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OPINION: Mom was right; a simple life can still be extraordinary

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Tara Jeffrey

When I offered to write a column in time for Mother’s Day, I had visions of an inspiring, uplifting piece about the joys of being a mom.

I figured I’d have more than enough material to work with — after all, I’m in the trenches with a five and three-year-old and nine-month-old.

I wrote half a dozen different drafts before realizing that I’m terribly unqualified to preach about motherhood; I don’t have any wisdom or sage advice. All I know is that being a mom is hard. And most days, I have no idea what I’m doing.

So instead, I’m going to write about elephants.

Bear with me here.

My mom has been collecting elephants for as long as I can remember. There’s glass, ceramic and wooden figurines scattered throughout her house, trunks pointed up for good luck.

Just the other day, I realized I had never bothered to ask about them.

Elephants, she explained, are among the most loyal, gentle animals in the world. They care for each other, mourn each other, and stick together for life.

Led by the matriarch, they are affectionate, nurturing, compassionate, and are known to show behaviours of empathy and grief.

I filed this under ‘things I’ve learned from my mom’ which is basically my survival guide for life. If I’m not sending her photo-texts asking, “is this a flower or a weed?” I’m probably calling for advice on the latest diaper rash or dinner recipe.

She’s taught me more than I could ever fit into a 400-word column, but most importantly, that a simple life can still be extraordinary.

My sisters and I never had the latest toys or gadgets growing up. We wore handmade clothes, walked to the library, played in the dirt and ate home-cooked meals from the garden.

There was nothing particularly extraordinary about our childhood, but we always felt like the luckiest kids in the world. I am trying to pass this on with my own kids. We take hikes, trips to the market, plant gardens and try new recipes. It’s all about finding joy in the little things.

My mom never missed a baseball game, track meet, or bedtime story. She stayed up late to help perfect every science project and speech. She was always just there.

And maybe that’s the most important part of this job.

They say the bond between a mother elephant and her calves is the closest of any animal on earth — particularly with her female children. Mom and daughter pairs stay close for life; and even if they’ve been separated their bond endures.

Maybe we should all be more like the elephants.

Happy Mother’s Day.


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