When my daughter was first shown to me, a frowning lil babe fast asleep and oblivious to the world, the first thought that bounced into my head was “Err, who on earth does she look like. Not me for sure!” Even as sundry relatives exclaimed and sighed about how much she resembled this person or that – I found myself asking this question often – “Who exactly is this little person like?”
As I settled into my life as a first time mother I kept wondering about who I could model my daughter on – where was the blueprint that told me who she was. Of course I knew enough biology to know about genetics and the resulting havoc – but where were the signs already?
I peered down at her eyes, her nose and the little bud that was her mouth. Her tiny toes and fingers – so very delicate – could have been no one I knew but every baby in town. As she gurgled and laughed at me and went about her baby business I found myself going slow with my questions and allowed myself to fall in love with this little stranger.
The first year passed in a blur of wails, colic and exasperating sleep times. I honestly was getting through the motions on most days. Then one day I sat in front of my computer, baby in lap, utterly exhausted and turned on YouTube. I scrolled through to a song that had been quite popular when I was pregnant. As I sat there getting numbed by the familiar strains of music I suddenly noticed, that there were two right feet bobbing to the rhythm of the song. One mine and one of course, my daughter’s.
With time, we started noticing other things in her that reminded us of others and ourselves. The way she kept her feet one over the other – was just like her grandmother. The way she preferred using her left hand and turned out to be a leftie – like the other grandmother. Her penchant for using big words as she learnt to speak – like her grandfather. And then sometimes there would be sightings of a great-grand-mother and great-grand-father too! People started to come alive all over again through our daughter.
As she grows she shows us how similar she is to all of us and yet how different that makes her from us. She is her own person, a whole who is greater than the sum of parts. In some way I guess, the reason most of us want to become parents is to see our legacy carried forward. Yet it is heartening to know that while a lot of that does happen, there is something new that comes with every child. A whole new person building her own legacy, idiosyncrasies and distinguishing characteristics.
Needless to say, I have stopped looking out for similarities between me and my daughter. I am content in knowing that they are there. But I rejoice in all the differences that we have, the way in which she has grown out of me and is now growing into someone in her own right. And as I learn that for myself as I parent, I do wonder if the world could benefit from this view too. Wherein we stop hunting for similarities and classifications and instead rejoice in our differences and individualities.
As with many other things, children can surely lead the way in changing our worldview too. What do you think?
Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom