Butterflies


I have always had a soft heart for animals of almost any kind. (Sorry snakes and rats… not you!). When I was growing up, we lived on a small 5 acre “farm”. I hesitate to call it a farm… I think it was more of an experiment for my parents to test out the country life! We had a few cows, chickens, a horse, geese, peacocks (I know…what on earth?), and ducks.

Behind our house we had a small pond, which is where our ducks made their home. In that pond lived turtles… very large turtles. We soon discovered, as part of our farm experiment, that these particular turtles liked to eat baby ducks. We found this out soon after one of our ducks had a family of little baby ducks. They started disappearing one by one and we soon realized that it was because they were being snatched up by the turtles. One baby duck survived, and I took him under my wings and raised him.

I named my duck Maverick, after the character in the movie Top Gun. Maverick came into our house, and took to me like I was his mama. He followed me around, rarely leaving my side. I would feed him the bugs captured in our bug zapper. We became very close and I was proud of how smart my little guy was. He grew and grew until one day my mom informed me that it wasn’t fair to keep Maverick from entering the world of ducks. She said it was time to let him be free.

i remember being absolutely devestated on the day my mom made me release Maverick. I just knew that he wasn’t going to leave me. I knew that I would put him in the pond and he would come right back to me and follow me back into the house. Afterall, I was his mama… I raised him, nurtured him, and helped him grow to be the duck he became. He wasn’t just going to drop our relationship just like that.

Boy was I wrong… I took Maverick out to the pond, put him in the water and he never came to me again. My heart was broken as I learned the hard way my first real lesson in the difficulty of cutting the ties and letting something you love go so that it can grow.

Fast forward 20+ years later. My mother-in-law gave us a mail order butterfly house. You know, you mail off a postcard and a few days later you get “larva” in the mail. You keep them in their container until they have built their cocoons and then you place them into their mesh butterfly house.

I kept the container and the butterfly house right next to my computer. It was so fascinating to see these catepillars grow and grow, build their cocoons and then hatch into beautiful butterflies. The kids and I talked to them each day, encouraged them, and became so proud when they first spread their wings to fly. Like all relationships like this one, you eventually have to let your babies leave their home to go and explore the world. For us, this was today, and it was a lot harder than I expected.

As we opened the hatch on the butterfly house to let them go, I started thinking about everything these little guys had accomplished to get to this day…the day to spread their wings and fly into a world of unknown. I became emotional…imagine that. As my babies let these babies out into the world, I couldn’t help but think of the future when I open up our hatch and release my babies into the world to begin a life of their own. Just like my butterflies, I can only hope that I will have given them enough love, encouragement and time to grow into independent, responsible and respectful adults. Until that time, I hope that time slows down so I can relish in the moments we have together. I’m not ready to set them free.