Elephant or Gazelle? My Messy, Beautiful

Grant's Gazelle in Tsavo east National Park Kenya

“I am a complete elephant when it comes to social media,” I say to my husband this morning,  “and I really want to be a gazelle.”

Bam.  You know when you say words and you can almost SEE and FEEL them as they swirl around you?   You know these words will have major import and lasting impact. You just don’t know how yet.

Bam. Elephant – stomp, stomp, stomp…plod, plod, plod, versus a gazelle – fleeing gracefully to and fro, light of foot & fast of movement– so graceful and elegant.

I believe the last time I felt graceful was before I had children. Think about it.  Being single, dating, meeting someone special, getting engaged, having a wedding  – each of these things allows a lot of room for elegance and grace.

On the other hand, getting pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth, going without sleep for weeks on end, getting peed on, spat upon, thrown up on and generally living an unkempt life for months does not.

Yet, as the children grow, there is room for grace.  There are moments when everyone is doing well, life is cruising along and you think, “Okay, I got this.”

Then, bam – of course you do not.

Someone is home sick with the flu, another is crying as something hurtful happened at school, your husband or partner is missing that flight and won’t be home anytime soon, a loved one is ill, an aging parent needs help, a friend is in need, etc, etc.

Stomp, stomp…plod, plod.

Family life is like an elephant, not a gazelle.  Family life stomps and stomps, smashing everything in its path – even you as the mother, especially you as the mother.

But, I rail against it.  I rail against the stomping and plodding. I want to be a gazelle sometimes.  I want to have moments where I get to spring lightly and gracefully, frolicking to and fro.  This has to be possible.  There has to be space in family life for a mother to be the gazelle for a few moments at least.  Not all of the time, of course, but a few moments.

So, what do I do?  I reinvent myself.  I figure I can have moments of grace and frolicking if I carve out a purposeful life for myself.  Just for me. As family life smashes and plods around me, I will have this space. I will have this place where I am graceful and light of foot.

So, I reach down to the depths of my soul and realize that although I am a successful business strategist, this is not where my heart lies.  This is not where I will get to be a gazelle.  I am passionate about children and living the very best family life.  By pursuing this, I should have more moments of being the gazelle as it’s aligned with daily life, right?  The alignment of writing, speaking and teaching what I am living everyday has to afford more moments of grace and of gazelle-like frolicking.

But, with this statement this morning, what have I just discovered instead?  I discover that perhaps I am the elephant.  Perhaps I am the one stomping and plodding around as I have reinvented myself again, this time into a children’s book author, and I am stomping and plodding around trying unsuccessfully to navigate social media.

I am the social media elephant who cannot seem to navigate Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the rest.

The one who is posting on Facebook as one name and thinks it’s another, so the post completely disappears.

The one who joins Twitter and tweets that it should really be chirping as I all hear are crickets as I have one follower – me. (Now, thankfully, four- thanks Anastasia, Kathy & Mom!)

The one who cannot even see the screen anymore without glasses and whose fingers are too stiff to actually type on an iPhone.

The one who will post this on my messy, beautiful warrior project and who knows what will happen?

Perhaps, I am the one who rails against the flow that would come with grace and ease.  Perhaps the social media elephant is, in fact, just an elephant all around.

Perhaps, I am the elephant, not family life, ME.

When I think about the last few weeks, I can really see this to be true.  I can think of plenty of elephant moments.

The moment when my son complained about hurting his hand in gym at school & I said, “Oh, you’re fine.” Then, upon the recommendation of the school nurse a few days later, off to the emergency room we go to get a cast for his broken hand. Stomp.

The moment when my daughter entered my bedroom the other day, her birthday & day of a big play, saying she felt sick and promptly started throwing up.  I chalked it up to anxiety and almost, almost had her going to school that day.  The only thing that saved her was the fact that it was her birthday.  (As I called the school, I found out that several of the children were out sick and a virus proceeded to run rampant throughout the school over the next week.) Stomp.

The moment as I am writing this that I remember it’s my nephew’s birthday tomorrow and scramble to the mailbox with his card and gift. It will be late. Plod.

The moment last night that I was just overcome by who knows what & proceeded to chomp down handfuls of Cheez-Its.  I am gluten free (or now I can only say gluten intolerant.) Smash.

So, I am the elephant, not family life.  ME.

Well, that’s just a kick in the pants -just a HUGE KICK IN THE PANTS and so, so messy.

Yet the purpose of this post is messy AND beautiful.

ElephantSo, now what, what is beautiful about this?  Well, let’s look closer at being a gazelle versus being an elephant.  Perhaps being a gazelle is not all that it’s cracked up to be.  Perhaps my reaching for gazelle-like status is not even something I should be aspiring to at this point in my life.   Perhaps being an elephant is really great.

A gazelle has to run away from lots of different predators and cannot stay in one place for very long.  An elephant, on the other hand, is large and in charge.  A gazelle travels in packs and does not differentiate from each other in order to survive.  An elephant travels in herds of families, is extremely intelligent and has an excellent memory.  Additionally, elephants can communicate with each other over long distances.

Well, perhaps being an elephant is not so bad.  Perhaps it is just right for me.

So, now off I go…Stomp. Stomp. Plod. Plod.

Wow, the view really is great from up here.

Thanks, my messy, beautiful!


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!