November 28, 2010

"She looks just like her dad..."

People tell my daughter Audra all the time how much she looks like her dad, to which she responds with stony silence and a dejected expression on her face.  She desperately wants to hear that same comment end with the word “mom.”  It’s not because her dad isn’t good-looking; after all, he’s the most handsome man in the world.  And it’s not that I am good-looking, because I see myself as ranking average at best.  It’s also not because she doesn’t love her daddy.  She adores him.  It’s simply because she’s a little girl, and I am, for better or worse, the one who to her is the standard for what a woman is.  She wants to grow up to be like me, inside and out.
But look at the two of them there.  People who tell her she looks like her dad are absolutely right.  She does.  Maybe not exactly like him; she does have my smile and my hair.  (It’s only through the advances of modern chemistry that I am blonder than when I was a child.)  But even to the casual observer her resemblance to him is undeniable, though obviously in a more feminine and youthful form.  And she really looks very little like her mommy to the right.
Knowing how Audra feels about this, I don’t dwell on the subject for long when it comes up.  But I do seize the opportunity to tell her something she wants to hear: that while she may not look like me, she is just like me in many ways.  We’re both lovers of flowers, pastel colors, decorating, painting, fancy things, story writing, big words, and too many other things to list completely, and we have very similar sensitive, emotional personalities.  I also remind her that the Lord has given her unique interests all her own, like cooking, inventing, and knitting, among other things.  I point out the special strengths she has that I don’t, like her fierce determination to keep trying something until she succeeds, a quality I admire and do not possess.  And eventually I’ll turn the conversation back to her deepest desire to have a common bond, and discuss with her how much we both love butterflies.  That’s really what she wants to hear.
Knowing how much she looks up to me and wants to emulate me gives me good cause to watch my mouth and my actions, and do my best to give her something worth imitating.  When I see her with her hands on her hips looking at one of her brothers with a finger up his nose, to which she’ll say, “Somebody needs some hand sanitizer,” I know where she’s heard it and seen it.  It reminds me that she’s watching my every move, and I ought to offer behavior of high quality for her observation.
I love that she looks like her daddy.  She has his big brown eyes and those high cheekbones, among so many other gorgeous features.  She’s beautiful.  And I love that she and I have our affection for flowers and butterflies in common.  But I hope that as she grows up I get the message across to her that I love her for the unique and lovely girl the Lord created her to be, inside and out.  I also pray fervently that she will make the decision to trust and follow Him.  That is the most important thing we could share.

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