Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Daughter:The Same And Different As Me

by Amy Ruhlin

My daughter is home from college for the weekend. I see her walking towards me from across the room and for a moment, I am looking at myself when I was a girl of 20. The sight of her as a young me is so startling that I catch my breath. Since the day that she was born, I have watched in amazement, and often with relief, how different she is from me.
She has her father's eyes and the shape of his face. She has her own upturned nose and perfectly square jaw. She is well-proportioned and I am long-limbed. Her features are subtle and soft while mine are sharp and angular.
She dresses in colorful, flowery prints while I wear dark solids. She paints her nails: light green on her fingers and royal blue on her toes, colors my own hands and feet have never seen. She is sweet-natured and she is a good listener; she gives you her full attention with genuine concern. I am easily rattled and I talk too much, intent on making my point, sometimes failing to hear hers. She is patient and I am not.
She comes closer to me and I wonder if maybe it's the hair that makes her look like me: She wears it long and parted down the middle, as mine was at her age. But her hair is sleek and smooth; mine was coarse and wavy. She smiles at me and I realize that her smile is the same as mine: wide with straight teeth, a subtle similarity that seems to be asking me to take a closer look.
It's been so easy for me to see how my daughter is not like me. Our differences have created healthy boundaries and stark contrasts. They've allowed me to see that she is her own person and not an extension of me. I've seen in her traits that I only wish I had. I've seen in her, a quiet strength that made me question my own strength.
But today, I've seen myself in her and it made me smile. It made me think of ways in which we are alike.
We both move through challenges with fierce determination in the face of persistent self-doubts. We are both conscientious workers but we prefer lazy days. We both enjoy company but crave solitude.
2013-02-18-IMG_0466002.JPGWe both love words and we both write and we read books together. We both like yoga and we can strike a pose of downward dog or half moon together. We share an interest in politics and we laugh and cry together during romantic comedies. We both feel a little afraid when the plane takes off and breathe out together when it lands.
She will be 21 soon. And I now see that the old cliché, "a daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a friend," is actually true. And like most friends, my daughter and I are very different, and yet, at the same time, so very much the same.


  1. Like you and your daughter, I am the spitting image of my mom. Yes, I am an entire head taller, and I was blessed with my dad's thick mane instead of my mom's baby fine hair, but it is a bit eerie looking through boxes of old photos and seeing how similar we look.

    We are very different people, and I love that we have this undeniable bond.

  2. How lovely! This is one of the few moments in my life that I wished for a daughter. Most times I am thankful of all the hours I didn't need to spend in a mall with a teenaged girl!

  3. Amy, I relate so well to this post - I share a very similar relationship with my oldest daughter. What I love about our differences, though, is that they enable me to step back and offer her objective advice without trying to insert my own personality into the situation. While she and I share so many similar interests, her chosen path is very different from mine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to encourage her to be an individual.

  4. This is the first entry I have read in your blog and I am looking forward to reading more. Your post was so touching and well written as I am the mother of 2 daughters and I too, marvel at the similarities and differences rolled into these 2 women. One of my "adult" daughters, (24 yrs old) pointed me to you, as I just started a blog and I was interested in reading blogs of similar content. Thank you for providing inspiration.

  5. This is beautiful Amy, glad you posted it on the link-up over on Midlife Blvd.

  6. Oh how beautiful. I too have a daughter like yours, mine is 18 and just about to go off to college. Before my kids were born, someone (an older mom whose kids were already grown) told me that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" and I didn't really know what she was talking about but now that they're grown, they were wise words. Thanks for the inspiring post.

  7. This is such a beautiful mother, daughter tribute. "Our differences have created healthy boundaries and stark contrasts," is so true. Even though my daughter looks so much like me, she is very much her own person.

  8. This is a beautiful mother daughter tribute. "Our differences have created healthy boundaries and stark contrasts," is so true. Even though my daughter looks a lot like me, she is her own person.

  9. i'd think you were sisters...... thanks for sharing. :)

  10. I thought you were sisters, at first glance, and not until I read your piece that that is your daughter. My daughter looks nothing like me, even though I popped her out - she inherited her dad's Latino looks. Thanks for sharing.....