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  • Cuter

    June 16, 2009

    “He’s cuter than he used to be.”

    This was a comment that I overheard recently at a family gathering. When I realized the speaker was referring to my son, I laughed involuntarily. Not a belly laugh, but a sniff of disbelief as though I were trying to expel a gnat from my nose. Cuter than he used to be! Absurd.

    Her words seeped into the spongy part of my brain that processes and analyzes. I was surprised when I started to feel a little indignant. What exactly did she mean by that? That Sean wasn’t cute to start with but was just now approaching entry level cute? She was obviously unaware that the nurse in the delivery room had pronounced him “too cute” at birth. Too cute — too, as in unbearably cute, a level of cuteness that could not be tolerated, criminally cute. A professional nurse would not lie about something as serious as that.

    It was the first time that it had ever occurred to me that there might be someone on the earth who didn’t see Sean as I do – that someone might actually think that he is not cute, but just average, just so-so. I was astonished.

    As conversations about cousins, weather and jobs rose and fell and floated around the room, I held the expression of someone who was listening intently. I nodded and said things like “Is that right? You don’t say” all while diagramming those six words in my head. Cuter than he used to be.

    What if she were right? What if I was mistaken and Sean wasn’t catalogue cover cute? I kneaded this idea like a cat atop a velvet pillow. Silently, purposefully, obsessively pushing, pushing. Would it be so bad if my kid wasn’t cute or would it just be bad that I was so blind?

    As I pondered these things, I recalled that it was just the other day that Antique Daddy and I were looking through some early photos of Sean and we both agreed, and even laughed about how deluded we were. We didn’t remember him looking so goofy. We didn’t remember that his head looked like a big bald happy toothless bowling ball attached to drunken rag doll body. We thought he was too cute.  And in our eyes,  he was too cute – so stunningly and unbearably cute that we could do little else but sit around and look at him and sigh.

    It turns out that he is cuter than he used to be. And I am even more blindly in love with him than I used to be.

    * * * *

    This post was originally published in June of 2006.  Every season Sean is cuter than he used to be and his daddy and I are astonished at how much more in love with this child we are than we used to be. We didn’t think it was possible.

    47 Comments »

    1. Ann says:

      Based on the photos, your little boyfriend has always been too cute for words!! And I know of what I speak — my daughter is the same way…I couldn’t stop looking at her from the moment she arrived. I told my husband I felt like she was made for my eyes…and, of course, she was.
      Blessings,
      Ann

      * * *
      “I told my husband I felt like she was made for my eyes…and, of course, she was. ” — I love the way you expressed that Ann.

      Our children are made for our eyes, aren’t they? We can see in them things that others can’t and of course we can overlook things in them that others can’t. It’s a divine sort of thing that I know to be true not only of biological parents but adoptive parents as well. ~AM

      June 16th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    2. Nan says:

      Hmph. Don’t get me started on how much I care, any more, about what certain other people think or say about my children. And how much they are in denial about their own little frogs. Grrrrrr.

      June 16th, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    3. mannequin says:

      That’s one of those statements that just has no proper reply. “Oh yes, we know. He was ugly as dirt last time we saw you” just doesn’t seem right.
      I’m kinda delusional about my son’s musical abilities. Although he is extremely talented, I suppose he is no Lawrence Welk.

      June 16th, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    4. Pam D says:

      I’m not sure why, but after reading this post (and wiping tears of laughter from my eyes.. and THEN looking at a couple of pictures of MY incredibly, adorably cute Bug Hunter as the cutest baby in the world.. EVER!), I thought about Rodney Dangerfield’s quote from Caddyshack: “Lovely boy — now I now why tigers eat their young!” And, I’m thinking now about how, if God didn’t give me “mommy eyes” to see my boy in a special way, he’d be dead by now with all that he’s done. So I suppose that, at the very least, my clouded vision has kept me out of jail. I do love your writing in this post; so vivid and smooth, making me stop and think right in the midst of a guffaw. Brilliant.

      June 16th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    5. Mandy says:

      Ah yes, he sure is cute to me as well. The first time my brother saw my youngest daughter, she was 9 months old. she was bald and had a huge toothless grin that spread across her entire face at all times. Her father and I would sometimes secretly refer to her as “Uncle Fester”, but again that was our little secret because we still saw her as the cutest baby on the planet. The next time my brother saw her, she was 3 years old. The first thing he said was, “When did you get so darn cute?” and I said, “Always!” Some people! Now they are like two peas in a pod. She follows him around like a shadow and he couldn’t be anymore happy about it!

      June 16th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    6. Meg @ Spicy Magnolia says:

      Oh, this makes me smile! Brennan is only five months, but we have already had a number of people tell us that, “he keeps getting cuter and cuter!” (So I can relate to the astonishment of hearing that). And just the other day, we were looking at baby pictures totally asking ourselves if we really did have a cute baby at birth because of how much cuter he looked to us now. So I’m totally with you on this one, but you tell the story so much better!!

      June 16th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    7. Jeanne A says:

      Your son really is cute. But this post made me sad for the way we measure beauty. What about the kids that really aren’t cute? That have a physical deformity that deems then not cute in human eyes.

      My mom is 80 and she has twin sisters that are about 2 years younger than her. She says that when people would come to visit they would discuss which one was the cute one, or the smart one etc…………why do we do that? One sister seemed to always get the short stick.

      June 16th, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    8. Cheryl says:

      It is astonishing how much we love our kids…more than we ever thought we could love anyone. Just about the time you think you couldn’t possibly love them more, then you do. To love a child and be loved in return is the very definition of “my cup runneth over”.

      June 16th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    9. MommyJ says:

      When my brother was a newborn, someone came up to my Mom at church, looked at the baby, and said, “Well, I don’t think he’s ugly!”

      Which means someone said that he was?!

      It’s okay now though. My brother could be in the movies he’s so gorgeous. So there, old biddy lady saying mean things about a baby!

      June 16th, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    10. Kacey says:

      Unless you have been doctoring Sean’s photos, he has always been the cutest kid around! The idea!

      June 17th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    11. Teri from Indiana says:

      My mother has been less than kind about that sort of thing. If I hear one more time that The Little Man “looks like there’s something wrong with him…..you can just tell.” I may have to break one of the commandments and dishonor my mother. For the record, he’s the sweetest, happiest, most loving little screecher we’ve ever had. The screeching is something he’s learned from his 7 year old sister who just doesn’t look right either. You can tell these things according to my mother. How she can see her face for all the constant motion is beyond me. And for the record, yes, there is something “wrong” with him. He was prenatally abused by his birth mother by her drug use. But I don’t see what apparently my family is all yapping about. I see him and I feel the love in his little arms, two-teeth smiles and his grin when he looks at me and says “Daddaddad” when I try to get him to say Mama.

      June 17th, 2009 at 6:52 am

    12. Amy Sue Nathan says:

      I think that relative of yours had a fever that day. She was delirious!

      Sean IS too cute. I should know. I’m an expert because my kids were too cute at that age too.

      Unfortunately as teens, they aren’t always too cute. “Too” a lot of other things…sometimes.

      * * * *
      She’s an elderly aunt that never had any children. She doesn’t know. She’s sweet as can be but she just doesn’t know. She doesn’t know that if anyone disses my kid I might rip their head off. 🙂

      June 17th, 2009 at 7:48 am

    13. Heidi says:

      Wait!! Was my mother at your family gathering? Unfortunately, she always makes comments like that about kids’ looks.

      I always said I’d admit it if my kids were ugly but neither one is so I don’t have to worry.

      And I’m completely objective.

      P.S. That woman at your famly gathering must be a wee bit crazy. Sean’s a doll.

      June 17th, 2009 at 8:13 am

    14. marviv says:

      I hope it was not your Mother’s side of the family that made that remark. I’ve always thought Sean was not only cute, but absolutely and completely beautiful. If someone said otherwise, its just sour grapes!

      June 17th, 2009 at 8:21 am

    15. fern says:

      Every season I think the same thing of my own kids, and they are 19 and 16.

      But sometimes I wonder, do others look at my children and say “a face only a mother could love” But then I snap back to reality and realize the whole world must know that my children are stunningly beautiful (and exceedingly cute).

      June 17th, 2009 at 8:35 am

    16. Iota says:

      Hm. I wonder if a day will come when someone will say something to Sean that will make him ponder in similar manner whether, in fact, you and AD might not be the absolutely only very best mom and dad in the world.

      June 17th, 2009 at 9:05 am

    17. k&c's mom says:

      Yea for the Mama Bear in all us Mamas. Have you read “Julius, the Baby of the World” by Kevin Henkes?( Sequel to my favorite read- aloud first grade book “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.) Perhaps your relative is like Cousin Garland who needs to be shown a thing or too…:)

      June 17th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    18. zoom says:

      Sean IS cute, and so is his mama.

      And his mama can write. The following phrase is brilliant, brilliant writing:

      What if she were right? What if I was mistaken and Sean wasn’t catalogue cover cute? I kneaded this idea like a cat atop a velvet pillow. Silently, purposefully, obsessively pushing, pushing. Would it be so bad if my kid wasn’t cute or would it just be bad that I was so blind?

      Excellent.

      June 17th, 2009 at 9:44 am

    19. Shirley Cohen says:

      I went through the same experience, Wait until you have to watch ‘them’ find out the
      world does not revolve around them

      Start early on that one, our little king of the world was lead on to believe the myth a little too long! He too was sooo cute!

      * * *
      I’m with you on that Shirley. I’m actually writing a post about this, but I think our generation has failed our children in this regard by being too available to them and allowing them to persist in the belief beyond the age of two that they are the center of the universe. The other day, I heard a man “brag” that he was always available for his kid (who is 24). I wanted to say, “How sad.”

      June 17th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    20. Tara says:

      Seen his pics. He is too cute! 🙂 In fact, how do you feel about arranged marriages? Avery is now two, so I think it’s a reasonable age span…

      June 17th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    21. Aunt Murry says:

      I think every child is beautiful. The greatest sound in the world is a child’s laugh. The greatest perspective in the world is a childs. And I agree with Tara – He is too cute even if he looked like a toothless bowling ball with a rag doll body.

      June 17th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    22. Janet Chism says:

      Well, I haven’t see a lot of Sean’s older pictures but I know he is definitely a cutie now! And if he does continue to get cuter as time passes (if cuter is even possible), then that would no be a bad thing. I wish we could all be so lucky!!!

      June 17th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    23. Antique Mommy says:

      My mom tells this story about when she was a young mother and she was strolling my new born middle brother around the block. Some young gal stopped her and peeked in the carriage. “Don’t worry ma’am,” she said, “There is baby much uglier than that one block over.”

      June 17th, 2009 at 11:59 am

    24. Laurie says:

      I am convinced that our filters for knowing when to keep our mouths shut gets lost with age. It seems the elder poeple around me can’t manage to keep mean comments to themselves.

      And I am SURE that my daughters are the cutest things ever.

      * * *
      I think it goes full circle. Four-year-old will say anything that comes to mind and (some) 84-year-olds will say anything that comes to mind. And then there are just some people who simply must express any thought that flits by. I too sometimes say stuff even before I think of it. ~AM

      June 17th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    25. rrmama says:

      There are days that go by that I just look at my boys different. It dawns on me at that moment they are growing and changing. I also keep saying that this is my favorite age, what ever age they are. But honestly, they are all my favorite ages. I just wish sometimes Father Time would stop! Because right now ages 4 and 8 are my favorites!!!

      * * *
      I would pay cash money to have some more four. ~AM

      June 17th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    26. MM says:

      Great post! And I love this comment from reader #1:

      …I couldn’t stop looking at her from the moment she arrived. I told my husband I felt like she was made for my eyes…and, of course, she was.

      Makes me think of how God made all of us for HIS eyes. Not because he had to, not because of any other reason than he wanted to. He loves us! And if we are made in His image, then whatever explosion of emotion we might feel for our bald, toothless, screeching rag dolls, then just imagine the depth He feels for us. It’s really hard to comprehend that I can love anything or anyone more than my adorable little son. I DO see things in him that nobody else sees! So it’s even more incomprehensible that He loves us more than we love our own babies. It’s when I think about this, that I attempt to understand how my abusive earthly father is nowhere near the example of what a loving father is.

      June 17th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    27. Pam says:

      One morning at church, my Mom (who had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) told my cousin upon seeing her newly adopted baby ‘He’s beautiful, he looks nothing like you’. oy, I was just glad it wasn’t the other way around.

      BTW, Sean’s too cute, he looks just like you.

      June 17th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    28. Megan (FriedOkra) says:

      When Bean was about 6 months old, people started looking at her with these astonished eyes and saying things like, “Wow, look at those CHEEKS!” and we would puzzle and stew over what on earth they meant by that? Her cheeks were perfect! And not in the least astonishing, other than in their sheer perfection.

      In looking back, we realize she totally had a pumpkin head, with cheeks so big she looked like she’d just had her wisdom teeth extracted in a very rough and unprofessional manner.

      Blinded by lurve. (The cheeks *were* still perfect, though.)

      June 17th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    29. Beck says:

      Someone told me the other day that my oldest child is “doing so much better now!”. What on earth did THAT mean?
      All 3 of my kids are adorable, even in their earliest pictures where they looked like Winston Churchill in a 3 Stooges wig. With jaundice.

      June 17th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    30. Jenny-Jenny says:

      Unbearably cute and more and more in love with them every day. Although at 18 they get just bratty enough to let go. I believe it is truly part of God’s plan that teenagers go through times of being hard to live with. How would we ever be able to allow them to leave our sight otherwise?

      June 17th, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    31. Alice says:

      I have to admit that somewhere deep down I secretly believe that all the other mothers are watching my boys and thinking “Oh, she’s so lucky. Why aren’t my kids that cute, smart, sweet, etc.?” It hit me one day that in fact no one is thinking that and if anything they are actually thinking the same thing about their own kids.

      But then I dismissed that thought as ridiculous. No one could be that blind to the magnificence that is my boys. 🙂

      June 17th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    32. Carrie says:

      awww…this is so true! Of course, we always think our baby is the cutest ever…but, yeah, when I look back at those ‘balding’ days around 4 mos, he does look pretty funny. 🙂 And, of course, all newborns are utterly precious, but some are decidedly not cute (except mine, of course). 🙂

      June 17th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    33. mythoughtsonthat says:

      I, too,cannot stop looking at my boy- and he is nine! Sometimes when he is talking to me, I can’t concentrate on what he is saying because I am looking at him and his “cuteness”. In my long career of working with young children, I would always ask my coworkers: Would you know it if you had an ugly baby?

      And just this morning, as we entered our third fun-filled day of summer break, I was thinking I was falling in love with my boy a little more each day.

      Except for when he is annoying, which isn’t all that often, thank goodness.

      June 17th, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    34. Allison says:

      Mama and Daddy love sees beyond what others see. When I look at pictures of my beautiful Grace (now 7) when she was a few months old, I honestly cannot remember that phase when her head was so big, and she was so pudgy and just so round! All I remember is that she stole my heart the moment she was born and hasn’t given it back yet.

      Every child should have parents who see, really see, them!

      June 17th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    35. Lilly says:

      Your Sean surely is a cutie.

      But that said, I have to also say that I’ve been archiving ten years of photos of my son and with my present eyes he still was cute, but ordinary cute, not the incredibly, extraordinarily cute that I saw at the time. I think its a gift for parents to be a little blinded by their own kids’ cuteness, as long as they realize that they might be just a little biased and that most parents feel the same way about their own offspring.

      June 17th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    36. Linda says:

      Now that you mention it, I can remember back over 35 years ago when a friend angrily told me that I thought my first-born son was just perfect. I was a bit shaken to think that perhaps that was true. He was perfect to me. But I realized I might be putting a bit too much pressure on him to live up to my vision. We Moms have a way of seeing those precious ones with eyes a bit blurred with a deep, abiding love. I don’t know that that ever really changes.

      June 17th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    37. Baby Favorite says:

      Oh, puhlease. He was perfectly, adorably cute from birth on. End of discussion.

      Reminds me of a story my mom told of when she was born (way back in 1923): She said that one of her aunts said to her mother, “Well, she DOES have good ears, Alma.” As if her ears could be a beautiful newborn child’s only redeeming feature! My grandmother was seething, of course.

      People are funny.

      June 17th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    38. desi says:

      Every mommy has THE cutest kid in the world. If you don’t believe it, just ask her. and if you want to start a war, just tell her she doesn’t.

      June 17th, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    39. Michele says:

      Another phrase I don’t like is “You look like you’ve lost weight”. My Mom says that all the time to people. I just want to say What are you telling me? I looked like a fat cow last time you saw me?

      June 17th, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    40. momof8 says:

      I’d say he definitely started out too cute and just keeps getting cuter. Not only was the speaker totally wrong, but goodness, who says stuff like that???

      June 18th, 2009 at 10:43 am

    41. Bee says:

      When my daughter was a newborn, I couldn’t believe that people weren’t stopping me in stores to tell me how beautiful she was. Surely this was the most beautiful little girl ever born. I had almost decided that my husband, her father, for Pete’s sake, had just been really tired when he said she looked like his ugly cousin right after she was born. But looking back, I see that little cone head and swollen eyes that didn’t open for a month! Turns out, maybe she wasn’t the most beautiful baby ever born. Maybe I was the only one who could see the beautiful heart that beat there in that little chest.

      She doesn’t look like the ugly cousin anymore. She’s grown into quite a lovely young woman and I am so blessed to be her mother. Like you, I am still passionately in love with my child.

      June 18th, 2009 at 11:48 am

    42. Jackie Hall says:

      I think all parents have the same blind love you do about Sean.

      I know I though my son was the best looking baby that had ever been born. Now Blake is 17 I look at his new born picture form the hospital and he looks like an alien! LOL…

      June 18th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    43. carolb says:

      We often look back at early pictures of S and wonder how we could possibly have thought she was beautiful…so bug eyed and puffy!

      She’s gorgeous now though. I have no doubts!

      and Sean is too!!

      June 18th, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    44. Jenna says:

      I don’t have kids yet, but I still loved reading this. Then I had to laugh, because I am visiting in my hometown and today a lady from the church where I grew up told me I am skinnier than I used to be! Funny because: who says that?? and mostly because it’s not true! 🙂

      June 18th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    45. Stretch Mark Mama says:

      Oh, and then they start losing teeth, which leaves them with a mouthful of Big Teeth right beside Baby Teeth. Cute, but with a whole new definition, one that might include the words “dorky” and “weird.” 🙂

      June 19th, 2009 at 3:19 am

    46. Lisa says:

      I dunno… people always seem to coo over tiny babies, something about the “power of small” and older adults…

      Lisa

      June 19th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    47. Kat says:

      Too funny! I remember my own Mom saying that to ME about me a few years ago. Hey, I’m older so I loved it. Cute post.

      Hugs!
      Kat

      June 21st, 2009 at 5:03 pm

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