The words of reason poured from my daughter, Grace, as she explained to me why, after almost eight years of growing her hair long, fighting every trim and being furious with me for suggesting she cut it short, she’s decided to get it cut, really short.
Grace has long, luxurious hair. She gets it from her daddy. As a baby, her hair was curly and cute but, as she’s grown, it has gotten full and wild. She has the kind of hair that falls over one eye and produces a look entirely inappropriate for her age. It would, in a few more years, have the boys crying and the girls hating. She knows it, too.
The reasonable mom in me has wished for a while that she would have it cut. The upkeep has been exhausting and entirely my job. Grace is not a prissy child. She refuses to be bothered with things like brushing her teeth, can’t understand why she should wear the clean jeans instead of her favorite ones, refuses to wear socks even when it’s 15 degrees out, and can never take the time to stop and brush her hair because, she reasons, “it’ll only get tangled again.”
I know to pick my battles. I allow natural consequences on the sock issue and bite my tongue on Day 3 of the same jeans. But on the issues of teeth and hair brushing, I don’t give. I nag about the teeth and end up brushing her hair myself -- starting at the ends, working my way up, getting it smooth and silky…for a few minutes at least.
Then Grace’s friend Avery got her long, gorgeous red hair cut and donated her pony tail to Locks of Love. Grace researched the program and, after some reflection, announced that she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love, too.
I was shocked.
With confidence beyond what an 8 year old should have, she told me, “God blessed me with all this hair, and there are kids out there who are sick and can’t grow their hair. There’s no reason I can’t give them my hair for a wig. I’ll grow more.”
As my coworker Stefan Cooper said, “You sure can’t argue with THAT!”
No, I couldn’t argue, but I wanted to. I was thrilled to say good-bye to the hair brushing fights, but I also felt a strange sadness. In some sick way, I knew I’d miss brushing that hair, and I was also afraid she’d regret her decision and there would be tears.
In truth, it was more than that. It just took a few days for me to figure out what was bothering me.
I made her appointment with the only person I would trust to do this. LeeAnne Henry, my longtime friend and the owner of Professional Hair Designs and More, said bring her in Wednesday after school.
Tuesday night, I told Grace she could change her mind and no one would think a thing of it. We’d understand, and we would always be proud of her, no matter what. She looked at me like I was crazy.
The haircut went wonderfully. During the entire process Grace’s big sister, Tara, offered an amazing show of sisterly support and encouragement. Several ladies at the studio trekked in to see the cut in progress and offered kind words. LeeAnne spoke of how proud she was of Grace. I reveled in how terrific everyone said my children are. Yes, they are special. Yes, they are beautiful. Yes, yes, I know, and thank you so much.
LeeAnne cut 11 inches of ponytail and gave Grace the most adorable style. It frames her sweet, round face beautifully. While taking a series of “after” pictures, I was overcome by how cute she is and wanted a hug from my snuggly little girl.
I held out my arms in a gesture that normally would have resulted in a huge hug. But, this time, she didn’t do that. I was the one moving and hugging, and she…pushed herself away.
Oh, yes. I remembered this feeling. I went through it a few years ago with Tara. In a very short time my role had changed from mommy of a little girl to mother and confidant for a young lady in the midst of figuring out fourth grade, friends, horses and boys, thankfully, in that order. I adjusted to it easily because I still had my little Grace. But, apparently, that is changing.
I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. Tara looked worried and asked if I was ok.
I was caught off-guard as my baby grew up a little that day. She made a huge decision, and she made it, not me.
We left the studio, and, for the first time ever, Grace didn’t reach back to hold my hand as we walked. It felt weird. I watched her skip along, flipping her hair back and forth and talking nonstop. Then I realized Tara was beside me, holding my hand. I looked at her, and she smiled at me.
So, now both of my girls are growing up. That’s okay, they are still my girls and even though our relationship has and will continue to change, I’ll roll with it, I’ll adjust. I’ll be okay with that.