Is it too soon for another post about hair? I cannot avoid it. There it is atop my grateful head, making me look exactly like… a mom. I have mom hair. April, who is the sort of friend who will tell me these things, counseled me to commit: either keep growing, or abandon the effort and aim for an edgier ‘do. At this point, I’m waiting out many more months sporting too-cutesy-for-40 barrettes and headbands until my bangs reach ponytail nirvana. In the meantime, I’m your go-to girl for bake sales, playdates, orange quartering, and quinoa recipes. I’m the woman-most-likely-to-get-out-of-the-minivan. No one doubts for a soccer halftime second that I have Purell and granola bars in my purse. And unless I pledge another four inches of hair growth, I’ll be trapped under the Mommy helmet, wearing the duck boots, holding the L.L. Bean tote bag.
This isn’t entirely about hair, I suppose. Anything that incessantly reminds me of my mom-ness, robs me of a bit of Britt-ness. In my mind, I’m swinging my little skirts all over town, brightening mundane errands with witty zingers and a hair toss. When completely preoccupied with mom duties, I forget to look in the mirror. I once spent an entire day with a gummy apple affixed to the butt of my unflattering jeans. (No one told me… because dowdy mommies with small children are invisible.) When entirely–gleefully!– busy with the exhilarating and exasperating day to day doings of small boys, I am fulfilled and smart and brimming with love and gratitude. But, for me, these moments, no matter how sweet, don’t Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman. Only a swish of long hair, a full glass of bubbly, and a child-free evening in expensive shoes has me seconding that emotion.
Back in college we used to tease Jason that he was “living his hair.” Freshman year, Jason had the cascading ringlets of a mall-lingering girl wearing neon.
Jason was loud and always singing and loud and playful and loud and brilliant and loud. LOUD. Even his hair was loud… all red and curly and all over the place. But by senior year, Jason had mellowed a bit, now a Phi Beta Kappa Philosophy major, New York Times tucked under one arm, a cup of black coffee, up all night in the computer center, punctuating his deep thoughts with scotch breaks. It was time for Jason’s hair to match, so he engaged a gaggle of girls to tame his mane in a pictorial that now looks a bit drunk and hedonistic… just like Jason. (In fact, I’m reluctant to post it here even with his permission. Never has a haircut looked so… naughty.)
Today, Jason is shave-it-all bald, sporting only a yarmulke as his head coordinates with the self-discipline of his Orthodox Jewish faith. Jason is the very passionate director of a theatre company, all serious and successful, and now his hair matches this.
Unlike Jason, I’m not living my hair. I’m nostalgic for the locks I lost instead of embracing the evidence that I’ve made it this far. This isn’t to say my hair isn’t fabulous. Oh, it is. At the airport a few months ago, a woman sidled up sort of embarrassed with her odd request: could she take my picture? She wanted her stylist to see my hair. She wanted my haircut… as if this were a real, on purpose, not cancerous feat of fashion. I let her snap 360° iPhone images of my head, and when she left, Teddy had a theory.
“Do you think one of your friends told her we were here? And that she should say that? So you feel good? I think that’s nice.”
It was nice, but my boys couldn’t quite believe that someone wanted to look like this. Because this hair still haunts us with memories of why it’s not long. This hair, this mom hair, is blonde and adorable and ready for its close up. But I’m not loving (or living) it. I’m growing the hair that matches the girl in the swinging skirt, the one who has shelved the terror, the one who is ready for a mighty fine time. (Because we always had a mighty fine time.)