Before having my daughter, or at least at some uncertain but fairly recent time in my past, I was fascinated by family resemblances.
I loved to look at photographs and pick out shared features. One thing I found quite entertaining at parent-teacher interviews was to observe the resemblances between children and parents, both in looks and in mannerisms.
I think my favourite encounter of this sort was between an (occasionally challenging) parent and her (occasionally challenging) son. We were discussing some aspect of his behaviour and appropriate responses to it, and the mother commented with a bit of annoyance that no matter what she asked him, his response was always "Yeeeeaaaaah" (imagine it said through a resigned sigh). We went on with the conversation, and a couple of minutes later, she responds to one of my statements with "Yeeeeaaaaah" uttered in the exact same tone and manner as her son.
Enter AJ. Many people love to look for and comment on her resemblances. I find it amusing how varied these are. In the space of a day I can hear "she looks just like mom!" and then "she looks just like dad!" or even how she resembles someone in extended family. They're all right in a way I suppose: she has our genetic material and by extension our family's, too. But sometimes I feel like AJ is a kind of Rorschach test and everybody sees what they are looking for. If she was conceived by donor egg, and we didn't tell people, would they all make the same comments with the same conviction? I think they would.
And as for me?
I don't see resemblances to anyone. (Except when AJ yawns: then she looks like Mr. Turtle.) I'm not saying they aren't there; I just don't see them. I see AJ. Also, this may be indulging a privilege because I was lucky enough to have a genetically related child, but so far I don't care. I don't have the same desire to look for family resemblances in my daughter that I used to have with regards to other family members, students, friends and acquaintances.
I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps it is just harder to see resemblances to myself because I don't look at myself all the time. A lot of my mannerisms are habit, and like the mom in my example above, I probably don't notice that I'm even doing them. I do think it is easier to see resemblances to Mr. Turtle than to myself, although even so I don't see them constantly.
As for why I don't care, that's a bit harder. At least for now (because I may feel differently in the future) I think it has to do with a changed perception of what bonds a family together. Genetics are an obvious bond. However, after going through all the fertility tests which suggested I would probably not be able to have a genetically related child, I had to re-think what bonds a family together. Even though we were able to have a child, that experience still affects my perceptions. I feel like I crossed some invisible line, and things are just different on this side of the line. So when people comment that AJ is so much like me or Mr. Turtle or so and so, I smile and make an accommodating remark, but I'm not really playing the game.
Because what matters most to me is that I have a child who is her own individual, and becomes more that unique individual every day.
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