The Genetic Code

Growing up, how often did you hear "You look just like your mother!"?

For me, I couldn't walk into our local Wal-mart without being pegged as my father's daughter. My family portrait has been accused of being a cloning experiment though, we all tend to share a face. And now that I'm adding a member to that portrait I am stuck pondering the concept of genetics and how they will apply to my baby.

Jot down a quick list of what you don't like about your appearance. Not the best exercise for self-esteem, but stay with me here, I promise I can be more uplifting.

Then make a list of the traits you possess that people associate with your parents. (Your mother's eyes, your father's smile, etc;)

Finally, make a list of things you like about your appearance.

Now take those points and make a list of how you want your baby to look. Oh, don't pretend you haven't done this already. Because just like other people pick apart our faces and attribute them to one parent or the other, it is natural to wonder what our children will inherit from us, good or bad.

Genetics are a wild concept. Our offspring resemble our own faces forging an instinctual affection. Seeing bits of yourself reflected in that baby reinforces the desire to nurture and protect them.

But what about when that child grows up? When they are able to evaluate and critique their own appearance, will they be as appreciative for those resemblances are we were? Or will they turn into sullen teenagers who resent you for passing on poor vision and freckled skin?

Just a quick google search will reveal endless programs that promise to morph photos of you and your partner to reveal what your child will look like. And they usually end up looking like a bug-eyed alien with a skin disorder.

It's the same approach as cutting out individual facial characteristics from a photo of the family and pasting them ransom-note style to a surface. Cut out dad's eyes and stick them on top of mom's nose, put grandma's smile below and auntie's hair as the cherry on top. Now that you've compiled your ideal combination of genetic traits, how cute is that baby? Yeah, didn't think so.

 I hope my daughter can accept the best of her inherited traits with the bad as well. And I hope I can let go of this preoccupation with genetics since I can't control a darn thing about it. Will she have her dad's nose? My bad teeth? His fair skin? My curly hair?

All I know is that she will have a nose in general. And teeth and skin. And hair, unless she goes through a Sinead O'Connor phase, which is her choice. Whoever she may resemble is up to nature, but I am sure that no matter what she looks like, I'll find a piece of myself in there somewhere.

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