The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The First Cut is the Deepest

For the most part, I consider my childhood a happy one. Like most, I'd imagine, there are a few painful or embarrassing moments that I'd like to forget. But even those have factored in to who I am today and since I'm fairly contented with the woman I've become, I've long since accepted those things as kind of necessary evils. Overall, I think I'm happy remembering the way things were. I do have one exception, though.

One completely emotional, totally irrational, moment that still kind of nags at me. And it happened when I was five. If there's any genetics to it at all, I'd like to qualify that statement by saying that my dad's side of the family is NOTORIOUS for holding grudges. So, you know, it's not my fault.

My sister and I are 12 1/2 months apart in age. Growing up, that always seemed fairly close, but you don't realize what that means until you are the parent raising those children. There are lovely stories of me "stealing" my sister's bottles from her and that, because I was so good at it, my mother had to wean us together. The obvious two babies in diapers (which I lived through myself as a mother), too. The extraordinary amount of work that two small children put on you. And my mother and father both had full-time jobs in addition to parenting. So, I know they were scrambling for ten minutes to themselves. And not having much luck getting it.

I know this because I've been there, too. I worked full-time when my two oldest (who are 18 months apart) were little and it's bad. It's very, very bad. Large parts of that time are blurry in my mind and I believe my body went on some kind of auto-pilot mode because I wasn't sleeping much, I'm sure.

And, just as I know those things, I know that you have to cut corners. You don't vacuum as much as you should (and with cats you really should). And you don't always get the healthiest food choices, because you need something that's already cooked or will be ready to put on the table in 15 minutes. You feel guilty as hell about the environment, but you keep buying (and using) disposable diapers. But you have to get through one more day, the best way you can. And you just keep hoping that tomorrow will be an easier one.

As things ease up, like first one child, and then the other, getting potty-trained, and they begin playing together and entertaining each other for 20-30 minute stretches, you begin to come back to the world. You begin to see that there may be hope that you will ever have any semblance of life again. It's a very good thing. Because, I'm just not very good at slacking on my kids. I just take that shit WAY too seriously. I have fun with them and we have a great relationship, but I know it's in large part because they know, and have always known, that they come first.

My older girls have finally gotten to the point where they will push me to do more things for myself and will (quite literally) cheer my personal non-mom accomplishments because they know where all my energies have been directed for the past ALMOST seventeen years. That's nice.

Now, my own mother was also rather devoted to us kids. And she didn't have many hobbies or outside interests. But, she wasn't quite as bothered about short-cuts involving her kids. It's one of those short-cuts that remains a hurtful memory to me some 37 years later. And it's one that I have adamently refused to level on my children no matter how much easier it might have ultimately made my life.

I have thick, curly brown hair. And as I child I wore it long. My sister had thin, stick-straight, slightly lighter brown hair, which she also wore long. And my mom dealt with listening to us whine as she combed it, and the extra work involved with washing it and styling it. At least she did for a while. When I was five, my mom decided, and let me add that she made this decision completely independent of any input from me or my sister, that it was simply too time-consuming for us to have long hair.

So we were loaded into the car and taken to a beauty shop, where the stylist proceeded to cut my hair (which was, at that time, more than midway down my back) into a pixie style cut. For those of you who are uninitiated (and my bet is that it's mostly the fellas), here's a picture of a pixie cut. It's a pretty dramatic difference from what I started with. I cried. I pleaded with the stylist not to do it. I was mad at my mother for weeks afterwards. It was traumatic in the strictest sense of the word.

Now I realize it was a haircut, not civil war surgery. Okay. I get it. I do. And I have had five year olds in my house, three times now in fact, and I don't let them always have the final say in what happens to them. But I swear to you, deeply and profoundly, that if any of my children had ever begged me, as hard as I begged that day, I would have had to stop and re-evaluate how much letting them have their way would affect things.

As soon as I was able to take on the responsibility of washing and brushing my own hair (which was pretty darn soon afterwards), I grew it back out. Probaby in part as an "in your face" kind of thing to my mother, but certainly because I LIKED my hair long. And I felt she had no right to take that from me. And it still hurts today.

My own girls have each worn their hair long. When [Kid 1] came to me (as an 8 year old) and said she wanted to get her haircut, I wouldn't let her. How funny is that? Basically, doing the same thing as my mother...only in reverse. See how this stuff affects your kids? After I calmed down and tried to see her point a couple days later, I gave in and she got her long locks cut to just above her shoulders. She looked adorable and she was so happy with it. I couldn't understand it. I was sure she'd be just as devastated as I was.

I keep forgetting that they aren't me sometimes when these parallels happen. And she'd really, really wanted it. Which is, in essence, the difference. Having her look so much like me at that age, certainly didn't help me deal with it, either. But, we got through it. I cried. But I tried not to do it in front of her. My demons certainly don't need to be hers. She's wearing it long again now. I'm glad. She looks great with the longer hair and some part of me feels comfort there.

When [Kid 2] did the same thing, it was a little easier. I reminded her that it would take a LONG time to grow back out. But, when she got hers cut (and she went for a boy cut...AUGH!!!), she looked great. She really DOES look so much better with short hair. It was difficult for me to accept, but I was getting better at it.

Last week, [Kid 3], my six year old, came to me and said she wanted to get her long wavy blond locks cut off. And, those feelings just came reeling back at lightning speed. I tried, without pushing, to talk her out of it. But she was excited about it. And, so, reluctantly, I agreed. As she sat in the chair, giggling and chatting up the stylist, I kept tearing up. Trying not to, as I didn't want her to see that, but the nervous nausea was making keeping control tougher and tougher.

She got it cut to about her upper shoulder blades (we'd talked about it beforehand and I went over it with the stylist before he started). I suppose they took off about eight inches in all. She looks great. And she loves it.

This morning, I dropped her off at the daycare like I usually do. One of her little friends met her as she was hanging up her jacket, and was touching her hair. She said, "Oh [Kid3], you got your hair cut. It looks SOOOO cute!!" My girl was beaming. And I found that I was, too.

I wonder, sometimes, if I'll ever get beyond that long ago hurt. And then I think, "nah...I'll still be doing it when the grandbabies get their hair cut." There are no bandaids for some ouchies. And, sometimes, I guess they never completely heal. The trick must be not to spread it. At least, I think that's the trick.


Blogger T. said...

My mother gave me a bowl cut when I was ten. I am still angry.

4/24/2006 4:38 PM  
Blogger Carmichael said...

i had the same experience when i was a kid. my mom liked my hair short - i wanted it long. ironically, i have chosen more often to have a short style as an adult. but i DID get my revenge and wear it REAL long in college!

i'm sure your daughter looks great.

4/24/2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Don't you know that kids only want what Mom says "no" to?

My mother wouldn't let me cut my hair. I could sit on my pony tail, and have the disgusting memory of my hair going in the toilet when I was 5.

At 6, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I wanted bangs.

Oh, I paid for that haircut.

I finally got it cut short in 7th grade. My mom still has the pony tail.

My kid has frizzy/kinky hair that doesn't grow long very well. She wants long hair more than almost anything (I say almost, because she doesn't want it enough to actually take care of it!)

4/25/2006 10:32 AM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

T -

Thanks for stopping by! And I feel entirely vindicated!! I'm glad I'm not the only one nursing that grudge!!

Carmichael -

I wore mine long in college, too. And not long after cut it just above my shoulders and that's where it's been ever since. Ironically, I've been trying to grow it out a little more over the last couple years, but it's not making much progress at all. It just keeps curling up. If I flat-ironed it, it would probably be to my shoulder blades.

Julia -

We never had a meeting at all!! She didn't ask. She just loaded us up and did it. We didn't even know where we were going until we got there. It was AWFUL!!

4/25/2006 11:17 AM  

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