Purposeful Parent Tip: Look beyond your child’s eyes and see the light in their spirit.
I have my mother’s eyes. According to genetics theory however, I shouldn’t. You see, my father’s eyes are brown, my mother’s blue. Brown eyes are the more dominant or common eye color, while blue eyes are said to be rarer. I’m not the only one who has my mother’s eyes, however. All five of my brothers and sisters have them too. I’d say that we all got more from her than just her eye color though.
I was reminded of my mother’s eyes the other day when I was about to mend a throw pillow that had gotten torn. I took out my sorry excuse for a sewing kit and chose the appropriate colored thread. I searched for a needle that wouldn’t be too big or too small as the pillow’s material was fairly thin and I didn’t want to tear it more. When I’d found a needle that would work, I cut off a piece of thread to fit the size of the tear and tried to thread the needle.
And tried. And tried. And tried.
“Cheap thread. It’s frayed at the end. I’ll snip it,” I said to myself as I tried again to thread the needle. “It’s the lighting in my bedroom that’s the problem,” I muttered after another failed attempt. “I can’t see anything in here.” I moved my chair so that I was directly under the table lamp and tried to thread the needle again. It was no use.
I called to my young daughter in the other room. “Can you thread this for me?” She nailed it on the first try. “It’s so easy, Mommy. I can’t believe you can’t see it.”
Her words were still hanging in the air like a bubble over a cartoon character’s head and I was instantly brought back to the kitchen table in my childhood home. I was with my mom who was mending something or other. She asked me the same question. “Jennifer, can you thread this for me?” My response, after I’d easily threaded the tiny needle on the first go, matched my daughter’s to a “T”.
I’ve never had good vision – worn glasses since first grade; contact lenses since eighth grade. I prayed when my children were born that they would not inherit my eyes.
Both of my children have had perfect vision all of their lives, until this year when it was recommended that my daughter get glasses. I know this is not a terrible thing but as I listened to the eye doctor say, “She’s a little nearsighted in one eye and the glasses will help balance out her vision,” my heart sunk just a little. It seemed in that moment that my pleas of “don’t let her have my eyes” were ignored.
I immediately pictured my daughter’s life with the added burden of glasses or contacts. I imagined the many days she’d wake up, like me, and not be able to see the alarm clock unless she was two millimeters from it and even then she’d have to squint. I thought of the frustration and angst she’d have to go through at her yearly eye doctor appointments when her prescriptions would continue to get stronger and stronger until without her corrective eyewear, she’d be described as “legally blind.”
The next words out of the eye doctor’s mouth eased my worry. “She’ll never have eyes like yours.” “Thank you, God,” I said silently. But what was I thanking him for? I love my daughter’s eyes and my son’s too for that matter. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them to inherit my eyes – it was my poor vision that I didn’t want to pass on. There’s a big difference.
It’s said that the eyes are the window to the soul. I believe this. People can usually tell what’s going on with me simply by looking at me. I, too, can always tell what’s going on with my kids by looking in their eyes. Whether it is the big Hershey Kiss brown eyes of my son or my daughter’s crystal clear blue eyes – I can see right through them and know if they are happy, or sad, or if they are busy contemplating their next play on Mom for a coveted item or later bed time.
We inherit a lot of things from our parents – eye color, hair color, body shape, even the potential for certain illnesses. But I think we inherit a lot more than these physical traits.
When I look at my son, I see my dad’s brown eyes reminding me of his strength and his sense of humor. As I gaze into the blue eyes of my daughter, I see the love and compassion from my mom. Both of my children are a reminder to me of where I came from and what I was given from my own parents.
That’s my REAL genetics my REAL legacy – what I hope to pass along to my children and they to their children as well. And while I still pray that they bypass some of the more negative parts of my DNA, my real work is ensuring that they get the very best of my other qualities and those that I’ve inherited from my parents.
Courage, strength, resilience, love, faith, compassion, a quick wit, and more. If I’m successful at this, then it won’t matter if at some point in the future when I look deep into my children’s eyes that there’s a pair of glasses or contact lenses in between. Their eyes are the window to their soul.
And as their mom looking in, I have 20/20 vision.