“Who does he look like?” asks the cashier as she scans my groceries and my almost-two-year-old son waves at her from the shopping cart.
“Who does he look like?” ask the other parents as our children chase each other around the park.
“Who does he look like?” asks a friend I haven’t seen in a while, the waitress when we go out to eat, anyone who has taken our family photo, and yes, even my own mother.
My husband and I both have brown eyes and dark hair. During my pregnancy, I spent countless hours imagining my little half-Puerto Rican, dark-skinned, brunette, brown-eyed boy. And instead, there was my perfect baby lying on my chest right after birth: blonde and blue-eyed.
I love that he looks different than we expected. I love surprises, and it’s a fun conversation starter . . . aside from the terrible milkman jokes. My father-in-law has blue eyes, as well as my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather. There are a few blondes scattered throughout our extended families. Genetically, it checks out, but the odds of it happening were pretty slim. As my husband and I like to say: if it took looking like neither of us for him to be this adorable, we’ll take it.
Other people may not see any family resemblance, but I do. Occasionally I’ll catch a glimpse in a photo where he looks like my brother or a cousin, and I’ll excitedly text my mom, “Do you see so-and-so here???” More often, it’s an expression or a mannerism. When he hugs a friend or waves to a stranger or makes a silly face, I see my husband. When he insists on doing something himself or focuses intently on a book, that’s when I shine through. We had a laugh when he was only a few days old and we realized he has the same long third toe as my husband. Sure, the resemblances are subtle, but they’re there.
This was my first lesson of motherhood: things will not go according to plan. Sometimes that means letting go of perfectionism, skipping nap time, or eating frozen pizza for dinner. And sometimes it means you will have the most beautiful child who happens to look nothing like you.
Of course, I think it’s cute when families are able to compare side-by-side photos of themselves and their children at similar ages. (We still could do that, I suppose, it just wouldn’t showcase much.) And yes, maybe it would be sweet to have a mini-me or mini-dad, but that would come with its own set of expectations. Instead, he is 100% himself.
Who does he look like? He looks like Theo.
And to top it all off, he’s left-handed.