Throwback Thursday: Divalocks

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Happy Thursday!

My decision to shed my relaxed hair has me thinking about how my perception of hair affected my self esteem. I remembered a post from 2006 I wrote right after a failed attempt to grow my hair past ear length.

It’s interesting to see how things change. Back then, I LOVED short hair. I felt most like myself when my hair was shaved at the nape. Seven years later, my hair is past my shoulders, and I feel more like myself than ever. It’s not the length of my hair that matters these days. I finally got the message that my hair doesn’t define me. I do.

I know. India Arie tried to tell us that right around the time I wrote the post. I’m just a slow learner, I guess. Marriage, motherhood (again), my mom’s stroke, changes at work, and marriage (Did I say that twice?) have changed my views on what makes me who I am.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I still want my hair to be right. But “right” is whatever I’m feeling at the moment, and “right” is something totally different for the next person. It is after all, only hair.

 

Divalocks – February 22, 2006

There are two movies that come to mind when I think of long hair. The first one is The Color Purple. Young Celie was just wed to the evil Mister and had to pick out his daughter’s matted hair because it hadn’t been combed since his first wife died. Mister told Celie not to cut the girls tangled mop, then slapped his bride for refusing to quiet the screaming child.

The second is Waiting to Exhale. Bernie (Angela Bassett) had just found out that her husband was leaving her for a white woman. After a week-long stint in bed, she walked into her friend’s salon and demanded the shortest haircut imaginable. “Are you crazy?” the friend yelled.

“If you don’t do it, I’ll cut it my damn self!” Bernadette grabbed the scissors and chopped off a plug of two-foot long hair.

Those movies scenes don’t appear to have anything in common, but for me, they clarified the relationship between hair and self-esteem. I can’t think of too many women who feel good about themselves while sporting a jacked up hairstyle. And I am no exception. When my hair isn’t to my liking, I don’t feel quite like myself. I’m a little grumpier in the mornings. Outfits don’t seem to look right.

The two women in those movies had an even deeper connection to hair. They allowed their characters to be defined by someone else, specifically men. The Exhale scene was hard for me to watch the first time because I was dating someone who believed that short hair was a practically a sin. That clown would check my hair every time I came from the salon to see if my stylist had trimmed it any.

When I decided to cut my hair seven years ago, my hairstylist’s reaction was similar to the one in the movie. “Are you sure?” she asked. After I answered the question several more times, she opened the drawer at her station and pulled out the scissors.

“Wait! You can’t cut your hair,” a customer cried. “Lisa, wait. Let me talk to her for a minute.” I can’t remember the customer’s face. I was too busy trying not to lose my nerve.

“No waiting,” I said. “Cut.”

“You’ll be sorry,” he said.

“I doubt it,” I replied. “Cut.”

The customer stared in disbelief as Lisa cut my hair down to two inches. By the time she pulled out the clippers to taper the hair at the nape of my neck, he decided that he couldn’t take anymore. He declared me a fool and left the salon.

When Lisa turned the styling chair around to show me my reflection that day, there were no regrets. I was introduced to the real me.

I’ve toyed with growing my hair out from time to time, but the result was always the same. I would cut it before it grew to my ears. This past year, however, my hair made it to my chin. Lisa styled it into smooth bob. It reminded me of Dorothy Hamill.

There were things about longer hair that I had forgotten. For one, it sheds. A lot. I had to clean the sink out every morning after combing my hair. And the bathroom floor was a mess. I later remembered that my college roommate and I had to sweep our dorm room every week because our hair shed so much.

Another thing that I had forgotten was how ridiculous long hair looks when it needs professional attention. Last week, my hair appointment was two weeks overdue. I felt like a wolf. No matter how much I brushed my hair or tried to tie it down with a scarf, it would look puffy. I felt as if I had stuck my hand on that static electricity ball at the Magic House.

The final straw was last Wednesday. A coworker came into my office to discuss a project. “Are you growing your hair out?” he asked. I nodded weakly. “It looks nice.”

I know that he was being kind, but I didn’t want compliments on something that I didn’t even like. As soon as he walked out of my office, I picked up the phone and made a hair appointment.

I walked into the salon Saturday morning. Lisa was a few minutes late. “How short do you want it?” she asked as she pulled out her supplies. “I want to lose at least half of this,” I said.

A few hours later, Lisa turned her chair around to show me my reflection. Two-thirds of my hair was on the floor, “Welcome back,” I said.

The past few days have been a lot easier. I haven’t had to clean the sink or sweep the bathroom floor. And I am still getting compliments.

“You cut your hair!” a co-worker said. “It’s awesome.”

“Thanks” I said.

“I know you were growing your hair out, but it really didn’t seem like you,” she said. “I like this a lot better.”

“Me, too,” I said.

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#TBT – Becoming Stepmom

In honor of Mothers Day, I’m pulling one of my favorite posts for Throwback Thursday. I wrote this about three and a half years ago after my husband’s son came to visit us. I proudly wore the badge of motherhood, but until that visit, I never thought of myself as a stepparent. The week D spent with us reminded me that motherhood is a journey of varied paths, and I just so happened to be traveling on two at the same time.

Original post date: December 29, 2010
Post Title: 16 and 6 

It’s been a wonderful holiday season so far. And, true to form, I got so busy that I forgot to blog about it! Here’s one of the highlights:

My husband’s 16-year-old son came to visit us for the first time. Even though I knew of D’s existence, I never thought of myself as a stepmom. I wanted my husband to spend more time with his son, and I wanted our daughter to know her brother, but I hadn’t factored myself into the equation. Plus, the drama behind it all had gone on for so long that I thought D would be an adult by the time we finally met.

So when the prospect of blending our family became a reality rather than a theory, I was a nervous wreck. “Just be yourself,” Hubby said. “It’ll be great!”

I tried to share Hubby’s optimism, but I couldn’t shake the underlying fear that I’d somehow turn out to be the Wicked Stepmother. Could I ask him to do dishes without appearing to be a power-crazed meanie?

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. D is a great kid, and he has the same kind and optimistic demeanor as his dad. Plus, his little sister wrapped him around her baby finger. He was playing Barbies and promising to bake cookies within 10 minutes of his arrival. That girl’s got skills, I must admit.

After prying my daughter off of D’s leg and putting her to bed, I had a chance to talk with him alone. Hubby went to bed early, exhausted from working late hours. D was eating some baked chicken he found in the fridge. (Note: Teenage boys eat A LOT. Plan on doubling your grocery bill.)

“Do you have any rules I should know about?” he asked.

“Don’t drink my club soda,” I said. “I can’t really think of anything else right now.”

D nodded, and he then proceeded to tell me how he had been looking forward to this visit.

“It was really bothering me that I have a sister, and I don’t know her,” he said. “It’s been bothering me for a while.” He licked his fingers. “This is good chicken, by the way.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’m glad you’re here. You’re welcome anytime.”

And that was it. All the nervousness melted away.

A few days later, I gave Hubby a hug as he was watching the kids put together a puzzle.

“You’ve got two kids,” I said. “How does it feel?”

“Feels good,” he said. “You know, you’ve got two kids too.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

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Late-Night Blues

It’s 11:35, and normally, I wouldn’t panic. But my baby has been taking short naps ALL DAY, and she hasn’t truly been awake since this morning. This means our evening is just beginning. Joy.

So what’s a girl to do in the wee hours? I’d like to finish this book I started reading, but turning on a reading light will only prolong an already too-long night. Maybe I’ll just rent a movie and turn on closed captioning.

Big Sister Blues

My seven year old has been in “Big Sister” mode ever since she found out I was pregnant. She’s weighed in on decor, inspected every item of clothing, and made a birthday card that read “Happy 5th Birthday, Baby!” As to why she skipped birthdays one – four, I have no idea.

E’s enthusiasm remained steady after little sister arrived. She volunteers to help with diaper changes and baths, and she’s ready to entertain whenever the baby is awake.

I’ve come to rely on her excitement and independence. Perhaps a little too much. I’m still working on balancing the needs of a school-age kid and a newborn.

Last night, my eldest made that all to clear. After pouting though most of the evening, I asked her what was bothering her:

“A is more important than me.”

I know such feelings are normal when a new baby comes home, but I was completely caught off guard.

“Why do you feel that way?” I asked?

“You only take care of me when it’s time for dinner. You’re with A all the time.”

I took a deep breath and said a quick prayer for inspiration. The Cosby Show came to mind.

We talked about how the baby can’t do things like get dressed or feed
herself, but that E can. She knows how to choose outfits for school, make her own bed, and pour cereal for breakfast. These were things she couldn’t do when she was younger. So she needed my help then, just like A needs my help now. Needing me less doesn’t mean I love less. It just means she’s growing up.

“Yah Seven!” (Cosby Show Reference)

E feels better, but I’m not sure I do. I know it will take time for me to get the hang of things. I will try not to beat myself up too much. The baby’s doing enough of that already. I wrote most of this post at midnight.

Late-Night Ramblings

It’s 1:17 am. My nose is running, I’m covered in spit up, and I’m afraid to move. My newborn girl is lying across my lap, snoring gently.

This was a hard-fought battle. Two hours of nursing, burping and ssshh-ing have led to this moment. And one wrong move could ruin it all. Tapping out this post is the only thing keeping me awake so I don’t blow it.

It’s times like this that my mind wanders and I totally lose my cool. What the heck was I thinking to have a baby at this point in my life? I had it pretty good. My oldest daughter is 7, so I was well past diapers, breast feelings and sleepless lunacy.

But now that our battle is over (for now), I once again fall in love with my girl’s angelic face. I wonder how she will change each day, and I look forward to watching her discover the world.

Now, if only I could get her into this bassinet. My day would be so much better if I could greet it after a few hours sleep.