Is Family Everything?

Being a Latina, I was raised with the focus that family is everything.

This was something that I sort of had a little bit of a love/hate relationship at times, but could never deny.

From a young age, I was put in charge of taking care of my younger siblings--I remember when both of my parents worked hourly positions staying home from school when one of my siblings was sick to take care of them so that way our household income wouldn't be impacted, as well as cooking meals for them, picking them up from school, driving them everywhere.

I remember a lot of people, even to this day, across cultures feeling like this was a negative situation--but I have to say that while some of it was a bit difficult (missing school to take care of siblings comes to mind, but to be honest as a teen I was not too bothered to miss school haha)--I really feel like helping out with cooking, cleaning and caring for my siblings was a huge benefit for me in so many ways.

For one, I feel like it's made my relationship with my siblings so strong. I feel like having that maternalistic feeling towards them has helped us to avoid a lot of the ups and downs of siblinghood and to have a really tight, unconditional bond.

I also remember being pregnant with Sofia and being so worried about if I would know what to do with her, only to have that "motherhood instinct" kick in--an instinct that I think had more to do with the fact that I was significantly involved in caring for 4 younger siblings in my lifetime more than any genetic component.

And now that I'm older, there's the cyclical benefit--my younger siblings who I helped out all of these years are now a part of helping my daughter and caring for her as well in such a sweet, nurturing way. Getting to see this has been so special, and I feel like in all honesty my sister is a better "co-parent" for Sofia than many husbands are to their wives!

I don't think that the Mexican "family above all else" mentality is always right, but I do think that it's amazing the things that can be accomplished if you are able to think with the mentality of the collective vs the individual from time to time--the collective doesn't even need to be your family (it could be a friend group or maybe even a church that you belong to) and it doesn't have to be so extreme as dropping every last thing in service to another person--but I do think there is something magical about creating a strong network of people who look out for each other, learn from each other, and grow with each other.

I hope from this point forward we can shift away from this "independence at all costs" moment that seems to be lurking in every corner of life--all the way from work, to dating (*cough cough* the million I don't need anyone now or ever memes *cough cough*, to parenting--to a culture where collaboration, leaning on each other, and community are the norm.

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