Tales From Humber: How the women in my life made a huge impact on me

Apr 11, 2023 | OP-ED, Tales From Humber

I remember when I was younger I would pick out dandelions and blow on them and make a wish, hoping it would come true. I remember when I was younger blowing out my candles on my birthday wishing for the same thing.

I wished for a sibling.

Growing up I heard, “You’re so lucky being an only child,” or “trust me you don’t want siblings,” over and over again. I never considered myself to be lucky, I considered myself to be lonely.

I longed for an older sibling to care for me and annoy me, or a younger one that I could help take care of or annoy. I wanted the ability to share those personal memories with someone and say, “Remember when mom did this.”

To this day, I still wish for a sibling but I’ve come to terms that it might not happen. But I realized I’ve had sisters my whole life. It just took a while to notice.

My family consists of a lot of cousins, most of them are girls and we’re all within the same age range. I always described my cousins and I as a ladder, the youngest is 19 and the oldest is 26, and the rest of us fall in between.

They, along with my mother, are the most influential female figures in my life.

An article from New Horizon Academy, a youth school in Minnesota, said a key critical role in a family is a woman who is a nurturer.

“When a mother nurtures a child, the child learns to be loving and to understand goodness,” it’s web site stated. “Because of this affection and love, we learn to love, as well as share the love.”

The statement may be one-sided in terms of gender, but in my case it was true. The love I’ve received from my mother has helped to shape me into a more loving person. My mother is the second oldest of four and witnessing the love she has for her siblings as well as the way she’s been a role model to her younger sisters, gave me a strong example to follow.

My cousins have impacted me in many ways, they played the role of younger and older sisters, which was something I needed in my life.

Seeing my cousins value their relationships with their siblings made me value relationships in my own life, whether they were friends or family. Compared to the boys, my female cousins make sure to keep in touch with one another consistently.

An article by University of Amsterdam professors Marjolein Blaauboer and Clara H. Mulder said women value having good relationships with family members more than men.

At a young age my cousins taught me how to be confident and independent. Seeing them embrace who they are, helped me feel more comfortable with myself and be less self-conscious in my late teens. Watching a few of them move out of their home and start providing for themselves really set an example of how to be independent.

One thing I value the most is the support we have for one another. As a child, not having a sister figure to support me and my dreams made me hesitant to take risks, but I was just looking at things the wrong way.

Their support has been a big part of my life for a long time. When I started high school and knew no one they gave me their own survival guide of the do’s and don’ts. When it was time for me to graduate they supported my decision to pursue what I am passionate about.

In the article Cousins are a priceless gift that keeps on giving by writer Christine Organ, she lists five reasons why the bond between cousins is unlike other relationships. Some of her reasons sum up my relationship with my family perfectly.

One reason was that cousins understand us in a way few people can. My cousins know my strengths and weaknesses, they know my deepest fears and desires better than anyone else because they were there to experience it with me.

The second reason was that cousins are a safe space. I can truly be myself around them without the fear of being judged. I know if I need to rant to someone they will listen and take me in with open arms.

And the third reason that matches my relationship with them perfectly is that “cousins are a combination of sibling and friend.”

Many people don’t have the privilege of saying they have eight people to call a friend and family, but I can wholeheartedly say that. The bond we share is unlike anything I have ever or will ever experience.

Their presence in my life impacted me far more than I realized, but mainly in terms of filling up that loneliness I felt as a child, and for that I will always be thankful for them.