The MOTH in Motherhood

I never imagined the lesson moths could teach me about motherhood.

Shortly after I started dating my future husband, he surprised me one day by exclaiming, “Man, moths get a bad rap. Everyone loves butterflies, but moths are way cooler.” He proceeded to expound on how moths are so chubby and fuzzy—unlike scrawny, stick-like butterflies—and how they’re more aerodynamic and have more intricate shapes, patterns, and colors. Not to mention random cool facts like how bagworm moths can build little log cabins . . .

I thought, “Wow. This man has a rare eye for beauty . . . which is consistent with how he notices things others miss and has compassion for those whom others dismiss, as demonstrated by his taste in music and by his desire to serve people with disabilities.” He certainly taught me an important lesson about embracing diversity.

Months later, as we prepared for our wedding, I searched for decorative moth accents and moth jewelry that I could include on my dress or bouquet (as a fun way to surprise and honor my husband). I quickly became frustrated in my search because of the limited options. Clearly the market was dominated by butterflies. The few moth options I found were not the right size, shape, or color. Meanwhile, the butterfly options were endless. So I decided to settle for butterflies on my dress and just pretend they were moths. When I explained my dilemma to my husband, he took the time to make moths out of origami to decorate my bouquet. Thanks to his love and creativity, my moth dream wasn’t completely hijacked by butterflies after all.

My butterfly veil and brooch, and my moth bouquet.

My husband once joked to me, “You know that verse in Matthew 6 that says, ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt’? Well, if moths are my treasure, am I good?” The verse that he cited explains in part why moths are underappreciated. For most people, moths are associated with decay and corruption, and that association biases people to perceive a moth’s beauty as ugliness, simply because of their label. Moths also tend to be more active at night, so they’re not as easily noticed.

One day it occurred to me that “mother” has the word “moth” in it. If I didn’t know better, I might think “mother” means someone who raises moths.

Well, in a sense, I am raising a moth. (And not just because my son eats like a caterpillar.) Throughout my son’s life, the world will try to tell him that he has to be a butterfly—that he has to behave and act in a certain way and fit certain labels. And everyone who encounters my son will have their own set of preconceived biases causing them to underestimate his value.

But as a mother, I am blessed with eyes to see my child’s true beauty and value, and by teaching my child his true identify—as a child of God—then he can have the ability to fly in both brightest day and darkest night, thriving in both times of prosperity and times of trial.

And just as my husband used his creativity to make a place for real moths at our wedding, I can teach my children to use their creativity to be themselves and to find their own place, rather than pretending to be something they’re not (even if that means sacrificing popularity).

And just as I shouldn’t treasure what “moth doth corrupt,” I also shouldn’t treasure any material objects that my children can break or destroy. Rather, I should remember that my children themselves are my treasures.

My sister-in-law gave this home-made caterpillar toy to my son for his first birthday, little knowing what a meaningful reminder it serves for our family.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Laura Madsen says:

    Daughter,
    I love how motherhood is opening your eyes to a whole new world of wonder. It is a glorious thing to be a mother and to nurture a child. You begin to realize your infinite capacity to change the world by loving and caring for your children. And in the process, YOU are the one who changes the most. Thank you for being a wonderful daughter, and for teaching me so much about life. I love you!

Leave a Reply to Laura Madsen Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.