In today's society, to keep up with the high cost of running a household, be it single-parent families or couples with children, the extended family is definitely overextending itself.

My overextended family, for example, includes my mom and dad along with my younger brother; my oldest sister, who is separated, and her 9-year-old daughter; and me, also separated and my 9-year-old son.

Unfortunately, as our new living arrangement goes on, this "one big happy family" sometimes becomes a house of horrors.

Take the name thing, for example. Now, all of a sudden, three Clifton Davises occupy the same quarters, which causes quite a stir when the carrier comes by with mail, as it's usually anyone's guess whom the letter is for. In fact, mailmen often are afraid to deliver at our address. Once, all three of us were expecting a letter about the same time. Each day, as the carrier ascended the stairs to our mailbox, we would descend on him, anticipation in each of our steps. (Clifton the Third won the postal race when he finally received his kids' club membership card.)

Telephone callers -- not to mention answerers -- are in for it too when they phone and ask to speak with, you guessed it, Clifton Davis. It takes a few minutes to sort through the Cliftons -- Sr., Jr. or the Third.

Deciding to fly back to the nest wasn't easy, but when I told my mother I would be returning home, she said: "Everything is going to work out just nicely as long as the rent is paid on time." This shouldn't be a problem, I told myself. I'd been on my own before and remembered the landlord telling me upon signing the lease -- in not so motherly a fashion -- how things would work out just fine as long as ...

Of course there are times when the daily operations in my home are downright unpleasant. We fight. Or should I say we scratch each others' eyes out, but not over bathroom time or why someone didn't cut the grass when they were supposed to, but over who will get the last piece of fried chicken or the last slice of mom's homemade apple pie. You should hear us when my mom makes our favorite dish, Italian sausage and peppers. The noise travels for miles.

And my sister and I occasionally quarrel over our children. For example, when my son was grounded and I was at work, she allowed him to walk with her daughter to the corner store. "The only reason I let him go is because I didn't want my daughter to walk by herself," she said. My response to her was, "You go with her then!"

Since moving back with my parents I have enjoyed all the comforts of "home sweet home": the family dinners; the Sunday evenings sitting around the television watching our favorite program, "In Living Color"; the "friendly" advice my parents are so free with. All of these things can make a person yearn for home once he's left, but when I think about it all, I can't wait to get back out on my own. Clifton Davis Jr. is still waiting, and so are Senior and the Third.