I woke up one Saturday with the desperate urge to get my hair done. It had only been six months – I am terrible about not scheduling regular hair appointments, especially when most of the time, my hair is pulled up in a ponytail on top of my head.
I took off with my child, who was more desperate for a haircut than I was. He looked like he needed to be on an album cover with some dudes named Ringo and George.
Hours later, we looked like two different people. You could actually see my child’s eyes and ears now and my grays were replaced with coppery highlights.
“You did what to your hair?” was Mama’s response when I told her how Cole and I had spent the day.
“I got the layers trimmed and had some coppery, light auburn highlights put in. It’s so nice to have my hair done, Mama,” I answered.
She gave her “hrrrrmph” of a grunt.
“Why in the world did you go and do that?” she asked.
“Because my hair looked awful.”
She made her grunt of disapproval again. “I think that is silly. I don’t know why you color your hair.”
“I like having my hair colored,” I said defensively. “It looks better.”
“No, it does not,” she said. “You should leave your hair alone and leave it the way God made it.”
When I was younger, it seemed like I was the only girl with dark hair in a sea of glorious blondes. I would cut out yellow construction paper and tape them to pictures of myself throughout the house, wondering how I would look as a blonde. I was in my late 30’s before I ever colored my hair and I loved it. Streaks of caramel, deep cherry and other decadent sounding colors were swirled into my hair. Mama hated them all.
Then one winter day, my hair was chopped off and dyed a flaming red. I felt like Jean Gray from “The X-Men.” Mama nearly had a seizure when she saw it.
As I was mentally strolling through the menagerie of all my hair colors, Mama had droned on about my hair and how she thought I was silly, ridiculous and a variety of negative words. “I don’t know why you do that silliness. I wouldn’t do it.”
“Oh, I know you wouldn’t, Mama,” I interjected. “But I don’t know why you care so much what I do with my hair. It is my hair, after all. You used to get so furious when Granny used to tell you to just try to drag a comb through yours. You hated whenever Granny said anything about your choices – so why do you do that to me?”
She was silent.
I was right.
“Just because that is your preference and opinion, you can keep it to yourself. I like my hair highlighted and if you keep it up, it will be bright fuchsia next time.”
It will. It will be fuchsia or purple or I will take Cole’s suggestion and shave it into a Mohawk.
Surely I am not the only one who goes through that with their mother? Those circumstances where the umbilical cord is still attached and the boundaries are hazy.
Where just because that is what your mama would do is what she expects you – her daughter, her child, her son – to do as well.
Mama has told me countless times how I needed to “get a job with benefits, a retirement package and a union” like she had. I’ve told her those jobs don’t exist anymore.
She’s worried, criticized and been downright angry about a lot of my choices and decisions. I don’t know if it is because of anything I did or if it was just because it wasn’t what she would have done.
Surely, she knows I am my own person. Right?
Cole was in deep explanation about his Minecraft game to me one day, as I listened but didn’t really understand completely what he was telling me. Usually, he’s telling me something a little bit more high tech than I can follow, so I smile and nod and encourage him to continue, just hoping he is not uploading videos of me sleeping to YouTube.
“Do you even know what I am talking about?” he asked, seeing my eyes glaze over like doughnuts.
“Honestly, baby, no, but I am listening.”
He frowned. “You don’t like this do you? But aren’t you supposed to like it?” he said.
“Cole, it’s fine if I don’t understand or even like it – if you do. I have an interest in it simply because you enjoy it, but it’s not something I will be doing on my own,” I explained.
He still wasn’t so sure. “So we don’t have to like the same things?”
“And what if you don’t like the same things I do?”
“Do you like the same things I like? Honestly -do you like watching ‘NCIS’ reruns all weekend or makeup shopping? No. And that’s fine. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
“And you won’t be upset because it’s not what you like? You won’t think I am dumb for liking something you don’t? Or doing something you don’t like to do?”
“Absolutely not,” I told him. “It’s fine, baby, perfectly fine.”
If anything, it’s the way it is supposed to be. And no one knows that better than I do.