Where did everyone go?
Some of my fondest childhood memories were spent with my family. I spent several days during the year either spending the night over an aunt/uncle’s home or having parties with them. My siblings and I were very close with our cousins and looked forward to our time together. My grandmother had 13 kids and my mother was the youngest. Therefore, the age ranges varied significantly which created a lot of multi generation intersection. I have first cousins that are the same age as my mom. Therefore, the concept of first, second, or even third cousin didn’t apply to us. We were all cousins, all family.
As I grew older and moved from our home in Detroit, those dynamics changed a bit. Although we had family when we moved to Ohio, it was a little different. Our relationships with the family in Detroit became estranged and non-existent. As a teenager, I didn’t understand why things were different. I just wanted to go home…back to Detroit where everyone was. I thought that moving took my family away. We no longer had the luxury of location to keep us connected. Seeing each other required planning trips, traveling and heavily relied on the adults.
When I began college, I lived on campus and rarely left. I fully immersed myself into the campus life experience and formed a new family there. I established relationships and connections that I never thought were possible outside of family. I also experienced loss of connection with my family and friends from home. Cousins who I planned my whole life with no longer thought we had anything in common. Felt I “changed”, and they couldn’t relate to me anymore. That hurt me and once again I felt like I had lost my family because I left. Going to college caused me to lose relationships I had my entire life. Relationships that were still fragile from the move to Ohio from Detroit. Despite my effort of traveling to Detroit any chance I could to visit and stay connected it was never the same. Those last couple years of high school after I moved changed things a lot and created distance that was hard to repair.
When I graduated college my new “family” that I created on campus went through changes. Many left for jobs or grad school in different cities which changed the dynamic of our relationship. Again, physical presence was no longer an option. The relationships we built required effort and work to stay connected since we were no longer on campus together. Some fizzled and others flourished. I questioned whether the bonds that were formed were situational or real. How could people I have spent almost every day with now become strangers to me. It felt just like when we left Detroit. Except this time, I had a better understanding and expectation that the relationships may end or change. Also of course by this time in my life technology created opportunities to connect with people that did not exist when I was younger. I also had access to more resources than before which afforded me and opportunity to maintain my relationships.
Getting married and starting a family marked another transition in my relationships. One that I did not expect. I truly thought it would bring me closer to my immediate family. However, my responsibilities increased, and I had less time to spend with other people. My husband and children are the family I created and have become the priority. I realized that the older I get my relationships with family and friends will evolve. Relationships are constantly growing and if they are real ones will withstand the changes that life brings.
I am also constantly learning that seasonal relationships are a thing and not a negative one. They’re quite valuable and necessary, they only hurt when we are unable to discern them from other relationship types. So much about life is relational which is vital to our growth as individuals. Without my childhood experiences with my cousins or my siblings I would not have learned the value of family. How even though one day we would grow up and life would be different we still impacted each other for life and taught each other things that will help us later.
Tiffany M. Terry, MPA
Professional Birth and Postpartum Doula
Licensed Real Estate Agent, Home Experts Realty