Our Eyes

Through all the sound and the tears I saw her eyes for what seemed like the first time. I look into those eyes every day. I want the connection. I want her to know that I am paying attention. I want her to see that I hear her. And I want her to look into mine for all the same reasons. But tonight, as I knelt in front of her trying to translate the thunder of my 5 year old daughter into my own language, her words disappeared and all I saw was her eyes. They looked wet and confused and tired and exactly like mine.

And I was reminded just how much she is me.

She looks just like her mom. I know her so well. These cheeks and that walk and those lips. This little girl looks and moves like that one must have when her young sandy hair was still straight. Often I watch her when she doesn’t know that I am and all I see is her mom. And just like I do with her mom, I get lost in her. Her hands and thoughts always seem to be moving. Her ideas are vivid and inevitable. Her power is undisguised but she doesn’t always remember that it’s there.

But those eyes are unmistakably me (tragically, too, considering what her mother’s eyes look like). They are deep brown and they can dance between focused and distant so quickly. They are quick to dissect and slow to sleep. Seeing yourself so precisely in your children’s features can be a bizarre feeling – a concrete reminder that this little person is you in much more than a metaphorical way.

I watch her create worlds and struggle with her own. I watch her will herself into solitude. And I watch her feel sad a lot.

I wish she didn’t get some of the parts of me that she seems to have gotten. I wish those eyes that look so much like mine weren’t such accurate windows to her soul, as the saying goes. I wish they just looked dark and heavy.

Kneeling there in front of her sadness and inability to know where it comes from, I found myself doing what I too often do. I was talking too much. I was thinking too much. I wanted to show her that she could just stop. Then I saw them, my eyes crying in front of me and I finally shut up. For a second I just held her and then I told her to look at me, to look into my eyes. I didn’t say it this time like I do when I am the dad that wants to be heard and respected. I said it like the dad that feels like that too sometimes. I told her to look at my eyes and how much they look like hers. I told her that I am just like her. I told her I understand.

For the first time in her life, I really think I did understand. I have never wanted to feel like I do sometimes. I am nearly forty years old and most of the time I have no idea how to get myself back out of that place. Yet, I expect her to. I expect my 5 year old daughter to do something that I can’t.

I hugged her for a long time and told her again that I understand. I almost told her that I was sorry that I gave that part of me to her, that I was sorry that I gave her my eyes, but I didn’t because she wouldn’t know what to do with that. Instead I told her that I wished that I could take it away from her and she said “but then you would have it, daddy”. I told her that I do and that is why I understand. We decided that it was okay to have our eyes and that together we could get through anything. We decided it was nice to share something so hard with someone we love so much.

The tears didn’t stop for the night, but they stopped for a while. Maybe our tears aren’t supposed to stop. Maybe they are something we are supposed to share. I certainly don’t know the answers to all of it, but tonight, when I looked in my daughter’s eyes, everything became much clearer.


About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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23 Responses to Our Eyes

  1. Brother David says:

    I know so much of which you speak and endure, Brother Father. Keep on. Everything will be alright. Someday. It really and truly will, and someday you will both realize and appreciate your commonalities, as I suspect you already do. This bond is uncomparable.

  2. Yara Fisher says:

    i was just telling someone today, someone who i love, how they have the most amazing eyes in the world to me – you can see everything in them if you are properly paying attention. she is lucky she has your eyes for so many reasons.

  3. Maggie Batt says:

    Eyes are the windows to the soul. I suspect your souls have spent many lifetimes together…lovely piece Mitchell.

  4. meka says:

    So beautiful Mitchell. Don’t ever apologize for giving her something such as those beautiful eyes and all that they see. Just as it is part of the beautiful person you are it will be the same for her. I see my anger expressed everyday in my 4 year old. It drives me insane. I feel bad that little being feels such big emotions. It makes us really think about how to handle those moments and we have the opportunity to teach them how to handle that super power for good not evil. Doesn’t always make the moment easier but you are not alone my friend. You just have the courage to put it in words so the rest of us can have some reassurance that we are not

  5. jmjackson8 says:

    Lovely post, thank you.

  6. Jan Page says:

    Wow – I love this!! One of your better pieces. So glad you are enjoying the parenthood journey.

  7. J i m says:

    Mitch, if you don’t stop making me cry while I’m at work, I’m going to stop reading! 🙂 Beautiful insight, beautiful writing. Thank you, my friend, for sharing your experiences. It’s always a good reminder to get out of my own way and enjoy the human experience.

  8. Wolf Pascoe says:

    What a beautiful outpouring of love. Thanks, Mitchell.

  9. Kerry says:

    we understand better what we mirror in others, especially our children. she may or may not understand you better at her age. who knows? but you understand her better and yourself 🙂

  10. Jett Superior says:

    My oldest son got my insomnia. My daughter got my propensity to spend her physical and emotional reserves like crazy.

    Both of these things are miserable things.

    My oldest son got my ability with the language and my clear, strong singing voice. My daughter got my eyes to see things that others miss and my hearty sense of go-and-blow adventure.

    All of these things are great things.

    I’m wondering what other bits of you that your daughter got. Maybe you might be eased some if you took inventory, you know?

  11. Shelley Dennis says:

    I am incredibly humbled by what I see here and how aware Mitchell is about the “eye thing” to be able to see it in his precious ones. It’s such a benign action and, yet, is so telling about the status of one’s soul. For people who love to please other people it’s a call to arms – for those who don’t know the difference – not so much. I only know when I see an incredibly beautiful family and they haven’t trained me yet in what is right, that I react, panic, worry and finally ask. Call me an enabler but that’s what I do – love, love, love this family and all it’s about in all of its facets and can’t wait to delve deeper into what is in here that will tell me how to minister, encourage or cover this family in the most perfect love we humans have to offer.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Shelley. And that is what you do – love, love, love. It pours out of you.

      I appreciate so much that you shared your time and thoughts with me.

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