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Glimpses of an Elephant

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By Kimara - Posted on 02 February 2009

There is an old Indian parable about 5 blind men and an elephant. The story goes that each man got to touch only one part of the animal. One man felt his tusk, one his trunk, one an ear, one his side, and one unfortunate soul, his tail. They were then brought together to give their interpretation of the elephant. As you can well imagine, their perceptions were drastically different. As in all parables, the purpose of the story was didactic…to teach the listeners a lesson. And what lesson can we surmise? I think there is a twofold message in this tale. First, each person comes to a situation from a different perspective. For that reason, we should be tolerant and respectful when other people’s values and insights differ from those of our own. And the second, we need to be careful when we try to assess a situation. Frequently, we are not given the complete picture…only snippets…which can lead from slightly to radically skewed assessments of the truth. Our news media is often guilty of this, sharing bits and pieces of a reality to provide a picture that they wish to convey. To get an accurate picture it is always a good idea to gather information from a variety of sources before forming our own opinions.

This certainly is one of my concerns with the internet, blogging in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging world. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be a part of it. But there is a phenomena that I have observed that has given me cause for concern, and that is our propensity to bestow godlike qualities on some of the authors. And this really becomes problematic when we hold ourselves up juxtaposition to these demigods, and we compare our situation to theirs.

Young mothers, often functioning with sleep deprivation and low self-esteem (did I ever really fit in a size 6 and when is the last time I could actually see the wall-to-wall carpeting in the family room), are very susceptible to this behavior. Moms looking for insight and suggestions or just 15 leisurely minutes to themselves, surf the net and stumble open blogs being written by Mount Olympia moms. These women can do everything! They grow organic veggies, make 3 nutritious and preservative free meals a day, home school their brood, make all their children’s clothes and have abodes right out of House Beautiful. There are idyllic pics of their offspring running barefoot through sun dappled meadows, with heads thrown back in pure glee. Oh, and their husbands…their husbands are their own private cheerleading squad, praising their accomplishments, and orchestrating romantic outings. And if all of this wasn’t enough to fill a 48 hour day, they find the time, each and every day, to document their lives on camera, and write enthralling blogs that chronicle their Utopian existence.

So why do so many young mothers flock to these sites? Logically, it would seem that only slightly masochistic women would subject their egos to this type of scrutiny!  I’ve decided, when it comes right down to it, these blogs are so popular because they have become our modern day Harlequin Romances. Their blogs are a fantasy. In the back of our minds I think most of us know things can’t be as perfect as it seems, but it’s nice to dream!

Believe me, I don’t think any of these women that write these blogs are being deceitful, but they are only showing you part of the elephant. Just remember, all elephants have a butt! These women get yeast infections and lose their tempers, their children have meltdowns in the grocery store checkout line and flush wooden toys down the toilet, their mother-in-laws chide them for their childrearing practices and untidy houses, and their husbands need to work late and occasionally forget an anniversary! Their lives are not perfect. The internet is, after all, a parody of the real world, not a world in and of itself. All writers give you a glimpse of an elephant, not a photo of the whole beast. Trust me, where there’s a head, there’s a tail!

I totally agree with everything you write here. We learn to understand others if we try to put ourselves in their own shoes. - GE Pro Elite

I shouldn't write when I'm in a hurry! Should read "BTW after the hormones settled down, I'm NOW able to go back to some of those other sites. OOPS!

Last year when I was having so much trouble with getting my kindergartener off in the morning, plus being sleep deprived AND still nursing my youngest, I started reading blogs. There were a couple written by the super moms, and all it did was make me feel awful. DH was about to take the computer away from me!

I loved it when I found your blog. Although you're not a parenting blog as such, your wit and understand, and no nonsense way of approaching things had a tremendous impact of me. It isn't like you give advice on diapers or chicken pox, but rather you're inspirational in a different way. You are always saying things aren't perfect, you'll get through it, so, well smile!

BTW after the hormones settled down, I'm not able to go back to some of those other sites and like you Michelle, I find them inspirational. But when I make a comment outloud like, oh, look how lovely that looks, my DH always says, "Pan to the right, Sarah". Goes with what you said, Kim. Altough I'm sure these are great moms and people, they aren't perfect and I can now look and read without crying ;)

Haven't said it for a while, thanks for your blog, Kim. You always make me smile, give me something to think about and I tell DH "I want to be like her when I grow up!" ;)

Have a great week all!

Ha - my hubby and I had a nice laugh last week when someone posted a comment on my blog. It was after we did a big messy art project and the reader was giving me kudos for doing such a messy project in my very clean house. LOL, my house very clean?! Ummm yes, I am guilty of creative cropping.

I do enjoy a few of those "fantasy blogs" myself. I take them as inspirational... but do understand them to be a bit of that "movie magic" family life.