My 5-year-old doppelgänger is the twin I prayed for

I always thought it would be wonderful to have an identical twin. I envisioned late nights, secret languages, and someone I could switch places with like in Parent Trap. I didn’t know I had a 30-year wait ahead of me, but I finally got the twin I’d always hoped for.

vivi-kelly-picture-comparison

I remember when Vivianne was born. I’m pretty sure I claimed every feature — that’s my nose, my eyes, my ears…I don’t know why it was so important to me then. It hasn’t been as important for me to identify myself in Vivianne’s two little sisters. But with my first-born I couldn’t wait to find out how my genes had fared.

I now see so much of her father in her and so much of her own unique look. She’s not a byproduct — she is her own product. A sweet, beautiful, intelligent girl that’s becoming increasingly independent and uniquely herself. It’s not all about the genes.

Some folks tell me, “Wow, she definitely looks like you,” and others say, “Wow, she looks just like her Dad.” And more than any other comment we get “Your husband must be tall,” after people take a look at my breast-height (Vivi’s words) 5-year-old and my 5’3″ inch frame.

When I saw pictures side by side I couldn’t ignore it. I had let up so much on trying to find myself in my daughter that I didn’t see it until Vivianne asked for bangs. Once she had bangs I posted the picture to Facebook and received many confirming comments. It’s the intensity of our shared gaze; it’s the same smile (except her lips are more full thanks to her dad), and the same confidence.

A few friends sent me pictures of themselves with their daughters at similar ages. It was uncanny to see all the similarities.

Here is a 7-year-old Laura with her almost 10-year-old daughter Jayne:

Laura-Lardon-Daughter-similar-picture

Here is Gabby and her 5-year-old daughter Soffee:

mom-daughter-look-alike

I have friends who have adopted as well and though they don’t look the same, you know they are family. You can see similarities. I used to nanny for a family whose adopted children drank iced tea with lemon, studied history religiously, and become seasoned travelers at young ages. Much like their older tea-drinking parents who naturally fostered these characteristics in them.

All my life I looked forward to having a baby. Period. It didn’t really go beyond that — in fact, I wondered how I would handle the years after the baby stage was over. Then she was born, and I found myself trying to identify with her by identifying myself in her.

But now that she’s a few years old I realize how limiting that could have been. When I looked for myself in her I didn’t realize that the best was yet to come. I love spending time with my 5-year-old, learning her secrets, inside jokes, and reading “grown-up” books like Charlotte’s Web at bedtime.

I’ve let go of seeing myself in her, and now I look for the her in her: The fashion sense, the humor, the encyclopedic knowledge of chicken facts are all unique to her. It was fun, and even helpful, to try to see myself in her for a season, but luckily that season didn’t last long and she is now free to become herself.

But still… doesn’t she look just like me?

Images by Kelly Wilbanks, Laura Larson, Patti Bryant, Katie Bryant

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