an ode and farewell (to hair)

If you read this article, you’ll see my fate very clearly reflected within it. M asked me to cut all her hair off, and she’s not even three. I’ve asked her a dozen times since if she really, really, wants me to cut it all off, “all gone”, “bye-bye hair” and she always says yes.

I really love her hair. It never once went through an awkward stage, it’s straight and silky and shiny, with the perfect layers around her face and a little flip out at the end. People constantly comment on how beautiful it is, and how much they wish they or their daughters had such naturally gorgeous hair. Other moms ask me, “how do you get her to let you do her hair like that?” Of course, I don’t. I brush it once a day, and that’s it.

Of course, I don’t do her hair because she hates it. She doesn’t want it brushed, or braided, or played with, or put up in a pony tail. These days, a simple pony tail is too much to ask. She hates it. Even with copious amounts of detangler sprayed on it, she just wants nothing to do with brushing. Also, she doesn’t like washing it. She detests it when I try to lather up the soap for more than 2 seconds. I go in to put on some conditioner, and I meet with constant resistance and, “Stop it mommy! I don’t want it!” She also refuses to do it herself.

As a result of not liking it brushed or touched, the hair is always in her face. Since the age of 18 months she has been shoving it out of her eyes and mouth so many times per minute, it’s now almost a constant tic. For a girl that LOVES physical activity, from swimming to gymnastics, climbing to trampoline-jumping, it’s no wonder that when I ask her if she wanted it gone, she enthusiastically responds, “yes!”

Since my daughter is obviously not hung up on appearance, and has no sentimentality towards hair, why am I holding her back? Are those long, lovely locks really what I want my daughter to see me show pride in? What am I teaching her every time I bask in the glory of compliments over her hair, or force her to brush it each morning so that it looks “pretty” or “nice”? At the age of 17, I, too, cut off my long hair. My mother mourned like she’d lost a child. I scoffed at that and relished the freedom of my hair-less appearance. At 19 I had it practically shaved off. I didn’t grow it out again for nearly 10 years. And this  fall, I shaved half of it off again (much to my mother’s dismay, again) and I love it.

I have a lot more to gain as a parent and a role model by respecting my daughter’s sense of style and comfort than I do by hanging on to this strange sense of vanity. A whole lot more. It’s time to let her be who she is, and more than that, to revel and delight in it with her!

Cute pixie styles for preschool girls, anyone?

So here it is, my memorial to the long hair, and saying goodbye to what pleases me, and hello to what frees my daughter to be herself:

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Categories: parenting, Uncategorized

6 Comments »

  1. I think it’s awesome that you are letting her make this choice. She does have fantastic hair but it will be adorable short!
    We let Carter pick his own haircut by going through lots of photos. I don’t always love it, but he does and he’s so proud to have chosen it!

  2. My older daughter refused to have her hair cut, even though she hated my having to brush it every day. She did at least let me put it up, but whenever I asked her if she wanted it cut shorter, sure said no, emphatically. It was gorgeous, down past her butt, crazy thick and coarse, with six inches of ringlets at the ends, and women asked me all the time if I curled and / or highlighted it – like any mother of a three year old (let alone two kids under 4) has that kind of time! I was so determined to let her make the decision when and if we cut it, though, so we endured marathon hair maintenance sessions every day. My sister in law had never let my neices have any input into their hair decisions, and that just made me mad. Finally, right after she turned four, and we had a particular exasperating hair care session, I again asked her if she wanted to have her hair cut. Again she said No! But this time, I asked WHY. And she said, “Because it will hurt!” When I told her no, no it would not hurt, her face lit up and she was like, “Can we cut it TODAY?!” All that time, and I had never had the presence of mind to ask her why she didn’t want it cut!!

    We cut it that week, a cute little bob she and I loved, and everything was so much easier after that.

    My younger daughter has totally different hair, and like M, zero interest in having it touched in any way. The supposedly miraculous “wet brush” doesn’t help her like it’s helped her girlfriends with tangles. She did want to cut it, and we did a little over a year ago, simplifying our lives quite a bit, but now she wants it long again. Still doesn’t want it brushed, washed, conditioned, styled, braided, pony tailed, any more than maybe once a week, which isn’t enough! Still does not want to do it herself. I’m still letting her pick out all kinds of clips and bows she may use one time, then disses. So now my determination to let her have as much hair autonomy as is healthy is becoming a new level of challenging. I so wish she’d let me cut it again.

  3. My daugter’s hair grew really pretty too, and I held off cutting it for 2.8 years. But she would get tangles and cry when I brushed it. Like M she did not want it braided, or ponytailed. She luckily agreed to hair clips and bows so it could be off her face. Finally I had enough, even though like you I loved her long hair. I did ask her if she wanted it cut and for a few months she said no, and I respected that, then she warmed up to the idea and we cut it about a month ago. She had a good experience. I took just a couple of inches off and it much easier I think however she still hates her hair combed and cries every morning even if there are no tangles – ugh!

  4. Your account has your full name on it, heads up.

    I love her hair too but it is always in her face and that can’t be comfortable. Show het a few different styles and ask what she wants! I cut mine short for the first time when I was 9. Any chance she has enough to donate?

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