Be an Octopus

Five years and 2 children ago, I found out my then 5 year old wanted me to be an octopus. Here’s her story.

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Be an Octopus

“I wish you were an octopus.”

Turning from the kitchen sink full of hot, soapy water and a pile of dirty dishes, with one eyebrow raised in “did I hear that right” curiosity, I smiled at my creative five year old — who finally held my full attention — and replied, “What?!?”

“An octopus can do anything.”

“It can swim.”

“And its articles (her words, not mine) can reach clear across the room.”

“I wish you were an octopus, mom.”

(frustrated five year old girl exits.)  (befuddled mother — what was it that she wanted me to do in the first place?  get her a drink? — wipes dish suds off of her hands and leaves the kitchen to give attention where needed.)

Why is it that in the busyness of the day I am sometimes reluctant to acknowledge the needs and desires of my children?  It is too tempting for me to get one more thing done.  One minute, please (for the forty-fifth time).  Hang on a second (while I check my email)… let me finish this (latest revision of a blog post)… I need to take care of this (laundry) first…

It was another wake up call for me.  My daughter would like to handle the situation by adding six “articles” to my body!  She’s a problem solver, that one.  Point taken.  I need to care for her first.  For all three of my children, first.

I’m not advocating that you entertain your kid’s every whim (really, because that does NOT work for me), but before it gets to the point where your children want to turn you into an eight-legged sea creature, make yourself available. (preaching to myself here)  Give the computer a rest.  Let the dishes soak.  Wrinkled laundry never hurt anyone.  The children are growing… fast!


Speaking of fast… fast forward five years, two children, and a lot more responsibilities. I still haven’t grown any articles 😉 , and I’m still not an octopus. The juggling act hasn’t gotten any easier, but my children are older and wiser, and they know when mom is paying attention and when she isn’t. Adapt and overcome is the name of the game around here!

Originally published November 11, 2008.

title image by miguel yellow octopus by Christopher



  1. Giving my kids’ my attention is also part of my WFMW post. I’m realizing more and more that the time goes by so quickly and I don’t want to miss even the little moments!

  2. Thanks for posting this, Amy! Our children need to see that we are invested in them as bit as much as in everything else that we do.

  3. Oh, boy, do they grow up fast. Mine are 18, 22, 24 and 26! Guess what…dirty laundry and dishes come back again and again, but those toddler and little kid moments never do. Your wake-up call came in plenty of time for you to enjoy the kiddies, and to notice great word-subs like “articles.” (Too cute!)
    It’s like that poem that ends: “I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.”
    And if your house occasionally goes to heck in a handbasket, remind yourself that the Queen isn’t coming for a visit! (Your kids are more important than she is, anyway!)

  4. Great post– you reeled me in with the title and then spoke some serious truth to my heart. Thank you! I took some time to paint with my kids on Monday. I realized that the To Do list was never going to be totally done. It is just so hard to remember that!

  5. We “type A” personalities need lots of these reminders. Thanks so much for a great one today. 🙂

  6. I really like all the scripture on your page. Blesssings to you for acting on top priorities – your kids – after hubby of course 🙂

  7. What a kid!
    I needed this, thanks. 🙂

  8. Is there anything better than wisdom from the mouth of a child?

    I am right with you in the “one more minute”…and all the rest. Definitely guilty! This is such an important reminder that is too easy to forget when we get caught up in the busyness of life.

  9. LOVE this! Thank you so much for this important reminder. 🙂

  10. Thanks for sharing this. This is something I struggle with all the time. It’s hard to remember sometimes that there will always be “just one more” task I could be working on, but my daughter’s childhood is only so many moments long.

  11. My kiddos have wished me an octopus too–how funny that someone else was told that. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

  12. Stephanie S says:

    I repeatidly tell my children “I’m NOT an octopus, that I only have two hands” when explaining why they need to wait. It has now turned into my 7 year old saying that she knows what animal I would like to be! Yes pretty much every day I would love to have 8 hands 🙂

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