The morning was spent in the thick of trees whose names we did not know. Overhead, sun spilled in the greenhouse feeding our bodies and the plants around us. It was one week before the butterfly exhibit was due to open at Fredrick Meijer Gardens, but already butterflies waltzed between us and the exotic plants, their wings revolving in a rhythmic harmony we could not turn our eyes from.
Momentarily, Sean held June, balancing her chubby arm still in front of her body like the branch of a great tree, wishing that a butterfly might land there. But quickly, she grew annoyed– she was no tree. Squirming, she begged with all her might to regain the freedom of her own feet again. Magic was spreading out wildly before her in this new world and she needed to be a part of it, she needed to explore.
Our little girl circled the greenhouse more times than we could count, swinging her arms in authority, never once looking back to gain our permission. Good luck with that one, a father joked as we passed him, trying to keep pace with the pigtailed toddler. “Thanks,” we smiled, but really I was thinking, we need it! Lately, parenting has taken on its own set of challenges: spirited independence juxtaposed with an insatiable demand for “mama, mama, mama”. But just as the brochure advertises dates for the famous butterfly exhibit, I realize that this phase in development is short, fleeting. The reality is that June will not always be so unencumbered by the world, so for now, we must embrace it, challenges and all.
Reluctantly, we left the greenhouse in the afternoon. Our bodies instantly aching again for its warmth. It was almost like Florida, but all too temporary. We promised June and each other that we would return again, then put on our heavy jackets and returned to the reality of the cold Sunday in Michigan.