My hair never looked so good as when I was pregnant. It had grown out from the bad-breakup-short-haircut-I-gave-myself, and it hung to my waist. My halo of frizz was gone; each curl was shiny and healthy. For almost a year, instead of losing a disgusting wad of hair with each shower, each follicle clung to its hair. I got a few new grey strands, but overall it was a good hair year. Having long hair again, like I had my whole childhood in Maine, felt like a return to my relaxed, rural self.
And then, a few months into motherhood, I looked up from the diapers and nap times and milestones and board books and realized that my hair was driving me up the wall. It had started falling out, for one. My morning routine was taking hours, and all I was doing was finger combing in a curl definer and letting it dry by itself. The feeling of my hair on my back was exacerbating a strange sensory overload I experienced when I nursed. And of course, my darling daughter was yanking it out by the handful.
I wanted a haircut, something up to my chin, perhaps. Some easy, wash and wear style that would be ready to go quickly in the morning.
I wanted… Mom Hair?
Mom Hair has such a dowdy connotation. It’s not edgy, it’s not romantic, it’s just a convenient way of organizing hair that’s a little more feminine than a buzz cut, which sounded pretty great to me in the middle of the night but I didn’t think I could pull off. I hemmed and hawed and ran it past my husband and sister.
“There’s a reason for Mom Hair,” my sister rationalized. “Otherwise, why would so many moms have it?” I Googled “short curly hair styles” and was annoyed at how few of the hairdos seemed to be for naturally curly hair like mine. I took the plunge and made an appointment for the day after Thanksgiving. We’d be on the mainland, up at my parents’ place, and my dad and sister’s hair stylist was willing to come in especially for me.
I showed her a few pictures, one of Marion Cotillard with soft waves around her face and a side part, and one of me from ten years ago with shaggy curls down to my chin. “Something like these,” I said. “It has to be wash and wear, really simple to take care of. And not too Mom Hair.” She laughed. She has two kids and doesn’t have Mom Hair.
She cut off nine inches from the bottom and laid it in front of the mirror bound in elastics. I thought I might donate it. I looked at it in front of me, dry corkscrew curls lightened by the sun. Like rings on a tree I thought I might be able to see what kind of a year it had been when those hairs started growing. Was that the year we bought our house? The year we got married? When I was pregnant, were those hairs just at mid-back and not yet down to my waist? She cut layers aligned to my side part, framing my face with curls. I already felt renewed, lighter. She rubbed oil through the ends of my hair and dried it with a diffuser, allowing the curls to spring naturally around my face. I couldn’t stop grinning at myself in the mirror.
I am a Mom. This is my hair. It feels springy and light, not dowdy. It’s not edgy or romantic, but it’s a lot easier to take care of. It’s not falling out in clumps any more, and Penrose grabs it sometimes but it slips out of her hands before she can really yank. The nervousness I felt planning my haircut was a microcosm of the anxiety I felt about becoming a mom. That I would lose the part of myself that plays music, or serves on the ambulance crew, that I wouldn’t be able to garden or run or teach my Pilates class. But I can do those things, albeit on a modified schedule, and be a mom, and I can have a haircut I like that’s healthy looking and convenient to take care of.
So, mission accomplished–Mom Hair can be great!