I sat on a cardboard box in the middle of our new living room. Beside me was the portable crib my newborn daughter slept in. Her tiny mouth curled slightly to one side; she was in deep slumber. I sighed in relief, beckoning a feeling of satisfaction to mark this moment. But instead, a feeling of overwhelm took its place.
I scanned across the room at the sea of boxes that harbored all of our possessions- remnants of my old life. I wanted to be a ‘good mom’ and get some unpacking done while my daughter slept. Wasn’t that what all the ‘good moms’ did— work while their child slept? Wouldn’t that help me maximize bonding time with my daughter? I had to be more present with her today and less stressed, and that would help my milk supply- wouldn’t it?
My body ached and my head spun with self-judgement. I knew I had so much work to do, but what I truly wanted to do was curl into my bed and wake up when my husband got home. In that moment, a wave of reality settled in: I was a new mom. In a new house. In a new town. In the middle of nowhere, all alone. Sitting on a box containing the only passageway back to my old self.
And I panicked.
My secret had revealed itself: This was my new life, and I wasn't sure I wanted it. My secret rose from a place so deep, I barely recognized it was my own. This revelation took my breath away; leaving streams of tears in its place.
Through blurry-soaked eyes, an object in the flower garden caught my attention. Wiping a stream of tears away, I saw that it was a butterfly; it was so beautiful it looked as though it was from a different world. And there it was, in my garden. My elegant guest. I ran to grab my phone to take a picture, and as I returned, two more landed on the flowering purple bush.
When Isabella woke from her nap, I scooped her up and fled to the garden to count more. We counted 23 butterflies in the garden that day. And the next day we counted 33. That summer, as we nested into our new home and lives, I would stop and count butterflies along the way. On my hardest days, I would find moments of joy, sometimes fleeting seconds, counting butterflies in the garden- and these moments gave me hope.
I would like to say that my healing and growth during my emergence into motherhood simply came from counting butterflies that summer (there is something magical, and comforting, in the notion that growth can occur so simply). But my growth into the resilient wife, mother, and woman I am today also took courage, strength, and support. My resiliency has become my travel-companion along my life-long journey of growth... but to this day, I still stop and enjoy counting butterflies along the way.
Michelle Brans, MACP is a published Author, Teacher, and Child & Family Psychotherapist specializing in Motherhood and Holistic-Integrative Child and Family Mental Wellness. She is the Founder and Clinical Director of Counting Butterflies, which is guided by The Butterfly Prescription to Mental Wellness ® to nurture the transformation and resilience of children and families, by fostering a deep connection to ones' self, others, and the natural world around them. She holds a Masters in Counselling Psychology, and has received training and certifications in: Emotion-Focused Couples & Family Therapy; Mindfulness & Compassion-Based Therapy; Marriage, Family, and Cultural Systems; Attachment & Developmental-Based Care; Holistic-Integrative Wellness; Ecopsychology and Nature-Guided Therapy; and Women's Wellness. She lives with her husband, daughter, and animal-family on their ever growing Green-Care Farm & Homestead in rural Ontario, Canada. Visit her and her team at countingbutterflies.com.
Michelle and her team are honored to have partnered with The WOMB to offer Therapy & Support for new Mothers on their journey towards wellness through the Wellmama Home Session Program. We are currently working on an exciting Online Parent Education & Therapeutic Group for Emerging Motherhood.