I’ve never been overly enthusiastic about the color of my eyes and hair, a fact with which many women can probably sympathize. Doesn’t it always seem that we want what we don’t have, envy what does not come to us naturally? Curly-haired girls long for straight locks; girls with pin-straight hair envy the curls of their friends and classmates. Brown-eyed girls wish for the startling blues and greens of brighter eyes, while girls with blue and green eyes want to have eyes the color of melting chocolate. We are never satisfied with what we have been given, and we are willing to go to great lengths to trade in our lot in life. So many women sacrifice comfort and convenience to get what they want, turning to curlers, straighteners, curling irons, and colored contacts to get the look that we desire. The grass is always greener, as they say.
Like so many other women, I was never crazy about the color of my hair and eyes. I thought the shades of brown were so blah, and I envied the brighter pigments of my friends’ eyes and hair. I admired their strawberry blonde curls, or else their blue and green eyes. But the farthest I ever went to change my appearance was curling my hair for weddings and other nicer engagements. I was not crazy about the idea of dying my hair prematurely, and I saw no reason to use contacts when I had 20/20 vision (and when it meant getting so close to my eyes with a foreign object). And that’s how things remained until several weeks after John’s birth.
John was born with a head of wispy brown hair and the typical deep blue eyes of newborns. For several weeks I clung to the possibility that his eyes might lighten to a pretty shade of blue or green. As a recessive gene, I knew that it laid dormant in most of my family’s DNA, but with Andrew’s blue eyes, there was a definite chance that it might make an appearance. As the weeks passed and his eyes darkened to an unquestionable brown, it became clear that it wouldn’t.
I love absolutely everything about John- his toothy grin and round cheeks, the way his soft auburn hair tickles my face when he leans in for a kiss, how his little arms spread wide as he runs towards me for a hug, the way he squeals and rolls around on the floor when he’s tickled. I love it all. But I love his eyes the most.
His eyes are the same brown as mine. When I look into his big brown eyes, it’s like looking into my own eyes…but not. They are my eyes, but not mine. They look so much like mine, but when I look into them, I see an entirely different world. I see a world that belongs to an innocent child, a toddler who has never sinned and never suffered. I see a world that belongs to the happiest person I have ever met, who finds joy in the entire world around him. I see a world that belongs only to my son. Because in his world, there is me. There is me, and there is my husband. We are his world. When I look into his eyes, I see me.
But not as I see myself- how he sees me. I see my smile, a reflection of the love that inevitably draws out a smile of his own. I see my dark brown hair, the locks that tickle his face whenever the “tickle monster” attacks. I see my strong arms, arms that pick him up and carry him from place to place countless times each day. I see my hips, his regular perch, the perfect vantage point from which to view the world around him. I see my legs, John’s favorite place to cling when he wants to be picked up, held, comforted. And I see my eyes, the brown eyes that we share, the eyes filled with pure love and affection.
Before John was born, I was not crazy about my eyes. They seemed so dull and ordinary, just a regular shade of brown. Now they are one of my favorite features about myself. I fell in love with John’s eyes the first time I saw them, and that love did not weaken as I watched them darken from blue to brown. If anything, I came to love them more as I watched them change, as I watched them become so much like my own. How could I not love those eyes? How could I not love the eyes that were constantly filled with such love, such joy? And if I was going to love John’s brown eyes, how could I not love my own?
The entire world can change when we see it as our child does. What’s more important though, especially for mothers, is that our view of ourselves can change if we see ourselves in and through our children’s eyes. They do not see our flaws, or I should say that they see them, but do not perceive them to be flaws. They do not see any of our features as dull, ordinary, commonplace. They see everything as beautiful. We are beautiful.
The addition of a baby changes everything. It changes our priorities. It changes what we are willing to sacrifice. It changes how we view our husbands, our parents, our friends. The addition of a baby turns men into fathers, women into mothers, mothers and fathers into grandparents. It turns worlds upside down. But the addition of a baby offers us a very profound and beautiful gift- the ability to see ourselves in and through our child’s eyes.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!