When I was a child, I remember thinking that my mother’s nose looked like a strawberry. It wasn’t that her nose was especially red, but her pores reminded me of the tiny black seeds on the flesh of a strawberry.
I look in the mirror now and see that I have inherited the strawberry nose. Occasionally I’ll give into the magical thinking that almost always accompanies my cosmetic buying and will purchase something that promises to minimize or eliminate the appearance of my pores. They never work and I usually forget to apply whatever potion I buy after a few days. I don’t love my skin but I’m cosmetically lazy. So I go about my business, showing my pores to the world.
I usually don’t think I look particularly like anyone in my family. My twin sister and I are fraternal. I don’t see my face when I look at my brothers or my father. But as I get older, I find that there are more and more moments where I catch a glimpse of myself and some feature reminds me of my mother. My large flat feet (feet is a charitable description. They are really more like size 11 flippers), my broad back and less than perfect posture, the first signs of gray hair I see beginning at my temples: here is the genetic evidence that ties me to my family, even as I’ve spent much of my adulthood creating a life that would not feel familiar to my mother.
When I look at my girl, I see her brother’s face. Two curly heads, big brown eyes, golden skin and, maybe, my nose. Before they were born, I used to worry about having an ugly baby, one that got my worst features. Then they were born and it seemed to me that they were both objectively gorgeous, not just beautiful because I am their mother, but like clinically beautiful (perhaps every mother thinks this). And I felt like I could say that because they don’t look like me, so I wasn’t bragging.
But now I wonder if there will be a day when Evelyn searches her face in the mirror and will start to see me there. Maybe we all really do turn into our mothers.