image1Whilst in Mauritius I spent a lot of time with one of my cousins and his adorable kids (pictured, do you see a likeness?). He’s the eldest cousin and I’m the youngest. Despite the differences in age and circumstance there is a lot the two of us share beside our grandparents; a sympathetic disposition, a tendency to laugh off serious statements, a keen interest in how our families have shaped us.

My eldest cousin spoke touchingly of his dream; to have the four of us cousins, our four collective children and our one remaining parent (mine) all together in a room. To just be together like that. He spoke so wistfully it made my heart ache. I have many friends who see their entire families every Christmas, every wedding, every funeral. I’ve met my cousins only a handful of times through my life, divided as we are by continents and expensive flight routes. I wish I were of more use to them, lame as I am with my poor grasp of language; my alien career choice; my bizarre hometown; my youth and naivety; my sincere unknowing of life.

My eldest cousin noted the similarities between all of us cousins. We are all independent, almost to the point of being loners. We are all sensitive listeners who try and help everyone out, but none of us are any good at asking for or accepting help of our own. We are actually terrible at accepting help: quick to retreat, happy to analyse our problems in solitude. We don’t like letting people in. We are all pretty laid-back about the trials of day to day life, saving ourselves for the bigger dramas. The kind of dramas that brew up over a lifetime because nobody knew what to do. The kind of crisis that can cause the rest of the family to dash across the globe and throw their best of intentions at; well-meaning but rashly executed.

Photo on 05-02-2015 at 21.51

I don’t really know what the role of family is. People to teach you, to support you, people who know you best, people who cared about you unconditionally? These aren’t really things I associate with my family. My local family is just me and my parents; three people with a backlog of misunderstandings and confusing geography. With the rest of my family, I know we are all similar people but we’re just too far away – and there’s not enough to go on, not enough to be getting on with.

The attributes of family are instead are the things I associate with my friends. It’s my friends who lift me up, it’s my friends who enlighten me, it’s my friends who support me. Why is that? Is it the age I am and the society I live in? Is it because I see my family so little? Is it because my family and I share the same flaws and therefore cannot look after each other properly? The same cracks in alternate mirrors, the same blots on our differing landscapes. It’s difficult to say.image2

20 thoughts on “Family

  1. Denise says:

    I have missed your posts, dear Laila, but I see you had a nice time in Mauritius, despite the feelings of being loners, like you thought and talked about. I found your little cousins suuuuper sweet! I understand all you talked about, but for reasons that I have already share with you, I won;t write further today :) It would bring me to tears and I have an eye surgery next week, so I am saving tears, they hurt inside (heart :( and eyes :) Like burning :) But be very sure that I understand what you wrote about! Hope you have a lovely weekend!


  2. christinadrh says:

    Great photos! It is funny about family. Oddly, I decided years ago that family will be your least supportive crutch to lean on if you want success in life. I think possibly because you are so close in situation that if you succeed it makes them feel like failures. Warped? Perhaps. Good post as always.


  3. The Fabulous Bee says:

    This post I can relate to as I am to independent as my family all have different views in life. I’m more of an advise giver than listening to others. I think its to do with the way we’ve grown up. This post was defiantly interesting to read x


  4. Jade says:

    Cousins always have an interesting dynamic. I have only met my English and Australian cousins infrequently over the years, as growing up I oscillated between the continents, yet now as adults (despite hardly knowing each other) the company is easy, and understanding instinctive. Something to cherish! Jx


  5. Monika says:

    This was a bit weird for me to read since I can’t imagine not being close to my family. I see, speak to or talk to my family every week if not every day. We all live incredibly close to one another. I have a somewhat large tight knit extended family and we get together on more than just the holidays. Before I moved in with my guy we (12ish) all lived in two houses right next door to one another with my uncle 40 mins away. Now in 30 mins away but the closeness has stayed consistent.



  6. Priya says:

    Your cousins (+ you) are adorable! I know the feeling you’re describing- all my cousins are spread across the world, so most of them I’ve only seen a few times. Family definitely has a shifting role as you grow, and actually, it’s somewhat comforting to know your family relationships will change in years to come.

    ♥ perfectly Priya


  7. Reshma says:

    I have to agree with the last comment by Priya. I have gone through several different phases in my relationship with my family as well as my friends. I have just learned to accept, grow and move onward and upward with each experience and phase in my life.


  8. Jen Saxton says:

    I really love these thoughts. I’ve often had ‘surrogate’ families doing the caring and emotional support for me too, even when I still lived at home. But I dream of having a family one day where we’re all close and care for each other in every way. I think the time we live in has had an affect to an extent – friends live closer or are just a text away and we’re more likely to move away from family. Xx


  9. Kim says:

    I’ve never lived close to my family and I always marvel at families that are close knit as they seem a novelty, I think there’s less significance put on the closeness of family in this day and age unfortunately :(
    I think it is true too that friends can be more supportive and know what’s really going on with us because sometimes they see the “real” us more often


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