Eight years ago I felt like an octopus. An octopus with a mom cut. One tentacle permanently affixed to sippy cups, the second reached for a clean diaper, the third nabbed a kid mid-air before falling on his head (always on the head).
My fourth tentacle Heimlich’ed tortilla chips or sushi rolls out of esophogi, had the mess cleared the bill paid and the family gone from any establishment within three minutes. My fifth tentacle precision-paused the VCR (VCR!) the exact moment on the Healthy Food video when Muppet fruit faces popped open their eyes, giving my toddler–who demanded to watch said video on repeat regardless of abject terror–time to run and hide behind the kitchen island.
A sixth tentacle changed crib sheets and scraped dried up forgotten cat puke found by lucky playdate guests. The seventh sprayed the bathroom ceaselessly in a futile effort against toilet misses and, really, the entire phase of life. My last slippery tentacle feebly clutched the landline and/or a beer, while venting to my mom or girlfriend and waiting for my husband to return from his travels. On the occasion my tentacles had 17 minutes to themselves, they ranted here. They reached out. They found YOU.
Next came somewhat of a reprieve known as parenting grade school kids. Husband traveled less or not at all, and some of the tentacles got to rest some of the time–even relaxing into date nights and girls’ nights and exercise. An iPad replaced the TV. A Wii replaced the VCR. We began watching tolerable PG movies for movie night. I got to pick out clothes for the boys–fancy formal wear like jeans–and they consented to wear them instead of say, track pants. Husband and I took our first vacation in a decade, with only our own tentacles and whatever we chose to do with them. The kids still hurt their heads, the cats died. Blissfully, the Heimlich disappeared from the regular rotation.
And now? Well holy logistical hell basket we have an almost tween and an almost teen and my tentacles are spinning in a pencil-top fury. The first tentacle nearly always grips my iPhone WHEN I CAN PRY IT FROM POKE-HANDS as I try to manage the constant onslaught of texts and emails and notifications with actually living a life, looking into alive faces and finishing one complete thought/putting that important thing I can’t forget on the calendar before PING BUZZ MOM PULL OVER THERE’S A PIKACHU. The second tentacle pops the car in reverse only to put it back in the garage to make sure the karate gear or soccer balls made it into my trunk from Husband’s car before he left town, and that I have whatever dish I promised to pass. My third tentacle tries 13 different passwords for 13 different team sign-ins and doctor charts and school communications apps, while the forth auto-ejects across the room to close the fridge doors because WE AREN’T EVEN FINISHED WITH DINNER YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY NEED A SNACK, AND DO NOT ASK ME FOR DESSERT BEFORE I EVEN SIT DOWN TO EAT EVEN IF YOU ARE HOSING THOSE GREEN BEANS LIKE A CHAMP.
The fifth tentacle is making sure we have clean soccer socks even though the kids now “do” their own “laundry,” while the sixth tentacle occasionally remembers to scan search histories and bust a child for playing Xbox with people he doesn’t know on Yom Kippur whom he calls “friends in Arizona” because IT’S 9 AM ON A WEDNESDAY AND IF THOSE “FRIENDS IN ARIZONA” WERE MINORS THEY WOULD BE IN SCHOOL IN ARIZONA RIGHT NOW omg.
The sixth tentacle plans a Bar Mitzvah for Mr. Bowl Cut Board Book pictured above, while the seventh is producing events scheduled through May 2017 featuring hundreds and hundreds of tentacles from eight years online and trying to support my community while I binge online TV series self-help books sugar and infuriating election news. Warning: election news may cause manic mutant recessive additional tentacles to spawn.
My eighth weary protuberance splits time holding my brain in my head and my hand on my heart– fending off desperate requests for a kitten (of course I TOO WANT A KITTEN but not as much as I DON’T WANT A KITTEN) reading aloud to Nine (that baby in bibs with feet now bigger than mine), and savoring the occasional sound of Twelve’s Torah portion chanting, landing me every time in a sublime and super specific awareness of now. That and clods of dirt and grass from soccer cleats all over the floor. Better than cat puke, any day.
Here’s what I know. On the my life is hard spectrum, mine falls in the fully-resourced not hard at all quadrant. These are the tentacles of a full life surrounded by love and plenty. This busyness of raising healthy future adults and nurturing my relationships while honoring my own ambitions may leave me looking discombobulated and feeling overwhelmed at times, but it’s also the antidote to the loneliness and disconnect that plagues so many. Thank you for sharing the last eight years with me and taking the time to wrap your own tentacles around me, my family, and my words.
ICYMI, I made this video announcement for Listen To Your Mother’s grand finale 33-city season. Makes me pretty darn proud. Hope you like it (click here if you don’t see the image).