Latinx Homecoming: Why Living With Mami Isn't A Big Deal

I was six years old when my aunt got divorced. When you're that young, nobody talks to you and explains life to you directly unless it falls outside of the values that your parents are trying to teach you. Only THEN does reality get twisted and retold into teachable moments. Divorce is bad -- that was my lesson to be learned during this time. I remember clearly how it was spoken about to me, though no one took the time to explain why she was suddenly husbandless.

I now know that her ex-husband suffered from mental health issues, and he was also an alcoholic, so he would sometimes disappear for days and stopped being able to provide monetarily for his family. My aunt left my uncle because of limited conversations around mental health and sexist presumptions about manhood.

What I do remember about my aunt and her divorce was that she moved back to my grandmother's house. That was not rare or odd, nor was it considered a step backwards. In Latinx households, you are encouraged to stay at home. And even when you move out, you are encouraged to stay nearby. La familia es todo.

I did not leave my house till I was wed, at age 24. My brother did not leave my mother's house till he was wed, at age 31. My 23-year-old sister lives at home and is currently a student at Florida International University, a predominantly Latinx university with a large portion of the student body STILL living at home.

This is not taboo. This is not something we openly shame ourselves for; this is cultural and common practice. Only when I went to go live in Nashville, Tennessee was I TOLD that this was odd, weird, not normal, embarrassing, etc.

When I got divorced, I finished school. And as I was planning my next moves and my mother suggested "ven a casa," nothing in me said this is odd, and weird, and embarrassing. It was natural and it was my mami playing a role in which she takes pride. It was my mami being my mami.

Our cultura means that we are extraordinarily attached to our parental units. They are our lifelines, even when we fundamentally disagree with a lot of their old-school ways. Going back is a claim to that lifeline. It is as natural as lemonade on a summer day. It is embedded in us, and it is part of who we are and how our people have remained alive despite living in a world that has tried to eliminate us time and time again. We hold each other up. Our mothers will carry us on their backs till it breaks, and it is something they are proud of and it is something that cannot be disconnected from who I am as a Latina today.

I know that I am accountable to my family. And I know that whatever I do and whatever I need, there will be a lifeline for me, eternally, so long as my mother is still alive.

Living at home, staying at home, living near our parents -- these are cultural markers. Respect these cultural markers as society has respected your need for distance and some semblance of independence as you live in your loft near campus that your parents pay for, while you get a degree -- that they also pay for -- for a career that they will most likely open the doors for you to get into.