SHE LOOKS LIKE US

SHE LOOKS LIKE US

From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

She Looks Like Us

Three months before my first child was born, I began gathering baby things. I already had some clothes of mine that my mother had saved, some of my dad’s that my grandmother had saved, and some that my mother and grandmother had crocheted years before in much too early anticipation of this event.

There were a few dresses, a long white cotton one of my dad’s being the most beautiful and fragile, two buntings, booties and some tiny caps that we tried on over my husband’s fist.

I’m not very good at crafts, but it was important to me to handmake the pillows and quilts and skirts for a bassinet for this baby to sleep in. I had pictures of me in my long white baby’s gown, and it seemed the right way to start a new life. So I made one, with white eyelet, satin ribbons and bows—the only thing I ever made—and it turned out great.

Then I went shopping. Diapers, bottles, rattles, bibs, blankets, a stroller, a car seat, approved teething devices. It takes a lot of stuff to keep a modern baby in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed.

The soft, fresh things were arrayed in the pale yellow room that would soon be a nursery and already smelled of baby powder. I played with them while we waited.

We weren’t kept waiting too long. She arrived on her due date in the tradition of the great Caesar. She was red in the face from trying for 21 hours to get into the world the hard way, but her head was beautifully shaped, perfectly bald and, of course, perfectly beautiful. Eight pounds, one-half ounce, 19-and-one-half inches, 12:53 post meridiem, January 5, 1980.

Why are these details of infants told so carefully? Because every single thing about them is fascinating and important, that’s why.

When she was placed in my arms, I looked down at her face, she opened her eyes into mine and she smiled. I know, they say infants don’t smile. To that I say, “Ha!” To her I said, “Hi.”

Back in the gathering months, my husband and I had compiled long lists of names, and by comparing and discussing and eliminating, decided on Katherine for a girl and Benjamin for a boy. Either one was going to have my dad’s name for the middle: Lindsey. And, of course, Farris.

Katherine Lindsey Farris.

When I called my parents to announce her birth and told them the name, my dad asked me to repeat it. It was one of my early pleasures as a new mother to hear my literate, well-spoken father at a loss for words.

When it was time to bring her home, we dressed her in Dad’s delicate baby dress and small, pretty cap and a pair of the crocheted booties, which turned out to be huge.

The first friends we talked to asked what she looked like and I blurted out, “She looks like us!” Before that moment, I hadn’t even thought about it. But 10 months later, someone else thought she did too: the judge who approved our adoption.

Judy Farris

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