You’ve heard that Dodie Smith quote about family before, right?
“The family, that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor in our innermost hearts ever quite wish to.”
Well, now you have. It was always bizarre to me. It’s accurate, but I wouldn’t use it in my scrapbook or something.
My pet octopus is big enough to stretch across the continental United States, from the east coast (and I do mean coast literally) to the southwest. The last time we were all in one place was two years ago. A lot has happened in two years. Like the birth of three more babies. Yeah, that’s kind of a big deal.
Last week, my octopus converged in south Alabama, and it was noisy, chaotic, and glorious. Growing up, there were six of us under one roof, and for the first fourteen years of my life until my brother moved out, it was a very small roof.
Last week, there were fifteen of us, plus three dogs. We could have hosted our very own basketball tournament. (Dibs on the tall guy!)
We didn’t get very much sleep, but we ate really well. There were only three guest bedrooms and two bathrooms between the majority of us, but no one minded my pajama pants. We had to be abundantly flexible, all the children were champs when it came to disrupted routines, and my brother has formed a conspiracy about Cheetos. (We also have a bucket full of inside jokes that you might find sprinkled throughout this post. Sorry.)
We’re all slightly candid because during our family photo shoot, we each brought our own cameras. There were four (five?) lenses firing off excessively. It was fun. I don’t know why it gets Lady Gaga all in a tizzy.
I feel like this photograph pretty much encompasses our entire time together: chaos, a collision of good looks, and an ongoing game of Where’s Waldo?. Except instead of Waldo, we were looking for one or more of the babies at any given time. Aunt Stinky Face is taunting Bean with a piece of paper, Moms is looking concerned, a wonky-eyed dog is photobombing, Bug is MIA, my brother and I are being dorks by taking pictures of each other taking pictures. So, yeah, all-encompassing.
There was so much hilarity and satisfaction and noise and enjoyment in one place, I’m surprised the city didn’t implode. We don’t get together anywhere near often enough, so when we do, it’s like a volcanic eruption of fun spewing all over anyone within shouting distance.
My family is my role model. If I can help foster and nurture an environment where my children can have even just a shadow of the bond between my siblings and me, then they are in for a lifetime of love.