Looking Back, Living Forward On Mother’s Day

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I think I was in the sixth grade when it happened.

At some point along the line, the bathtub faucet in our one-bathroom house became unusable. Don’t ask me why. Kids don’t pay attention to details like that. We also have no idea why the decision was made not to fix it right away. I mean, it was fixed–we had a working bathtub–but the faucet had two spigots, a hot and a cold, not one that blends the two. In my childhood home, hair washing was always done by leaning back under the faucet.

So for whatever that period of time was between the faucet failure and the official refinishing of the one bathroom, we washed our hair in the kitchen sink. Tip the head forward, the blood running to the brain, long hair shedding into the strainer in the bottom of the sink.

I hated it.

But I’ll tell you what I hated more: the day my mother came over and saw something that sent her over the edge. I don’t remember all the words, but it was something along the lines of what a shoddy job of washing your hair and if you can’t do it properly I’m doing it for you! I’m pretty sure I made that hair washing as miserable for her as she made it for me.

(Note: I’ve never, ever said the words “if you can’t do it properly I’m doing it for you” to my children. Never. I mean, maybe one or two thousand times.)

About two days later I was scheduled for a haircut, and with the memory of that scrubbing still scouring my ego, I told the stylist to CUT.IT.ALL.OFF.

And in half an hour I went from being a socially-awkward, early-developing girl with pretty, thick, long brown hair to a socially-awkward, early-developing girl with horrible, ugly, out-of control short curly brown hair. (Curls? Where did those CURLS come from? I don’t have curly hair! What does one DO with curly hair??????)

Kate 4 and 5 grade

BEFORE

Kate 6th grade

AFTER. It still gives me the heebeejeebies.

I was thinking of this episode last night as my daughter screamed at me while I attempted to (gently) clear the mixture of melted marshmallow, dark  chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs from the long strands around her face. Every hair brushing, hair washing, or hair “styling” in our house is guaranteed to contain at least one bloodcurdling scream. I think she does it out of habit now.

(Note: the term “styling” must be used very loosely, because, well, look at those pictures above. Any girl who can go in public looking like that for two years is not likely to be a great stylist of her daughter’s hair. And when said daughter’s hair is every bit as thick as her mother’s, but fine and straight instead of coarse and curly? Yow. It won’t stay in anything–ties, clips, hair bands, braids, bows, headbands–useless, one and all. She gets it in her food at every meal.)

Reflecting back while living forward brought me to a couple of profound realizations:

1. There’s a reason the Almighty, in His great wisdom, gave a woman like me three boys who don’t need their hair brushed at all, and only one girl.

2. My mother put up with a whole lot more crap than I ever gave her credit for.

Childhood leaves scars. Stupid scars, usually, petty and eye-roll worthy, but scars nonetheless. Parents usually take the blame at the time, and the kids usually forget to reassess once they get a bit older and wiser.

Fortunately, there is a divine justice built into the world. We blame our parents for everything bad that happens to us in childhood, and then we become parents ourselves, on a mission to ensure that our kids never experience the same thing. And we’re so focused on our own pressure points that we miss a couple dozen others, thus ensuring that our children, in turn, will blame us and vow that their kids will never…

Well, you get the idea.

Doesn’t that just make you all warm and fuzzy on Mother’s Day afternoon? 😉

Happy Mothers Day to my mother, my mother’s mother, my mother-in-law, my mother-in-law’s mother-in-law, and my friends. It’s time we all admit what a rock-star-worthy thing we’re doing here.

What "me" time after the kids go to bed looks like on a stormy night...

What “me” time after the kids go to bed looks like on a stormy night…

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4 thoughts on “Looking Back, Living Forward On Mother’s Day

  1. Jen K-M

    The last time I ever permed my hair was 7th grade. The reason? It id not go well. I still have memories of being called “Poodle Locks”.

  2. One of my Dad’s sayings was “As the kids get older, the parents get smarter”. When I gave the eulogy at his funeral, I used that phrase and talked about how smart my Dad was –he was smart enough to know…

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