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So who does she look like?

March 8th, 2004 · No Comments

She looks like her father. She looks like me. She looks like herself.

I am reluctant to compare my children’s looks to either Ted or me. When others sometimes comment on resemblances, or ask me what I think, I feel uncomfortable. I am sensitive to how the siblings might feel compared or contrasted, or told that one looks more like mom or dad, the implications of these impressions.

As any geneticist – or artist – would predict, I do think the girls look like Ted more than me. But my daughters look like their mother too.

My birthday is coming up sometime this month and as tradition each year I tend to look through my baby book. It’s fun to share the photos of Mommy as a girl with my own girls. I took the book out a while ago for our anniversary along with our wedding album, excavating them from the closet, so it’s been sitting here on my desk for a while.


Looking at the pictures, it’s easy to see how much the girls look like me. There is one baby photo where Ted asked “is that one of ours?” A picture of me at three looks a lot like our Michaela with wide eyes and smile. Five year old me with her pony tails looks a bit like our Abigail.

The clincher is a picture of me on Santa’s lap, an unhappy camper, an unhappy two year old camper before the camera. My face is scrunched up in a scream, red and wrinkled. It’s a familiar sight. I’ve seen that tantrum too many times. When they’re upset, our girls all resemble their mother.

Looking at our own daughters, I could dissect them if I desired. I could say who gave them their hair color. And who gave them their eyes.

But instead I am amazed. I look at them and wonder. This is what happens when we put Ted and me in a blender and pull out another human being. Wow.

There are different ways to think about how these girls came to be. I can imagine the gametes meeting. The genes-eye view of the race for survival.

Or I can think about the probability of all the chromosomes, dividing and replicating. I’ve remembered how our high school biology teacher told us that with the 2 million genes, it was amazing that we even resembled our siblings at all. It’s like a gigantic lottery with millions of options. To think about the traits that were passed down from those I’ve never met. The ones that made it to me. The nose and brow brought over from a distant land. The grandmother who had my hair, that waves when its wet, like the way my daughter’s does now. The ones that aced the statistics.

Then again, I don’t like to take my daughters apart in pieces. As if she were a puzzle of components. Each one is her own. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see bits of my mom and dad, but most of all I see me.

And I don’t like to think of it as one huge Lotto game between Ted and me and our genes. I don’t like to think the children happened by chance. I believe in science. I studied how life starts. I saw it under a scope. One cell becoming two becoming four. But I also believe there’s something else required for life, something that doesn’t fit under a microscope or even inside a mind.

I’ve heard about parents who began believing in God at the moment their baby was born. Birth is a spiritual experience. Looking at my girls, these kids who came out of my body, I have to believe there is a God. It’s proof enough for me. Nothing that Ted and I could do together on our own could result in something as amazing as these children.

When I look at the girls, I see the curves of their cheeks. I see their little noses and long arms. Their belly buttons and birthmarks. I imagine Someone watching them as they were made, Someone smoothing their skin, shaping their eyes, coloring their hair. Sure the DNA and RNA played a part as genes were activated and proteins manufactured. I believe both. There are reasons – and a Reason – why they are who they are.

The girls look like Ted. They look like me. But more than either of us, I hope they resemble the One who shaped them.

Tags: family