The Shape of a Family

"This is my sons' brothers' mother," I told my plumber, who I ran into at the restaurant that one of my older sons' older brothers manages.

He shook his head and did a double take.

 We were there to celebrate my oldest's birthday, at the invitation of his older brother. His other older brother and sister were not with us as one of them has moved to California and the other had a previous engagement.

"Yeah, we both have the same ex-husband."

"Well, it's nice that you can get along."

"We actually have a lot in common, aside from the fact that our kids are siblings."

And we do. We've gone to church together and women's events together. We network about jobs. We get our nails done together. We celebrate birthdays and holidays and have other mutual friends now. We have even since returned to this restaurant for a ladies' outing with some of them.

I am certain that families come in many shapes and sizes. Nuclear families are not necessarily universal, nor is it the essential form of family. According to, there is a diversity of family across cultures and eras. "For example, the Zinacantecos of southern Mexico identify the basic social unit as a house, which may include one to twenty people."

There was a period of time when Grandma lived with us. After she passed away, and I really had to think hard about who to list as my "emergency contact," we realized the importance of our church family, and our friends who came to our weekly Pasta Nights, which were my effort to create community for my kids since we don't have much local family. (Pasta Night has become catch as catch can, now that it's a rare day when someone doesn't have "something.")

Our "house" is made up of five people with three different last names. I have always wished I could have one of those plaques on the house that says, "The So-and-so family." That will never happen, unless we call ourselves "The Er Family." (All of our last names end with E-R.)


Caroline B. Poser <><


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