I imagined what our child would look like years before my daughter was born. The whole idea was a mystery, but more so than most couples I believe, because he’s white and I’m black. Not only were we curious about eye color and if she’d have hair, we wondered what shade she may be. It didn’t matter of course, but it was something I pondered.
When I deliberated over what our daughter would look like, I secretly hoped she would have my eye shape and my husband’s eye color. He has very wide, stunning blue eyes. They were the first thing I noticed when I saw him, and still one of my favorite physical qualities of his.
I like the almond shape of my eyes though, and thought they may look striking in a lighter color on our little girl. But what do you know, she got the exact opposite: My eye color and his eye shape. And they couldn’t be cuter.
This was on my mind a few weeks ago while I was in a hair shop looking for some rollers. Another woman walked in and asked the man behind the counter if they sold color contacts. I stood by and watched as he pulled the case of display contacts out from their hiding space under the register, and observed, as the woman looked them over.
She was beautiful dark, like me, with gorgeous large almond-shaped eyes. When she looked up I noticed she had lighter eyes than mine. Very light. And based on her purchase inquiry, I guessed they were most likely colored contacts. It reminded me of a phase I went through. Starting in high school, and through most of college. I wore gray colored contacts. Grey sounds weird but they looked a pretty hazel when I wore them. I didn’t wear glasses, and I didn’t need contacts for vision. They were strictly cosmetic.
I liked the way they made me look different. I stood out, and got compliments almost daily on my “beautiful” eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my own eyes, I just liked standing out a little.
I wore them when I met my husband, on television, even at our wedding. He preferred I didn’t wear them, but I liked them so I kept up the habit. It wasn’t until I did an internship in Atlanta the summer before I graduated college that I decided to toss them.
There was a reporter I looked up to who took me under his wing. He was the youngest reporter at this powerhouse station, and he also happened to be black. He always told me what he thought straight up, and was never afraid to hold back with me. I’ll never forget what he asked me: “Why don’t you do you?”
“What?” The question caught me off guard. I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Why are you pretending to be someone you’re not? You don’t need to change the color of your eyes.”
I pointed out another reporter at the station who was doing the same thing, but he didn’t buy my excuse and told me I should ditch them.
So I did.
The next day I went in for the first time in a long time, with the eyes I was born with. “See, you have beautiful brown eyes,” he told me. “Dark brown eyes, the ones you were given.”
Thankfully, we’ve remained friends over the years and he continues to be a mentor of mine and give me advice when I need it. That conversation has stuck with me a long time and I often have to check myself and remember to just “do me.”
I’m glad I learned this lesson and came to love myself, and my eyes before my daughter was born, because now we share those eyes. Her eyes were light gray for a day, but turned as near-black as mine by day two.
They’re big and wide like her daddy’s and dark like mine. They’re his and mine. They’re beautiful, and perfectly mixed.
On the air, Jennifer Johnson delivers the news to the great people of the Lone Star State. Off the air, she’s a new mom and wanna-be Domestic Diva. She started documenting her journey through motherhood long before the baby was in the picture and has since blogged for Conceive Magazine, Parenting.com‘s Project Pregnancy, and Bravado Design’s Breastfeeding Diaries. Her journey began and continues on her blog, Baby Making Machine.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.