Eye Color

My mother used to tell me I had brown eyes.  She had brown eyes too.  Chocolate brown.  Very deep and rich.  Doe eyes. I thought her eyes were pretty, even though they weren’t blue.  You see, my father’s eyes were blue – he always said blue eyes were “superior.”  But I didn’t believe him.  At that point, I liked the thought of having eyes the same color as my mother.  At that point, I wasn’t especially thankful that my eyes weren’t like my father’s.
 
A little later, I didn’t like having eyes the color of my mother’s eyes so much.  Later, I didn’t want to be like her in any way, shape, or form.  Later, I came to fear, resent and pretty intensely dislike her.  She didn’t protect me.  She hit me.  She belittled me.  She neglected me.  She didn’t take care of me…in fact, she expected me to take care of her.  She poured all of her problems out to me from the time I was a small child until she died.  When she couldn’t do it in person, she did it by writing long 20 to 40 page letters, filled with anguish over how horribly she was mistreated her entire life. Growing up, I cleaned the house, did the dishes, ironed the clothes, got my brother switched to a different class with a better teacher so he wouldn’t have to suffer the way I had and generally took care of whatever I could.  I picked up glasses she broke, cleaned up messes and tried to put things back together after she fell apart in hysterics and left the house to wander, leaving my brother and me alone for hours.  Never knowing if she would return.  She became a very heavy weight to carry for a little girl.  She was a very heavy weight to carry even for an adult.  So there came a time when I rejected her as she had rejected me and I resented the fact that there was anything about me that resembled her.  Even the color of my eyes.
 
Every time I had to tell the tag agency that my eyes were brown when I renewed my driver’s license, I thought of her.  This seemed an unfortunate similarity.  To be clear, I didn’t want my father’s eyes either.  I didn’t believe blue eyes were better just because that was the color of his.  He was far more abusive and despicable than my mother was.  But for some reason, I especially resented being told I was “like my mom” in any way.  To me, she was weak, selfish, uncaring, undependable, unstable and frightening. Someone to be avoided as much as possible because she was not safe.  I certainly didn’t want to be any of those things.  So I didn’t want to be like her in any form for fear I would resemble her overwhelming negative traits.
 
I remember one particular day, I was looking in the mirror and noticing how my eyes blended with the color of my hair.  I was an adult, not living at my parent’s home.  At that time, my hair had started getting darker and it was no longer an ash blonde.  It was kind of a reddish-brownish-ash-blondish kind of color.  But it was weird how my eyes looked like they were sort of a complimentary color…but…not.  My eyes were…hmmmm…what were they?
 
I was suddenly puzzled.  So I stopped for a moment and really looked at my eyes for the first time in my life.
 
My eyes were not brown.
 
They had some brown in them, mainly in an inner ring.  That inner ring was a light brown color with golden flecks.  But the outer circle, which was the biggest part of my eyes, that part was green.  That’s when I discovered I have hazel eyes.  Not really brown.  Hazel.  Different than my mother. 
 
I had always taken what she told me as being the truth.  I hadn’t even looked.  I was, after all, nothing.  Not a person.  And she would know the color of my eyes, right? 
 
She didn’t notice the color of my eyes.  To her, they were just brown.  And I had taken her word for it.  I believed what she told me.  I was so used to keeping my head down and being an object, I hadn’t even checked.
 
But I knew her eyes were brown.  I knew my father’s eyes were blue.  I looked into their eyes.  I noticed.
 
She didn’t notice.
 
If she was a friend or co-worker or a different type of relative, I wouldn’t expect her to know my eye color.  But she was my mother.  And she didn’t notice.
 
She didn’t notice when I first needed a bra.
 
She didn’t notice I was maturing, so I was never told about having a period.  The first time it happened, I thought I was dying. I was mortified and completely unprepared and undone, crying hysterically for hours.
 
She didn’t notice I was being sexually abused by my father, or so she later claimed.  Even when it happened while she was in the same room at times.
 
When I asked her what I was like as a child, she told me she didn’t really remember me.  She just remembered herself and what she was “going through” during my childhood.
 
Is it any wonder she didn’t realize my eyes were different than hers?  Everything was, after all, about her.
 
To someone casually glancing at me, not really looking, they would probably say I have light brownish eyes.  I can accept this and I acknowledge the fact that you have to look to notice they are not simply light brown.  I hadn’t even looked until that one day when I finally began to “see” myself as something apart from my mother.  Not really human, but with human form.  A form different than hers.  But now that I have taken the time to look, it’s pretty obvious my eyes are hazel.  Brown and green; more green than brown.  I don’t expect everyone to notice.  Certainly not a casual observer.  But one would think that a mother, someone who supposedly gazed into the eyes of their toddler, child, teenager for years and years, would have taken note of the color of her daughter’s eyes. At least if that mother ever noticed anything about anyone other than themselves.
 
Perhaps it’s just me.  Maybe I expected far too much.  But I find it rather strange that she, this woman who claimed she loved me with all of her heart, yet who acted like she hated me, never really looked into the eyes of her child, her daughter.  I find it odd that she could not remember me as a child and that, in fact, she never truly so much as noticed…me.

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