The Family Cage


Happy family: an assemblage of animals of diverse habits and propensities living amicably, or at least quietly, together in one cage. [Century Dictionary, 1902]

Family is a verb.  It is what you make it.  If you don’t participate, it’s not much.  It’s that simple.  If family is a noun to you, then its’ members are just a few names attached to you legally that you share some blood, similar smiles, the same color eyes and addictions with.

You have to participate to make it happen.

You got to get in the cage with your diverse habits, differing propensities, and battling personalities to make it matter.

There’s no family like yours; there is no family cage like the one you are in.

The fights, the personalities that you find it hard to believe were birthed from the same body and how did I get an Uncle Pete for my brother?  How?

How did we get so many kids and why do they talk so loud leave their socks everywhere and eat all the salt-water taffy?  Who thought it was a good idea to have multiple generations, different sides of the family and a dog all in the same house and for this enormous amount of money?

Who thought it was a good idea to cook meals for numbers in the teens and spend a small fortune on groceries?  Let’s not even mention the hefty bill of the “ocean- near” home because let’s face it; ocean front would require selling blood and I’m going to lose too much of that in the fist fight I get in with brother Pete when he tells me I’m judgmental one more time or criticizes my driving again.

But there will never be another time like it.

You will never know a feeling like facing a giant rolling wave with six of your family members and ending up face first in the sand pulling up various bathing suit parts, unless you get out there on the sand.

There’s nothing like completing a thousand piece puzzle together at 1:00 a.m.  because Facebook, bills, chores and phone calls would never allow that at home.

There’s nothing like making four pots of coffee in the morning, thirteen sandwiches for lunch and going through twelve bottles of sunscreen, fifty two towels and cases of beer with the people you call your own.

By the end of the week you’ve figured out the best way to carry all your crap to the beach; the best way to stay hydrated and fed on a pile of sand in 100 hundred degrees weather; and the best waves to ride and how to ride them.

You have done all that and you have done it together.

You have lived in the cage and you have not killed each other.

All year long as you go to work and tackle school projects and fight snowstorms you will have flashbacks to the beach and you will start to dread and love and long for it by mid December.

If you make time for it, inevitably it will roll in like the tide, like tradition, and like Uncle Pete on a tasty wave.

It’s my family, it’s my tribe, it’s my cage and there’s no other one like it.

It’s not prison, it’s not a person place or thing; it’s a million little actions that take work but in the end is always worth it.

Long live the cage and throw away the key.

But make me a copy first, just in case.


Some days I write, some days I wait tables and some days I work with preschoolers; all of which I love; but ALL days I am the wife of a Richmond City Firefighter and the mother of two great boys named Beau and Donovan who couldn't be any more different if they tried. In my five seconds of free time I run, ride bikes and try not to watch trashy t.v. I can be reached at