The Butterfly Castle; Where Rocks and Wings Reside
From Bows and Barefeet to Bills and A Little Boy
Before The Butterfly Castle…
My first memory after being adopted from Korea on our family farm begins on Christmas Day. I was two months from my 3rd birthday and only a few days new to Canada. In my pajamas I am quietly playing with a tea set sitting on a small table to the right of a large black organ. There is a lot of activity in the background and a room full of words that sound like noise. I am warm and content playing with tiny cups.
Since that first Christmas Day, there are reels of memories I have stored that include frogs and snakes, picking flowers, climbing trees and cliffs, exploring the beach, the kitchen with my mom, brothers bugging me, Mr. Dress Up, and thoughts of how much I loved my mom.
My mom probably never knew what to expect when I’d walk back into the house after playing outside, oftentimes blood, bruises, burs, bites, rashes, sand and mud, a jar of worms, an injured butterfly. It was rare to get a reaction out of my mom. Usually I was greeted with a smile and her sweet voice, maybe raised eyebrows oftentimes gently stripped of my dirty clothes as she returned to pies and potatoes. She was always working. She has always been the rock in my family, steady and calm. My mom taught me so many things that have become a part of me, most importantly unconditional love.
My dad is the genius and comic relief of my family. He had his flaws, which in my books outweighed his love. Some say people can’t change, but I’ve witnessed my dad transform over the years. So I’ll be one of those few who believe there is a cocoon of hope in all of us.
My favourite times were spent outdoors on our beloved farm, surrounded by open spaces, water and many forms of nature. Every square inch of the farm where I grew up holds a memory of adventure, solitude, discovery, and imagination. At this time of my childhood I recall loving and appreciating myself. My perspective about the world around me was full of love, wisdom, and clarity. In my bare feet and bows, I saw life in a magical way.
This existence of innocence is fragile. Before my 10th birthday life got complicated as it often does and I spent the next several chapters of my life trying to find that place I knew so well as a little girl. Part of my way of coping was to become a perfectionist. I have come to realize perfectionism is an addiction and not much fun. It is a tool to be used in order to avoid what seems too uncomfortable and too scary to face. It’s a way to control what seems manageable when other life events seem uncontrollable. Addiction creates a space.
When I thought some situation, conflict, confrontation, family gathering, loss, pain, boredom, disappointment, and heartbreak was too much to handle, I would turn to Perfection, something I could control. Traditionally people associate addiction with substances, but it’s been my discovery that a person can be addicted to anything. It’s so easy to forget how powerful we are. It became my journey to remember.
Then I had a child. There is no room for perfectionism when it comes to parenthood. Instead I decided to choose sanity and again search for self-love and awareness. Not a simple trip, but rather a fun and bumpy ride. Like the time I gave my son a very bad haircut, very bad…landing strip on the side of his head bad. It left us both in tears. His hair grew back, he didn’t stop loving me and to this day he still lets me cut it. We survived.
My son and I have survived harder times. I’ve been humbled by need; a week at a women’s shelter before my son’s first birthday, supplies from the Food Bank for a couple of months, being adopted anonymously by a family the first Christmas on our own. We slept in five different places in five months before we found a place to call home. It broke my heart some moments, but I realized as I looked at my son that he seemed ok.
I allowed myself to become unhinged occasionally with my son and it only made him more compassionate and sensitive. I still remember the first time he gently wiped away a tear one evening and asked, “Momma, are you crying?” He was only one. Tears say what is too difficult to put into words. Rain will loosen the ground when it has become too hard. Tears will do the same thing for a person.
Especially since my son has been born, after benefiting from charities, services, family, friends, and strangers, I have become profoundly thankful…for everything. I realize we are doing our best even when our best seems lousy. I appreciate every place, every person and every experience I have had. They can all teach us about ourselves if we’re open. Non-judgment and gratitude have been valuable tools in healing.
Often people believe that if you have children, you must love them more than yourself. You must put their needs above your own. I have come to understand that it is both. I have learned to be a much better parent to my son when I’m taking care of myself, my whole self. Exercising, eating consciously, sleep, adult friendships and solitude seem optional (sometimes impossible) and unconnected to successful parenthood, but they’re deeply woven.
Occasionally, it’s important to look to the past to appreciate the present. My son and I have traveled far to reach this place that is Today. I am proud of both of us. I try to be as open and honest with him as possible without burdening him. It is a fine balancing act. I have become a fine-tuned juggler of judgment.
I realize it is tempting for children to tell a lie to preserve a perception of perfection a parent might hold. It is also tempting to lie to a child in the name of protection or to preserve an illusion of perfection as a parent. This is why dropping the need for perfection is so important. I want my son to be real with me. I want to be real with myself. The idea of controlling something or someone is not real. It is an illusion.
It has been through my search for love and transformation that the story of The Butterfly Castle was born. These are the gifts I have wanted to give to my son. In some miraculous way, I was able to write a story that captured several universal themes which is why it is a story for anyone…everyone.
After three years on the shelf, I realized the messages within the pages of this story were too important not to share with others. Since self-publishing my book this summer, I have been blessed with stories from others about how this simple gift to my son has touched their lives. It is a story that takes me to a time from bare feet and bows to bills and a little boy and all the magical places in between.
Through loving my son, I am finding love for myself again. I am his rock. He is a butterfly. He is my rock. I am a butterfly. The Butterfly Castle is about believing, friendship, wisdom, transformation, miracles, peace, integrity, respect, and the kind of love that gives freedom not confinement, where rocks and wings are equally important.
I am of the Universe, but I also consider myself of this community in White Rock, B.C., as I am also part of the community in Chatham-Kent, Ontario where I grew up, where I still keep in touch with friends and my family. I believe in supporting local businesses and individuals. I will vote for my friends in a civic election (because I believe in what they represent), I will shop locally (because I believe in the people and the service and product), and I will buy quality over quantity.
It seems you pay more to buy locally and independently, but I believe you get what you pay for most of the time. It is difficult because we are taught to want more than we need. I’m trying to teach my son the values I learned from the rural community where I grew up, where neighbours helped you out of a ditch with their tractor, there is a church full of people showing their support when your oldest brother is killed in a car accident, prayers are said aloud during a church service for someone who is ill, people genuinely care.
I believe I am a baby in this community of White Rock, but already I have been greeted with support from strangers, love from new faces, and inspiration in the landscape. I have been drawn to the waters and the people of this small city. It is our home. Always, I am close to the neighbours, my friends and my family in Ontario as well. My heart resides in both places and if I had ashes to scatter, they would be spread over the waters of Semiahmoo Bay and Lake Erie, my two closest confidants over the years.
Over thirty-five years and what seems like lifetimes of memories later, I am looking forward to spending Christmas with my son with the people who have watched me grow, with my friends and familiar places and smells that will take me back to childhood. I have found that little girl I loved so much then. I am creating a woman I love so much today. I am imperfectly perfect.
I may not always be an author but I will always be a mom…and so much more. Please enjoy the story that was inspired by the love for my son and the love for myself.