I was at the Hamilton Farmer's Market a few weeks ago and a woman approached me and asked, "Aren't you someone's daughter?" We were both masked, so I figured she was trying to remember who I was and the context of where we met.
I admit I was trying not to chuckle and thinking how do I answer this without using a tongue-in-cheek reply. My answer: “Yes, I am.” We talked briefly and as I walked away it made me reflect.
Aren’t we all a daughter or son to someone? I am proud to be a daughter to my parents. They taught me to be my own person and gave guidance on how to make decisions and accept that not all decisions may turn out how I expected. They raised me the best way they knew how and I am grateful to them and their wisdom.
I am also proud to be the “American daughter” to two German families I lived with when I was stationed in Europe, one family in central Germany and the other in southern Germany. I am proud to be the “non-Jewish daughter” to a family in Seattle whom I lived with while being the caregiver to their developmentally disabled child. Finally, I am proud to be part of an extended local family that has opened their lives to include me.
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Being a daughter or son is not just biological; the opportunities are endless. If I had not taken the steps forward while in Germany, I would have lost many opportunities to learn first-hand about different cultures and traditions. Each family had special family traditions, some handed down over multiple generations. They taught me the history of their respective communities and regions that I know I would not have learned otherwise. As part of the family I had chores to do along with their other children, and sometimes the translation of the chore had all of us laughing.
Living with a Jewish family was another experience I treasure. Learning their customs and traditions that are hundreds of years old was always fascinating. Most memorable was living in a two-story house where Hanukkah was celebrated upstairs (actually all Jewish events were upstairs) and Christmas, including a tree and lights, was celebrated downstairs. Their children had not experienced the tradition of decorating a tree, so the first time they were allowed it was an evening full of laughter and festivities. That was a holiday tradition for me for an additional eleven years after I stopped caring for their disabled child.
Each opportunity I have had with the families I have been a part of has enabled me to be a better person and more understanding that differences are a main part of each and every life. As a daughter or son, you choose how you want to learn and experience differences in life. Some people are not able to make those decisions and rely on others, but I hope most lead to a positive life experience.
How would you answer the question “Aren’t you someone’s daughter (or son)?”
Valley Women’s Voices is a Sunday feature in the Ravalli Republic. Send submissions to OnMyMindMFT@gmail.com