Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I love spotting family resemblance. It always surprises and delights me when children look like their biological parents. Even though I know basically how genetics works--and by "basically" I mean that makes logical sense to my non-scientific mind that if you take building blocks from one person and put them together with building blocks from someone else, the end result looks kind of like both people. I'm so pleased when I can spot "his mother's eyes" or "her father's smile."
Before Westley was born, I was insanely curious about who he would look like. I tried to mash up Rob's and my features in my head, tried to mentally merge our kindergarten photos. I was pretty sure any children of ours would have pale skin; Rob glows in the dark, and my foundation shade should be called "Pasty Cline."

Pale parents-to-be, August 2007

Apart from a complexion requiring SPF 35-zillion, no other features stood out immediately. And so much for the better, really. Because when Westley was born, of course he looked exactly like...himself!
January 2008, 1 month old

February 2010, 26 months old

While I certainly wasn't expecting to give birth to a little clone of myself, I really thought I would see more of "me" (and my husband) in Westley. Of course, newborns don't really look like anything but newborn babies. But looking at Westley now, I still don't really see much of me. I know his blonde hair and blue eyes must have been my contribution, and he's got my big ol' sticky-outy ears for sure (sorry about that, dude). Also, Westley is tall, which I figure I'm responsible for. Occasionally, Westley will pull a face that looks just like Rob, but it's really hard to see the father-son resemblance behind Rob's facial hair and grown-up-man features.

At play gym recently, I was talking to another mother about Westley. "Is he yours?" she asked, sounding surprised.

"Yes," I said. And then, gesturing to the sleeping baby strapped to my chest in the Ergo, "She's not. But he is."
The woman was briefly confused, and then (when I explained that I was one child's mother and the other's nanny) embarrassed. I was embarrassed, too, both at having unintentionally embarrassed someone else, and also realizing my strong desire to have my child look like me. As much as I want him to be his own person, I really want people to know he's mine, just looking at him: "Well, that must be his mother."

Because I totally am. I mean, it's rainy and overcast and we're both wearing sunscreen!



Allison the Meep said...

So weird that she was surprised, because I really think Westley looks like a perfect mix of you and Rob.

What's really hard for people is when the kid doesn't have the same ethnicity as the parent. People can't wrap their minds around it, and always end up saying something really stupid. My pasty white redhead cousin had children with a Pakistani man, and of course the kids look just like him. People always feel the need to ask her if they're adopted. Why? And once when I was in the store with my friend who has two adopted Ugandan kids, a woman simply couldn't even get that kids could be adopted, so she asked us if we had some sort of daycare. Yes. 2 teachers watching the grand total of three children, on a field trip to Costco. That makes so much sense.

Carrie said...

I totally think he looks like you - you both have big doe eyes. Whatever to that lady!


It's me again. I don't know you, but judging from that photo he is all you in the eye department. So cute.
I must admit that my heart sinks a little when I get the comment (and I get it a LOT) wow, she looks NOTHING like you, regarding my daughter. I'm so proud of her individuality, but at the same time I want to be recognized in there too :)

Cindy said...

He's definitely got your eyes! I think I would find it funny just because you look too young to have a little boy! :)

lone ranger said...

Noelle, its funny as to how we madden ourselves with finding resemblences in our beloved ones. And its no different with you.

Looking into the eyes of your baby is like looking at an essential part of 'you'. consequentially, u maybe reminded of your own childhood days or of the era long gone by.

There's also something that u must look out for: The streak of individuality in Westley that is definitely his! This could well be a point of departure from the list of likenesses which u enumerate.

Liesl said...

I think he looks like you! I think the lady who thought otherwise needs to looks again... :)

Have a great weekend, Noelle!

Jennifer said...

It's in the eyes. He's all yours. :)

I totally get where you're coming from, though. When Cooper was born, I kept searching his face for the parts of me, the parts of my husband. It was so hard to tell but everyone kept saying he looked like my husband. Followed by, sorry! but he does! :) Oh well, the older he gets, the more I see both.

Happy weekend!