My Son Used to Be a Caterpillar

My Son Used to Be a Caterpillar

Alfie came home from school the other day and joined me on the sofa where I was feeding Miss Olive. Unusually for him, he wanted to talk about his day without my asking.

Apparently they had been looking at caterpillars at school. There had been furry ones in the garden and one had stuck to his friend's jumper and the teacher had had to put it outside.

Now if you think this is a post espousing the value of listening to the detail of your children's lives, it's not. This is a post about how frickin weird life is with children because what Alfie said next completely twisted my melon.

He looked at me, weighing up how I might react and said:

"I remember a long time ago when I was a caterpillar"


When I Was a Caterpillar: A Brush with Past Lives
Credit: electronicxx.

My brain took that statements and went in fifteen different directions, none of them forward because I'm that parent. I'm the parent who wants to believe, to validate, to indulge even, but right there sitting on that sofa I couldn't think of a damn thing to say.

How do you validate the life of a grub, for heaven's sake? It's not like you can engage in a conversation about life experience: They eat, they pupate, they fly. Finis.

But now I'm painfully aware that I've already been quiet for far too long and there are two eyes watching my every facial tick.


Nice non committal opener, asshole.

"Umm, so do you mean you were playing at being caterpillars or that you actually used to be a caterpillar?"

"No mama I was a caterpillar. And I ate lots of leaves and then I went away and when I came back I was a butterfly and I flew up and up and up"

So right here is where I set out my stall and say that I believe in past lives. I have even had my past lives read before and it brought me a lot of calm when I was struggling with some can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it feelings. I have long dreamed of being able to ask my children about lives beyond this one and have often asked them if they remember before they were born.

I say all of this by way of qualifying what a bittersweet moment this was for me.

Half my brain is shouting, "PRAISE BE!! AN ACTUAL PAST LIFE CONVERSATION!!!!" while the other half is still stuck on, "What the HELL do you talk about in the life of an insect?!?"

So I asked the only question my brain could form at that given moment:

"So what did you enjoy more, being a caterpillar or being a butterfly?"

And yes, I heard how stupid that question sounded, so when Alfie gave me a withering look and replied in a voice that said this was the single stupidest question he had ever answered, I wasn't surprised.

"A butterfly mama. Because then I could fly"

And just like that, he got up and ran off to play leaving me wondering, and not for the first time, what the hell had just happened.


​Mum, activist and parenting junkie. Passionate about empowering women and living a good life with my family.

Related Posts

5 Parenting Rules I Have Already Broken

Isn’t amazing how many things you tell yourself you won’t do when you become a parent? I often made notes of other parents around me doing some pretty crazy things to get their kids to behave or how they raised their children. I sat in judgement saying, “That may work for them, but I would NEVER do that.” First of all, shame on me for judging anyone! Especially other parents before I became one myself. My childless-self had no idea what was in store for me or the lengths I would go to once I became “Mom.”   Read more >

How to Suffer Less

The other night my friend and I went to see a show. It was very crowded in the theater, so when the show was over it took a long time to exit.   My friend started to get very uptight about people not walking more quickly and was really bothered. For my part, I really didn’t think much of it. We were talking about the show as we were shuffling out, and I accepted the slow pace as part of what happens when you go to the theater. Part of my mind detached and looked at the situation.   Read more >

Butterfly Mothering

I don't think I had ever made the comparison of our children growing up and changing to that complete metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. But it's true: When our children grow out of one phase, they will never be there again. This bit-of-a-tear-jerker post from Jenna at Cranberry Corner is a tribute to that permanent change.   Read more >

Recent Posts by Maybe Diaries


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.