I took a picture with the both of you on the bottom of the steps this afternoon. It was right before golden hour and we were waiting for your papa to come home from work. Three times we thought we heard his truck pull up and you both rushed to the side door to check, then came right back to your respective spots on the right and left side of me.
It was one of those pictures that moms take and then immediately delete. That’s because we look at ourselves first (human nature) and notice all our imperfections. Today, I saw my tired eyes, my not-so-white teeth and my baby hairs that have just now started to grow rampant on the side of my forehead two years after delivering my youngest. I didn’t even look at my children in the picture for a second because all I could notice was how disheveled and unkempt I looked.
Then, I finally saw the two of you in the frame. Son, your head was tilted down in the exact way I tilt mine. That’s when I really noticed that we have the exact same chin. It’s sharp and pointy and there’s a caricature drawn of me and my siblings when we were younger that I can’t even look at because the artist drew it hanging off the page.
You’ve got it too my boy, along with your papa’s crystal blue eyes and lanky gait. Then there’s you, daughter. You’ve got my mousy brown hair, your papa’s nose and my grin. It’s crazy how much you two look alike and yet sometimes I feel like you’re worlds different. Every day, however, I’m reminded of how you’re a conglomeration of me and your papa and as you get older, I see it more and more.
I don’t know if either of you will develop my love for reading and writing, or if you’ll be more interested in sports or science than I was. Maybe you’ll take up basketball or theater like your papa or maybe you’ll like to roam for hours in the fields behind our house like I used to do. When we bought this property, I did so because I could see my future children having a little picnic in the clover beside the clothesline. You haven’t done that yet, but will you?
Only time will tell how much of our traits you inherited and what kinds of paths you’ll forge yourselves. Still, I can tell you this day with full certainty that regardless of what you look like or do, you’ve got our hearts. You’ve got our willingness to help others and our soft spot for rescue pups. I can see it when you play with a friend who’s all alone by the sandbox, or when you stop and help me move an injured turtle from the side of our rural route.
I know you have our heart and to see it walking around my kitchen and dancing around my living room in tiny human form is an experience that’s honestly out of this world. Will you love the things that I love and push away the things I don’t or will my aversion to some things draw you closer to them? Will you devour half of a chocolate cake in one sitting like I’ve been known to do or will you finally teach your old mama how to love salads? My eyes water at the very thought of cigarette smoke, so will you nix the habit and its alternatives as well?
I know I can’t push my opinions on you any more than I can make you eat your scrambled eggs and avocado in the mornings. I know I can’t expect you to find my television shows interesting or the smocked aprons I made you beautiful. Perspective is a beautiful thing, and I know one day you’ll be sitting alone at your desk, hands on the keyboard, looking back at your childhood and what it all means now.
I hope you see yourselves running in the fields, head thrown back laughing. I hope your memories include late-night ice cream runs with your parents and entire summer days spent by the community pool. I hope you learn to love that long, strong chin and that wispy hair. I hope those features become as much a part of you as the back of your hand or the way your eyes crinkle when you smile really wide. Most of all, if you don’t feel that we shared anything else, I hope you feel the love that was there. And please have one or two picnics in the clover along the way.