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: