It's time for a few words of praise for my wonderful daughters. We are all familiar with the concept of the hand-me-down, usually the outgrown clothes that a person gives to a younger person. As a child I didn't have many sources of hand-me-downs: I was an only child, and I had only one older child family member, a cousin who was 2-1/2 years older. I don't recall wearing her clothes, though I must have.
But now that they are grown up, my kids have been a rich source of such endowments! I cannot begin to enumerate the shoes and articles of clothing that have ended up in my closet because they were too big, too small (shoes, never clothes!), too far out of style, too something. Some of my all-time favorite things to wear have come to me that way.
Still, the best hand-me-ups have been intangible, and unlike the tangible ones, they can be both given away and kept. B., my elder daughter, pictured above in her kitchen making bread, has provided me with ideas for craft projects, expertise in breadmaking, courage to try foods I have ignored or avoided for six decades, a vision of sustainability, and--most important of all--the inspiration of a compassionate analytical mind guided by a remarkable ability to see what is important and right in human relations (what my late husband called a "good gut"), which operates both in her work and in her role as a mother of two little ones. A., my younger daughter, has taught me a great deal about fine arts and design, guided my reading and music choices, clued me in on style, challenged me to work on physical fitness, and helped me up to keep up to date with technology (more or less). More profoundly, she has inspired me with her steadfast courage to wing out on her own, despite shyness and doubts; her ability to rise to occasions even when they are difficult; and her self-knowledge and her unwillingness to betray her own identity.
I hope I am still able to grow--though I would prefer that it not be in girth! But I will never outgrow the intangible hand-me-ups of knowledge and inspiration that I have received from my lovely smart daughters.