My little butterfly spread her wings the other night. Natalie participated in Harbor Creek High School's Ever So Lovely Pageant. It was a night intended to celebrate and showcase the beauty of girls with special needs. The girls were given an opportunity to shine. They donned beautiful gowns and were escorted by handsome high school boys across the stage to a cheering crowd. Each girl had the opportunity to stand alone in the spotlight showcasing a special talent or by sharing special knowledge of herself with the audience. There was singing and dancing and sharing by the girls which led to whoops and shouts and tears of joy among the spectators.
The panel of judges which was an array of teachers and the high school principal, declared all of the girls winners. Each girl received a sparkling tiara, a satin sash, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Natalie put her crown back on after we were home and she was changed into her pajamas. I've seen her walk into her room several times this weekend and trace her finger over the bumpy rhinestone hearts on her crown. The night mattered. Don't think for one second that she forgot about it because she doesn't have the ability to prattle on about it like other pre-teens do. I can tell by the sparkle in her eye and the shy half smile she gives me when I mention the night to her. Mother Eloise knows.
The song posted above is Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus singing Butterfly Fly Away. Play it through a couple of times and listen to the lyrics. It is about a little girl learning how to spread her wings and fly away. It was a perfect song choice for the night and more specifically for Natalie. She will turn thirteen this May and in many instances acts like a typical teenager. She gets moody, is harder to rouse in the morning, and is constantly into my make up. As much as I try to shelter her, she too is growing up and I know I must step back at times and let her figure things out for herself--like how to put on mascara without poking herself in the eye.
Of course this brings a LOST episode to mind. In season 1 there is an episode titled "The Moth." It is about Charlie Pace's battle with his drug addiction. Imagine crashing on an island with a heroin addiction, knowing that your stash went down with the plane. Charlie finds later that a drug runner's plane also went down on the island and it was discovered with a cockpit full of dead bodies, maggots, and Mary statues filled with heroin. John Lock talks to Charlie about his problem in my favorite John Lock sort of way. John uses stories to teach people things, almost like the parables of Jesus. John finds a cocoon hanging on a jungle leaf and points it out to Charlie. This is their conversation:
"What is in this cocoon, Charlie?"
"No. It is not a butterfly. It is a moth. It's ironic because butterflies get all the attention, but moths are stronger---faster. See that little hole?" (pointing to the little hole at the top of the cocoon)
"This moth is just about ready to emerge. It is in there struggling---dragging its way through its thick hide of the cocoon. I could help it---take my knife and gently widen the opening and the moth would be free--but it would be too weak to survive. Struggle is nature's way of strengthening things."
Raising Natalie has been kind of like that; a blend of helping and stepping back. Giving her the extra patience and support she needs, but knowing when to hold back and let her try on her own. The latter is the hardest part for me. Try wiping mascara of the face of a highly sensitive autistic kid. It isn't fun, but she's getting it. The ebb and flow of parenthood I assume.
Enjoy the photos and the song. When you are having a bad day and life seems difficult, remember the words from the writers of LOST: Struggle is nature's way of strengthening things. Natalie child, I decided you aren't a butterfly, you are one tough, strong moth. I am proud of you, sweetheart! Spread your wings and fly, but Mother Eloise will be close by with my bug net. No worries.