Single Mom Life: Butterflies and Happiness

Our butterflies are starting to hatch as I was reading The Book of Joy, and something really struck me.  The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu were wearily discussing the topic of happiness.  Once again, I was reminded that happiness is a state of mind…a state of being.  Happiness is a choice in the face of difficulties.

“We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.” •” 
― Dalai Lama XIV, 

PictureIt is often difficult to make this choice when we are in the midst terrible fear and trauma. It is tough to choose joy when you are staring tragedy  in the face, and all you want to do is run to your bedroom and hide under your covers, but we must.  We must turn inside of ourselves and find the perspective that brings us joy.  

The butterflies are now flitting around in their plastic habitat.  We watch as their long tongues uncoil and sip up the sugar water we put in there so we can keep them for a few days before we have to let them go.  Their emptied chrysalides lay flaccid on the plastic lid and the area around it is drenched in red.   A red compound is expelled when butterflies break free and it covers the floor and walls.  It looks like a murder scene, but it only means that they have obtained their hard-sought freedom.  There are six in all, and I marvel at the transformation these earth-bound creatures must have undergone to become these fragile flyers.  The caterpillar turns into a liquid and then back into a solid form to finally become a butterfly.  It must be painful.  It must be frightening.  The caterpillar does not seem to question this metamorphosis, and after it must appreciate its transformation.  What a sin if the butterfly is unable to appreciate how far it has come.  What a waste if the butterfly is unable to find joy as it glides through the air because it is too busy being sad about no longer crawling on the ground.

Find your own joy and look only at the open skies that are right in front of you.  Seek only that next strong wind that is going to take you where you need to go next.

Single Mom Life: Invisible

This morning I attended a 5:30 am yoga class.  I love this class, but there is a woman in the class who breathes loudly, large intakes and out takes of breath.  She throws off my flow. I get annoyed and angry at the distraction.

“Why can’t you be silent?”  I say in my head.  “Just be quiet.”

I have spent a lifetime trying to be invisible, but strangely visible. The balance is difficult but manageable.   As a woman, there is a certain persona that we try to extend to the world.  We are kind but strong.  We are emotionally available but emotionally reliable.  We want to be seen as intelligent, but we also want to be seen as beautiful.  These things can happen either simultaneously or individually, but we want them to happen.  We want to be seen, but we only want to be seen in the way we feel the world will accept.

We grapple with being brave and speaking out.  We want to be heard but not if it means that people will be angry or annoyed with us.

I have watched the women around me swallow their thoughts and words like hard stones only to puke them up and cover the people they love with shards of glass.

I have buried my deepest feelings of anger and rage because I felt they were unattractive emotions that were unacceptable to others.  I have judged other women when their emotions seemed out of control, and when these women were not taken seriously, I have silently blamed them for their lack of control.

Back to the woman in my yoga class:  Wanting her to be silent is my lesson from the Universe.  Why do I want her to be silent and invisible?  Is it because she distracts me or is it because she reminds me of what I cannot do?  It reminds me that I continually try to be invisible because the fear of being seen in a way I cannot control or predict scares the shit out of me.  How dare she have the courage to make noise and be seen in this room full of people she does not know during her yoga practice?  How dare she own her space and be comfortable with not being silent and feminine?

How dare…

I want to change. This is my next assignment.  I want to live in a world where women support women, where I support other women, so we don’t have to feel like we want to be visibly invisible.  Where we can be seen and feel comfortable in our own skin.

Step One

Single Mom Life: Killing the Caterpillars

I didn’t mean to do it. My son wanted to order the butterfly kit, so we could watch them transform from crawling caterpillars to delicate butterflies.  I loved this idea. Butterflies are my spirit animal and the thought of being able to rear them to adulthood and watch this beautiful transition thorough life would be inspiring.

Unfortunately, I knew things might be going bad when I came home and my son had already found the box in our mailbox.

“The butterflies arrived today, Mommy. I got them out of the mailbox.”

“Great,” I answered as I put my bags down.  “Let’s take a look.”

“I already took them out and put them in the habitat.  I made sure to give them plenty of food.”  At this point, I was confused. The one thing I knew about these butterflies was that the caterpillars lived for three weeks in their plastic container that had all the food they needed at the bottom.

When I walked into the kitchen it looked like a crime scene.  One caterpillar had escaped from the plastic cup and was crawling to the edge.  It was so tiny, but its back end did not look right.  The plastic spoon Jonah had used to scoop them out was also sitting there.  The other caterpillars had been transferred to the netted butterfly habitat.  The brown “food” was strewn all over the bottom.

“Oh, okay, baby.  Well, I think we need to get them back into their container.  They live there until they turn into a chrysalis,” I said as I started try and scoop up the one that was on the run.

“Oh,” he said simply, not realizing the mass genocide he created.  I was not sure how many caterpillars we were supposed to have because it seemed that some were buried under the taupe colored food. I did my best to get them back in, and I tried not to cover any, but so many of them were really tiny.

I am not sure how many of them I lost that day, but each subsequent day brought the death of one more.

Today was the last one.  The largest of the survivors was curled up at the bottom of the cup this morning. He did not move when I tipped the container.  His lifeless body slide into yesterday’s corpse.

I am trying not to think about the fact that the precursors to my spirit animal have all died on my watch. I am really trying not to internalize what kind of a sign this may be from the Universe.  So this morning I went online and ordered another container of caterpillars to try again.

Perhaps it will go better this second time around…

black butterfly preaching on peach flower

Photo by FOX on


Single Mom Life: Making It Work

I am always told by people that they don’t know how I do it.  They are amazed by my ability to get it all done.

How am I able to balance my financial life, my work life, my family life, and my relationship?  How do I not become frozen by fear?  How do I beat back the overwhelming sense of inadequacy that I cannot get it all done? Here is my answer:

I truly believe that everything will get done.  I have complete faith that everything that needs to get done will. My faith resides in the Universe and myself.

I believe that the Universe times things divinely.  Everything is always happening at the moment it has to happen.  Believing this is true frees me from my own agenda.  I need only ask myself, “What has to get done right at this moment?”  It has never failed.  Each thing begins to line up, like tiny soldiers, and I pick them off in chronological succession.  It is not always neat and tidy.  It is not always the rate that I would like.  It is not always the first thing I would like to tackle, but it all gets done.

Being a single mom is tough.  There are only so many things that can help: Divine Intervention and Faith.

The next time things pile up and life gets overwhelming try and become settled enough to ask, “What has to get done right at this moment?” and feel the worry wash away as the answer arises.  Then do the right next thing to accomplish that task and move forward.

Single Mom Life: Brothers (A Family in 3 Parts)


Once upon a time

there were three Brothers…

A girl separated them

People would ask if the “only girl” was treated like a princess

and the family would snort and laugh 


the three Brothers the three Brothers the three Brothers

were so special

each unique in his own way

For the Father thought it so and so it was so

Until one day one of the Brothers left

off to California with a stripper named Diane

Then the next Brother left (for college…for work…forever)

The final Brother stayed

but things were not the same

For the Father was now ready to fly

So he did

The “only girl” (not the princess) just…

started over and 

lived Happily Ever After