As a vertically challenged mom who looks to be still in her early 20s with five children, I get many comments in public. I receive the usual, “My, your hands are full!” or “Are they all yours? You look too young to have five kids!” But, I especially love when people use their comments to say something encouraging, like, “You are doing a great job. Good for you!”
My favorite comment ever, though, came at church one blue skied Sunday morning as we said hello to our neighboring seats. It's always an awkward time for this introvert, but with my then four-month-old in my arms she makes for a great conversation piece. As I said good morning, the mom behind our row exclaimed, “Oh! She has your face!”
Why, thank you!
You see, having five children with my husband has meant that I hear all too often how much they look like their father. Our fourth child is seriously a clone of my husband, except in girl form. It's almost creepy how identical they are when you compare their childhood pictures — dark chocolate-colored hair, full lips, blue eyes, long fingers, and all. Thank goodness she's a prettier version! So for the last two years that's all, I've heard as people compliment her looks. “She looks just like her daddy” started to get really old. I grew her and birthed her, and yet he gets the clone award? I can't even get an eye color as proof she's mine or something?
My others are a good mix of my husband and I, yet still people often see my husband in them more so. One looks little like either of us (and she's the one with the drastically different personality to match that gives me my best stories!) and instead resemble other family members. Genetics are weird.
“She has your face” — while a most hilarious way to put it — is a huge compliment to me. It was validation and proof that I did indeed grow her for nine months, spent months in bed with morning sickness, carried her within my legit-watermelon sized belly, and roared her into this world in my bath tub. I worked hard to grow this little being of joy! I did with all my others, too, of course. But this time, I get the satisfaction of my own little mini-me.
Will she hate that she looks just like me when she grows older? Yes, probably. I often got told as I was growing up that I looked like my mom and I hated it — but I can see now from my mother's eyes what a compliment that was. I can understand now the pride she felt when she said, “Well, thank you!” I hope one day, my mini-me will be thankful and understand that, too.
Somehow we are wired to look for those physical similarities and study features of others, whether in our own children or in babies we meet. It's fascinating to look for them. It's a connection to family members, both near and distant. It's what Grandmas love to study in their grand baby’s faces to remind them of when their own child many years ago lay in their arms. It's what adoptees look for when they reunite with their birth parents. Those similarities matter; it gives us a sense of connection.
While I feel a loving, adoring connection to all my children regardless of their appearance, what's interesting is that I often look upon the face of our fifth baby, and I feel like I know her on an even deeper level. It's like I know her already, and I've seen her before. Her almond eyes are my eyes. Her skin color is my olive, easy to tan skin. Her nose is the same shape as mine (I'm sorry, baby!). Her eyes already have a twinkle of green pushing through the blue, as mine do.
She may look exactly like me, but I can't wait to see how her personality and interest will bloom as she grows — whether they are similar to me or not.