When she emerged, my first words were, “She looks like dad.”
It was those lips. Those full lips that scrunch and pucker and eat up her face.
She has a slight dimple on her right cheek, and when she grins her nostrils flare and flutter happily.
Her pink-streaked eyelids droop, right-lid first, when fatigue sets in. Patches of strawberry blond hair change color in the evening light.
She is the most captivating, beautiful creature I have ever seen.
And the first response of Just About Everybody who has seen her is: “Wow, she looks just like you.”
I know she does. I know it logically, comparing her to faded polaroids circa 1977. And I see it in her stretches, in the round cheeks that bubble up when she smiles. She is so familiar.
All of which poses a conundrum and an opportunity — if I choose to question 20+ years of self image, that is.
Because if she is lovely (and she is); if she has a remarkable body that takes in the world and shines it back (and she does); if I think she is a stunning creature . . . then I must accept that I am, too. In some banished corner of my “Ugh, My Body” brain, I must already believe it. Why else would I be delighted to see my own bubble cheeks smiling back at me?
I’m pretty well versed the unhealthy cultural elements that have written themselves into my story. Come on – I’m a Mormon Feminist! And I have slowly let go of so many narratives that don’t fit. But the, “Ugh, My Body” sub-plot . . . not so much. Which makes me think I might have some stake in keeping it unrevised since middle school. Does accepting physical mediocrity let me neglect my body when it is inconvenient, smugly pretending not to care? Is honoring the entanglement of body-mind-soul too much work?
In 1987 or perhaps 1988, my family went camping in Canyonlands; it was those precious last days before the onset of puberty and the first schism between my mental and physical form. I caught my reflection in the glass doors of the visitor center and jumped. I saw my dad in the mirror. For one brief second, his face reflected out of my own. I was stunned by the obvious: I looked like my dad. And I thought it was kinda cool.
As I gaze at my daughter – all 12 weeks of her — I’m going to try not to overthink this, but let myself be stunned by the obvious and let it work in me how it may.
I’m curious: how has your resemblance – or lack of resemblance – to family members affected you?
P.S. To be fair, she does have my husband’s blue eyes.