For a long time, I've looked to elephants for mothering inspiration. Laugh all you want, but I think there's a lot humans can learn from these amazing creatures. There's also a lot we already have in common. So, what are the signs that you're an elephant mom? Sign number one: if you're open-minded enough to consider the possibility that being similar to a 6.5 ton land-beast with a weird-ass nose and big ears is a good thing, you're off to a good start.
I can tell you exactly when elephants became my favorite animal. I was a teenager and happened to catch a nature documentary called Echo: An Elephant To Remember. The bit I caught depicted "Echo," and her daughter "Enid" caring for Echo's calf, "Ely." Ely was born, essentially, with a club foot and walked, slowly and painfully, on his front knees. The rest of the herd rallied around Ely but, eventually, had to move on in order to survive. "Echo" and "Enid," however, took extra time with the baby to try to help him learn how to walk. They coaxed him along, massaged his lags and feet with their trunks, and, in a few days, Ely was keeping up and playing with the rest of the herd.
It was about this time when I started sobbing buckets of inspired, over-sentimental tears and vowed to become more like an elephant. I wanted to be someone who was willing to show love and tenderness even in the most dire of situations; someone who recognized that everybody has value; someone who was prepared to take extra time to help others reach their fullest potential. One can, indeed, become an elephant mom through effort and intention, but other aspects are innate qualities that some just natural posses and exude, including the following:
Other Moms Come To You For Advice
Maybe it's because you were the first among your friends to have children. Maybe it's because you have lots of kids. Maybe it's because you've always been "the mom friend" of your group. Maybe it's because you're just so damn approachable. Whatever the reason, other people look to you for advice, a shoulder to cry on, and reassurance... and you are more than happy to provide any or all of those things and then follow up with a text saying something like, "Hey! Just checking in. I hope things are better today!"
Your Home Is The Default Gathering Place
Your door is always open and your kettle is always on. Children run wild through your yard and/or living room. Friends gather around your kitchen table with babies on their knees nibbling cookies and shouting, "Hey! You be careful with [insert your name here] things!" as you wave them away and say, "All the nice stuff was broken by my little monster babies years ago."
Your house is cozy, inviting, and obviously where everyone is going to hang out.
You Have A Strong Sense Of Community
You want to build a strong community and you know that doing so will take as many hands, voices, and trunks (metaphorical trunks, of course, as you don't have an actual trunk... yet) as possible. Elephant moms, therefore, seek to do what they can to improve their community, starting with themselves and their nuclear family and moving outward from there. Moreover, they want to empower others to contribute to the good of the group, too, and do what they can to enlist others to build up a solid group that will benefit as many people as possible.
You Don't Always Stress The Details
Elephants can't sweat details because, well, they're massive and they trample things. Oh sure, they are capable of finesse with their impressive proboscises, but when it comes to a lot of things they just sort of amble along and get their stuff done. So home might be a bit messy and your kids socks might not match and, yes, you definitely have a not-so-secret love affair with yoga pants, but these are details. You've got your sh*t locked down where it counts.
You Will Nurture Any Baby That Comes Your Way
Elephant moms will offer to hold the hand of a toddler of a mom struggling with an infant in a clunky carrier in the parking lot. She will stay with a little one napping in a car so another parent can pick up their child from preschool without interrupting said nap. If a kid needs help on the playground she will be more than willing to push them on a swing or help them down from a ladder when they realize they have climbed higher than they are comfortable. She will babysit on a moment's notice.
Elephant moms don't reserve their maternal instincts for their own offspring: they share it with the world. Parents and children alike respond to that, feed into that, and the urge only grows stronger.
You Believe In Women Helping Women
Elephant herds (largely) consist of groups of females and calves. While the generally operate under the auspices of a ranking matriarch, they all work together to raise the babies, find food and water, and keep predators at bay. Older females will help the younger ones learn throughout their lives, passing their knowledge on for subsequent generations. Elephants know they're stronger together and that there's power in sisterhood, and so do you.
You're Fierce When You Have To Be
Elephants are herbivores who largely just want to chill and be left alone... but come at them and they will crush you. Like, literally crush you. While you, a human and not a 13,000 pound elephant, will not actually stampede and trample your enemies, you are without-a-doubt a force to be reckoned with. Fortunately, all the other jungle creatures seem to know that and usually don't mess with you.
You're Always Mindful Of "Your Herd"
This goes beyond just being community-minded and takes a longer-view of the world. In a sense, elephant moms see the entire world as a big herd and she wants what is best for them. So when they're at a PTA meeting, they're not just thinking about how a proposed policy will affect their child, but everyone's child, including and especially the children of parents who (for any number of reasons) cannot regularly attend PTA meetings. They become interested in politics not just when legislation has an effect on her family, but on anyone's family.
You Have Fathomless Stores Of Compassion & Patience
Unlike many other animals in nature, elephants will attend their sick and infirm, even if it means losing time on a migration during dry season, or going another day without enough food. As community and group-minded as they are, they know that the community is strongest when all its members are given the opportunity to be at their best. Elephants recognize that an investment in an individual is, very often, an investment in the community.
You Might Be Into Attachment Parenting
While grown elephants don't hold one another's tails as they walk in single file, baby elephants have been known to hold on to mama's tail. You guys, how damn cute is that?! It's sort of like the baby elephant version of a sling or something!
You're Quick On Your Feet & A Good Problem Solver
It ain't easy out there for an elephant mom. Like, a real elephant mom, as in one who is actually an elephant. Nature is full of dangers (none more horrifying or troubling than poachers) and they have to be able to organize and act in moments of crisis... and they do. They may not be big into details, but they can rally together at a moments notice to protect themselves and their young. They can seamlessly work together using their natural intelligence, close-knit bonds, and remarkable communication skills. In short, they know how to get sh*t done.
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