I am an Octopus. While it sounds like an odd choice for a spirit animal, I bet you’re an Octopus too. Most women can relate to the necessity of gliding through life, managing eight different things at a time. Sometimes that octopus looks majestic AF; rolling through with a baby in one arm, a laptop in another, holding the phone to its ear to deal with a minor crisis, whilst another arm is sweeping up Cheerios, one more cooking dinner, not forgetting to rub her spouse’s back and adjust her crown with the last two. It’s just the nature of being a mother.
Here’s the thing though; the octopus in me isn’t doing so well. My octopus is fumbling over the limbs and dragging its big bulbous head behind her, leaking ink all over the place. I’ve juggled life and managed the competing requests before. I’ve been the ringmaster of my own personal circus, but right now the carefully orchestrated acts are starting to fall apart. My spirit-octopus needs life support. How did this happen?
I’m in a new phase of life with more on my plate than ever; I have 4 daughters, a husband, maintain a full-time demanding career, bought a fixer-upper house, and now live in an area where I don’t have family or friends as a support system. I made all of these decisions and some days I wonder who’s crack pipe I was smoking when I thought this was all a great idea. I greatly underestimated how difficult life would become with 2 kids under 2 years old. Somehow, I believed that in the midst of our daily lives that we would also be able to remodel our entire house with our own two hands while raising these babies. To add a fun twist to it all, after the birth of my last baby, postpartum depression hit me like a ton of bricks and I am still trying to recover my lost self.
My poor octopus arms and legs are getting weak. They’re scrambling to hold all of the pieces together. I’m always dropping at least one ball lately and I am so hard on myself every time something hits the ground. I am sleep-deprived and stretched much too thin. How am I supposed to get out of this? I am not shamed to admit that in the midst of this I have found myself daydreaming of running away from everything. I built a mountain of responsibilities that I don’t know how to climb, but there’s one thing I know about that wrinkly sac of a being, our friend the octopus; IT’S A FRIGGIN SURVIVOR!
That thing can squish down and contort itself out through the tiniest of gaps. You can’t trap an octopus! I’d like to see you try. I challenge anyone to try to grab a live octopus and put it in a shopping bag. Forget it! I will squeeze and squish and grab your face with its suction cups, leaving you breathless and defeated. One thing I have learned in this life is to be flexible. I don’t know about you but most things in my life didn’t work out the way I planned, for better or for worse. I’ve been divorced. I’ve been broke. I’ve been depressed. I’ve been sick. I have adapted and triumphed. EVERY. DAMN. TIME.
Did you know that an octopus can regenerate lost limbs? Some of these legs gotta go! Instead of tripping over myself, getting tangled and face planting on the ground over and over, maybe I can sever a few to maintain the whole. Maybe I can regrow those legs when I am ready to pick those things back up. Maybe I’ll find I only need 4 legs and I’m jamming along better than ever. What do I HAVE to manage? What is excess that I just think I have to manage?
When I prioritize my life there are 5 main things that are important to me right now: my husband, my children, my career, myself, and my home. Those are my 5 legs right now. Maybe instead of an octopus, I’m a pentapus? If there are things in my life that don’t surround those categories, I will no longer devote a leg to it. I’m dropping extra obligations to responsibilities and events that don’t actually matter to me. I always think about the things I SHOULD do. I’m done should-ing all over the place and will make more thoughtful decisions about my time and efforts. I’m asking the tough questions about the necessity of everything I do in my life to make room for the important parts.
Maybe later I will grow back more legs. Maybe I won’t. Life is fleeting. I want to grab everything out of it that I can before the clock runs out, but the one thing I can’t get more of is time. If in twenty years I looked back at a montage of this period of my life, I don’t want to see myself beat up and dragging my 8 legs behind me. I don’t want to see myself scrambling and unhappy because even my 8 legs aren’t enough to hold everything that everyone else thinks I should be holding. I’d rather see a happy, well-adjusted 5 legged octopus rolling through… Majestic AF.