Same Same. But Different. (Day #47)

“She looks just like her daddy!”

For the first few weeks of Lil Mil’s life, this was the refrain.  From friends.  From family.  From strangers.  My recovery nurse’s input was, “she’s so cute!”  Then, with a glance at me:  “She doesn’t look like you at all.”  Then, with a definitive nod:  “Must look like her daddy.”

Husband is a good looking guy.  His sisters, like their mom, are both beautiful.  Having a daughter that looks like that side of the family certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, especially since the McBrayer appearance genes have a few kinks.  Floppy ears.  Long toes.  Bony heels.

Oh, wait.  Lil Mil got those, too.

Anyway, the point is, since the beginning, everyone has said that Lil Mil looks like Husband.  My parents decided around week #3 that she had Lauren-like qualities beyond the unfortunate ears and feet, and they sent a picture of me to prove their point.  The resemblance was striking, so much so that on first glance Husband couldn’t tell us apart.

But still.  To the general public, my daughter is the spitting image of her father.  And this is fine with me.

To me, she’s just Lil Mil.  After staring down at it for the better part of the last eight weeks, I know her face almost as well as I know my own.  The shape of her eyebrows.  The little creases beneath her eyes.  Her pointy little chin.  The way her hair grows forward on her forehead.  When I look at her, it’s hard for me to see anyone but her.

There are moments when I see bits of me.  Not in her appearance, but in the way she acts.  I’ll notice some baby trait and infuse it with meaning, reading it as a clue to her adult personality.   Her moanyness means she won’t  be afraid to express her opinion (like her mama).  The fact that she doesn’t cry when we pour water over her face during bathtime means she’ll be a great swimmer (like her mama).  But even in these moments, she still feels like an other.  Not distant from me, but separate.  Independent.  Her own person.

And she is.  Her own person.  Entirely.  I realized this for the first time months before she was born, when I still hadn’t felt her kick and I was getting nervous.  I remember walking  to my car in the parking garage of my office building, willing her to kick, the way you will yourself to pee before a long road trip.   Just kick.  C’mon, KICK! This wasn’t the first time I’d done this, but it was the first time I realized – really realized – that it wouldn’t work.  Because she wasn’t part of me.  She was connected to me, living off me even, but she wasn’t an extension of me.

So, yesterday, the two of us were in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s.  We were doing our usual checkout line routine.  She was in her carseat, staring up at me, and I was staring back.  I noticed a piece of white fuzz on her cheek, so I scanned her body to see where it had come from and saw that she was clutching an even bigger chunk of fuzz in her fist.  So I picked up her hand and pried open her fingers to retrieve it.  As I was doing that, I glanced down at her tiny little (but deceptively sharp) fingernails.  And they were purple.

Not alarming what-is-wrong-with-my-child! purple.  Just tinged ever so slightly at the base of the nailbed.

Just like her mama.

It was one of those moments.  The ones we talk about so often here in blogland.  One of those unforgettable, imprinted-on-your-soul moments.  She is like me, I thought.  There are things about her, things I don’t even know yet, that are mine.  My quirks. My traits. My me-ness.  They are mine.  They make me different.

And now they’re hers.  They make her different.

But not different from me.

(Do people say your kids look like you or your [insert appropriate term here]?  Are there things about your children that remind you of yourself?  Which traits of yours do you hope your children inherit?  Which do you pray they don’t?  Do you think Lil Mil and I (I’m the one on the left in the photos above) look alike ?  Do you think I should be concerned about her purple tinged nails?)

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