I have a confession.
This is not something I am proud of, nor is it something I even think is right. But here it is: I like pretty children.
Shocking, no? The reality is I have just said what most people feel and will not admit. After all, who does not coo at the sight of dimples and curly hair and rounded baby pudge and sparkling eyes?
And how many times have I heard in whispered tones, "oh that baby is not as cute as he should be" or "poor kid, I hope he grows into that nose"?
More times than I care to admit.
With Sam, I was never worried about what others thought. She was a gorgeous baby with sparkling blue eyes, perfect skin and enough chub to be cute, but not so much to be put on a baby diet. She never had a conehead, a stork bite, weird birth marks or any other cosmetic issues beyond a cowlick in the front of her hair that occasionally stresses me out.
But Alan? Poor sweet, loveable, darling Alan. He is not so lucky. About one week ago my littlest one broke out in a terrible rash on his face. Yes, he got the dreaded infant acne. And like adolescent acne, it quickly grew from two or three spots to 52 or 3.
And while I would love my little guy if he looked like the Elephant Man, my sister came over the other day and pronounced that he is officially in an "ugly stage." Ouch. Normally, her blathering does not bother me (sorry babe, I love you, but really, "ugly stage"??) but in this case, I am worried. Do I think this is going to make any kind of real difference in our lives? Of course not. But a pretty baby is much nicer to show off. Is my baby the one who everyone coos at in public and then, in privacy, cringes?
I know this is a terribly shallow thing to worry about. I was hesitant to even blog about it for fear of being chased with flaming torches and hanged for being a bad mommy, but deep in the recesses of my mind, I remember I conversation I once had with Auntie K way back in college about unattractive children.
Ok, so yes, I know they are all G-d's creatures and lovely in their own right, but forgive me my shallowness for one moment and be honest: there are some seriously busted kids out there. They are smart, I am sure. They will probably go to Harvard and be much more successful than me, but let's face it, not all kids are meant to be in Gerber ads.
So, in this drunken conversation, we pondered this question: could you still love an ugly child? And my embarrassingly shallow answer? No way. Admittedly, I have matured by leaps and bounds (mostly). I would love my children no matter what they looked like and am completely embarrassed to even cop to ever having said that. However, I can't change the fact that somewhere, deep inside me, there is this insecurity. And my sister's comments brought it back again.
If infant acne is the greatest problem we face, I will be grateful. I know I am lucky to have a healthy boy and the fact is, I think he is gorgeous no matter what--the missing link in my adolescent/pre-parenthood musings--but what about others? What will they think?
The fact is, he is a summer baby and summer babies are more likely to get this. So we will soldier through. It is a well kept secret that most people think newborns are ugly (gasp!) and it is partially the hormones that keep us in love with our own, extoling the virtues of every cell in their body.
Looks matter. But they don't matter that much. He is still my perfectly beautiful baby boy.