Eyes are always a predictable small talk topic with strangers; it’s easy to look at someone holding their child and say “awe, they have your eyes” or “do they have their dad’s eyes?”
I’ve been thinking about that recently, about how little harmless bits of small talk could affect a child who was adopted, tiny unexpected moments when they are reminded once more that they don’t really “belong”, moments to wonder whose eyes they do have.
And I’ve been thinking about Mother’s day and my own marvelous mother.
My mother’s eyes are a glorious blue with flecks of gold that reflect the sun’s radiance.
My eyes are green, but I too have sun flecks.
I’ve always liked my eyes; I’ve always loved my mother’s eyes.
When Dellabug was born for awhile it looked like she might have my mother’s eyes, but slowly, slowly, the gray-purple blues shimmered into the green-hazel spectrum with glints of gold.
Our little Kitty has bright blue eyes, but so far no gold has materialized.
As far as we can tell, both Angelina and Travis have clear blue eyes. Beautiful eyes. Maybe their mothers’ eyes?
Even more beautiful than the color of her eyes is that my mother’s eyes see people who are unseen. Growing up, if she saw a mom with little kids in the grocery store who clearly didn’t “belong”, often because they were foreign students or wives of foreign students, she would strike up a conversation that ended with an invitation to our house for dinner.
The year Dellabug was born I was working as an after-school nanny watching two young girls, elementary and middle school age. I would take them to their many and varied extracurricular actives throughout the week, and hang out in the park or library with one sibling while we waited for karate or tumbling class to finish. Frequently people would strike up a conversation with me, park people, library people, people who need a place to be because they do not have a place to belong. I enjoyed hearing people’s life stories, of quietly following along as someone rambled with frequent peseveration, and often ending the conversation in prayer.
One day the oldest gave a well practiced groan accompanied with eye rolling when a somewhat disheveled lady plopped down next to me in the library, then she stewed for the next hour. On the ride home she finally said what had been on her mind “why do you always talk to weirdos? it’s like you are some kind of freak magnet.” I gave her a crazed smile and said in a low voice “deep calls to deep” but that totally went over her head so I gave a serious answer too, one that I hope she remembers and thinks about as she matures, “People can tell when you don’t see them. The people you are talking about are used to not being seen, but people also know when they are seen and people who come up and talk with me all those times must know that I do see them. I think it would feel awful to walk through life being invisible to people, knowing that people around me wished I would just go away”
This was a very bright girl, but like all middle schoolers she thoroughly enjoyed being obtuse, so she quickly shot back “No one is invisible.” “Really?” I answered, “There isn’t anyone in your grade who is never really seen, whom no one ever really talks to or invites to things?” Long silence. “You’ve had nannies for years. You’ve been going to that library all your life. Did you ever see those people before? They have always been there, but you have never seen them before, have you?” Another long silence and finally a mumbled “Whatever”
Remembering that conversation today while I’m thinking about eyes and mothers, I realize I see people because my parents taught me how to see. I do have my mother’s eyes, eyes that see and care. And I pray that ALL my children inherit this trait, that when strangers kindly ask “do you have your mother’s eyes?” they can ALL truthfully say “yes, and my grandmother’s too.” Because they will all have eyes that see the people who are unseen, which I believe is a rare and beautiful trait.