The first genetic link I noticed was Sweet Pea’s eyes. She couldn’t have been more than a week old when I noticed that the shape of her eyes looked familiar—it looked just like my grandma… and my dad… and me! It was such a great feeling of connection: this baby was part of me, just like I was part of my parents, and so on and so forth.
The whole first year was all about playing “match the physical characteristics.” In addition to my family’s eyes, SP had my dimples, toes and skin (poor girl). She has my husband’s eye color and eye lashes. (Before you go feeling too sorry for DH for not getting many physical traits, consider that he said out loud that he always hoped she wouldn’t get his nose and ears. Trust me, he’s fine with it.)
Once SP got to be a toddler, and then a preschooler, the game shifted a little. It was less who she looked like and more who she acted like. We were delighted to link her love of art to DH’s. Her vocabulary and desire to make everyone laugh? Just like her mama’s. And she pushes food on people just like her great grandma, whose eyes she has. But for the first time, we were starting to see the “dark” side of some of these genetic connections.
DH’s fear of conflict combined with my belief that what you see on television is real resulted in SP’s aversion to watching any movie ever made. DH’s tendency to tamp down any “bad” feelings combined with my tendency to take everything personally led to SP not being willing to talk about why some small slight has plunged her into misery.
Now I’m not one to come down solely on the nature side of nature vs. nurture. I firmly believe that how someone is raised has a huge influence on how they behave. So I still have hope that we can overcome the genetic gifts we’ve given SP by giving her the nurturing gifts she needs: patience, understanding, hope, confidence.
I just wish we had more of these things in OUR genetic makeup. Because right now, nature is kicking nurture’s ass.