The Octopus and the Smidge

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.)

The Original Crew (For the record, my sister was wearing heels.)

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.

L to R (ish): Ying-Yang, Daddio, Willow Wonky, Moms, Egghead, Mrs. Egghead, assorted babies, Egghead's in-laws, Bean, Stinky Face, Your Smidget Hostess (and randos not related to us)

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.



Filed under Family

16 responses to “The Octopus and the Smidge

  1. Such a weird quote. True, though. And I agree, it wouldn’t be a scrapbooker’s delight. So glad you had some great family time filled with laughter and inside jokes!

  2. So lovely, Jess.

    (The words, the sentiment, the PEOPLE. You are all gorgeous. You know that, right?)

    This spring, my mother-in-law turns 70. She has one son (my husband) and three daughters (sound familiar?).

    I love all my in-laws like crazy and realize I am very lucky to have FOUR women who adore my husband but who somehow tolerate me.

    Anyway, we are hot and heavy into plans to get all the kids, spouses (spice!) and grandkids (8 of them) together in one place to celebrate her milestone next year.

    It may actually (unexpectedly) happen this Thanksgiving if the stars align.

    And I. Can’t. Wait.

    Your post here? Made me all the more excited.
    Even if there are a lot of candid pictures of us taken.

    Maybe ESPECIALLY if.

    Because really. Lady Gaga needs to chill.

    • I will now forever refer to the plural form of spouse as spice.

      You all are going to have an amazing time. Everyone needs to bring a camera. And hire a professional photographer to join the mix. They’re good at organizing chaos just long enough for photographic evidence.

      “Lady Gaga needs to chill.” -Julie, plus every other American.

      Let the wild rumpus start!

  3. We had a family reunion a couple years ago and I was surprised how meaningful it was. We’re a pretty distant extended family, but it was interesting seeing the connections.

  4. I think one of my aunts has that quote cross-stitched on a pillow somewhere. Ok, not…but it sure does fit!

  5. Well geesh. Could your family be any more gorgeous?! My extended family is pretty spread out, but luckily my immediate family is still all in New Jersey, so we get together fairly regularly (birthdays, holidays, etc.).

  6. My family reunion fits in a booth at a restaurant. We’re more squiddish which should be confused with Quidditch, a game Harry Potter played. He didn’t have any family either. Can Harry and me go to your next family reunion?

  7. Jess: You are so fortunate to be blessed by so many wonderful (and — um — gorgeous) people. Some really good genes there. And jeans, too.

    Wow, my extended family is never hanging out with your extended family .


    Can I join Clay at your next reunion? I’ll use my best southern manners and turn on my “y’all”?

  8. My family reunion would be more like Clay’s. We could sit in the booth across from his.

    Great post. Beautiful family!

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