Do you ever stop to really look at your kids? I mean REALLY look at them……feature by feature, down to the shape of their piggies? From the minute we found out we were pregnant with each of our children, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering who they would look like….Would they have Michael’s ears that stick out a little bit? Would they have my nose that I’ve hated since childhood? Would they have their grandmother’s smile? Their aunt’s laugh? Who would this little person be?
When Ryley was in the NICU, we didn’t know who he looked like at first. We couldn’t see much of his face, and what we did see was distorted by his red skin, the tape pulling and holding the tubes in place, the hat covering his tiny head, the goggles over his eyes………As the lines were removed, one by one, we began to see our son’s face emerge. We knew he’d had the blondest hair at birth…would it stay that way? I wondered if his features would be permanently altered in some way after the months of tubes and tape. He had “preemie head”…..the unmistakeable long, narrow head from so many days and months of laying in the isolette instead of floating in amniotic fluid. He had piggie nose from the CPAP…….Who would he look like now? Did he look the same as he would have if he had been full-term?
I see bits and pieces of a lot of people in Ryley. If you look at him and his uncle (Michael’s brother) next to each other, you would see that Ryley is the near spitting image of BJ. Ryley is shaped EXACTLY like Michael and even walks the same way. He’s long and lean, just like his Daddy. But I see some of me in the quirk of his eyebrows and in the lower lip.
Grace is a different story alltogether. Other than having a round face, she looks exactly as I did when I was a little girl. Amazing. It blows me away to look at her sometimes. When she was born, she looked like Michael. She couldn’t look less like him now. The other night I was putting her to bed, and had one of THOSE moments…..I looked into her eyes, and I saw my eyes. I saw my nose, my mouth, my eyebrows, my smile. This was me, in Grace. I just stopped. She asked me why I was looking at her that way. How do you explain this to a child? You see yourself in her. I don’t want to live my life through my daughter, but I see hope and I see future in her. I see me as a little girl with all the world before her. And I pray that some of my traits have not been inherited by her….those traits that have made some things difficult for me…..the painful shyness that took years to get over and that still can trap my tongue at the worst moments……the perfectionism that pushed me, sometimes to illness and exhaustion…….the overwhelming need to please others…….I saw myself in her eyes.
Ethan is his own little person. He’s pretty much half of Michael and half of me. He is long and lean like his Daddy, has the blond hair Michael did when he was a little boy, the blue eyes we both have, my smile, my mouth, feet like me, hands like Michael…….He is more outgoing than any of the three, at least at this developmental stage.
I look at the three of them…….Really look at them. I wonder who they will be when they grow up. What will they end up looking like, and what parts of them will they see in their own children.