The legend of Bigfoot lives on in American folklore, and although I don't know for sure if the big and hairy creature actually exists in the wild, I do believe in big foot, or at least big feet. I live with a bunch of them. (Big and hairy big-footed creatures, that is.)

My husband and sons tower over me by 8-10 inches. They all sport feet that hover around size 11 or larger, so there's no shortage of Bigfoots at our house.

I line their shoes up on a shelf by the back door. It's a morning ritual. Their lengthy sneakers surpass the width of the shelf. They hang over the edge, barely defying gravity. A centimeter more and I think they'd teeter totter their way to the floor.

We live in a two-story house and I used to be able to distinguish my husband's upstairs footsteps from our sons'. His were heavier and broader. Big feet make big clomping sounds.

Then, one by one, the boys joined him in big foot status. I no longer know who is awake and walking (stomping) around upstairs because their stomps are practically indistinguishable.

My youngest son was the last to join the big foot crew. Shoes he wore just a couple of years ago seem miniature in comparison to his now gigantic feet. I've taken possession of one of his old pairs of slider sandals. They are now three sizes too small for him, a couple of sizes too big for me. But they work for inside the house.

I'm happy to support the reduce, reuse and recycle concept but wearing his shoes isn't about that really. I like having a reminder of him close by - as near as my feet. Plus, they have a cushioned insole that is soft and sweet. (Like him, but you didn't hear that from me.)

While big feet surround me, we have a set of tiny ones in our midst. A new granddaughter was thankfully born with ten fingers, ten toes and two perfect little feet. She doesn't wear shoes yet, unless it is a special occasion. Ditto that for socks. She is like a mini-hippy - barefoot and carefree. Sucking on her bare toes. Pooping without regard in the living room.

Like my daughter, I didn't put shoes on my babies until absolutely necessary. I read somewhere that once you do, and once they are walking, they begin the long and arduous process of walking away.

I didn't want them to walk away. Then again, of course I did. Parenting is like that: a perfect dichotomous setup. You can be completely right and terribly wrong all at the same time.

My granddaughter just started walking. She staggers with the unsteadiness of a baby learning to walk, arms stretched outward to help with balance. Her gait reminds me of Frankenstein.

She does not.

This summer we'll spend time at the lake, walking on the beach. We'll all make footprints - some large, some not so large and some tiny. I hope no one mistakes them for Bigfoot.

Whatever the size, they'll make their imprint in the sand much like they've all made an imprint on my heart. Big, small and everything in between.

Because despite the fact that we are all walking our own path, each of us making our own footprints we are also making them together, walking it together.

Cheesy as gouda, I understand. But that's family. And I'll take my cheese any way I can get it - hairy, big footed and all.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.