Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The lizard is molting.
A face only a mother could love

She molts every two weeks. No one told me this ahead of time. No one informed me that one of the members of my household would audibly eat her skin twice a month. I can hear her right now, carefully peeling and munching her skin.

My jBird will come home from school and drop everything and go and fuss over her and ask to give her a warm sponge bath to help her get the tricky bits off without losing a toe. I will probably agree to this, depending on what I've had for lunch.

A few weeks ago, my daughter handed me a wad of disembodied skin.
"Can you throw this away for me?"
Does it go in the compost? The trash? Recycling? Why am I holding a wad of skin?! What am I supposed to do with this?!
I can barely look at her and I've turned up the music so I can't hear the tiny ripping sounds. It's off-putting and revolting and just so very biological.

"It's good, Mom. It means she's growing." My daughter is exasperated with my squeamishness.

My whole world is molting. So is yours, actually. Our society is in the throes of growth. Humanity itself is always in some way, somewhere, morphing and changing and growing into something else. Maybe it's a friend of yours, a family member, a neighbor, a child. Maybe it's your school or your church.

Maybe it's yourself.

The skin that fit our lives just fine last week or even yesterday is suddenly a little too tight and uncomfortable. The new skin starts to peek out from underneath and that old, dead skin starts to flake and peel. It's not a pretty process. Most of the time, no one wants to hear about it. It's hard to watch. It's off-putting and it seems kind of private and wrong. So maybe we go and hide in our little hidey hole and rip and munch. Maybe we go and do the best we can to quietly tear up the bits of us that no longer fit and internalize them while people around us shudder and try not to look.

Maybe, though, someone sees us - really sees us. Maybe someone sees that we've got horrible flappy bits hanging in front of our eyes and doesn't want us to go blind. Maybe someone sees that we're tripping around over the parts we can't reach on our feet and wants us to be able to walk uninjured. Maybe someone drops everything that is important to them and spends time gently helping us through the transition, even when we're scared and we protest and try to get away.

I asked my daughter what leopard geckos do in the wild when they molt. "They don't have people to give them sponge baths," I told her sagely, "It's a natural process. You should just leave her to it."
"Well in the wild, Mom, they just take care of themselves. They are often deformed or blind or they just die. But she's not in the wild. She's mine."

We're not in the wild. No one should have to live in the wild. No one should have to grow with no one there to help. How many of our own to we just "leave to it" because we can't bear to think about it? How many who walk among us end up needlessly hurting and broken or dead because we were put off by the processes of their lives? There are a lot of people molting out there. They are not in the wild. They are mine. They are yours. We belong to each other. We have to. Even when it's revolting.

When all this disgusting skin-eating is over, Jubilee will have fresh, unblemished, new skin. Her colors will be bright and vibrant. She'll be frisky and alert and out standing in her water dish instead of lurking in her dark little hidey hole, suspicious and snappish. She will smile her silly little perma-grin and beg for crickets. She will, in her own little lizardy way, be beautiful.

Look around. Somebody is molting near you. Near me. How can we help them get through the tricky bits? What is underneath the off-putting outer layer of difficult change? How can you help them find their beautiful? And know this: it will probably turn your stomach a little bit, it will not be what you wanted to do most today, you will think didn't we just do this? and we did, it's time to do it again. And someone will hand you a wad of something you don't want to hold. Stare at it in fascination and then get rid of it. It's not yours to keep.

And look around and do it again.
And again.
And again.
And again...

This is the way that we all become beautiful.

*I'm not going to give the lizard a sponge bath. I will continue to turn up the music so that I can't hear her eating her own skin. I have my limits. 


  1. I've gone through times in my life where I quite literally felt something interior breaking apart and putting itself together again. And like you say, I know that on the outside I was edgy and a bit awkward and unsettled during the process. But it was worth it. How good to remember why this strangeness might crop up in those around us.

  2. When I've dealt with a particularly sandpapery individual, I remind myself I do not know what is going on in their life. There is a reason they snapped at me over the phone or gave me the stink eye for crossing the street....On my own stink eye days, I know I need kindness, so I try to give it every day I can. Love this post!

  3. As someone who spends her days surrounded by broken boys masquerading as men of all ages from so many walks of life, I have to say this speaks to me in so very many ways. And that is to say nothing of all the molting going on around me in my personal life, or, you know, in the mirror. :)


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