The last time I had a haircut was August. The last time I had it professionally colored was October of 2010. You are welcome to envision something akin to the bride of Frankenstein’s monster. That is mostly accurate (minus the Marge Simpson beehive height).
As a teenager I was lavishly spoiled by my mom, perhaps not in the conventional “I had a Mercedes and a closet full of insert your favorite designer here clothes”, but certainly in things like tanning bed visits and hair-apy.
Oh, the hair I had in high school. It changed color and length more times than I can count. And I loved changing my hair, from wheat blonde to red and white stripes to black and brown with pink streaks. Sometimes it was to the middle of my back, and the next week the tips of my hair would be at my jaw. That’s not to say it was always traditionally “beautiful” Victoria’s Secret hair, but the act of changing it was fun enough for me. And if I didn’t like the end product? Meh. It grew quickly enough for that to be a non-issue.
Fast forward ten thousand years to pregnancy, and I started having “Cousin It” style growth. Seriously, my hair must have grown an inch a month. It is still growing at that rate. My shoulder sweeping hair cut from August has now grown to hair that sits well below my shoulder blades. The color now more closely resembles Joseph’s technicolor dream coat than natural hair color. There must be at least seven different shades in there, ranging from blonde to black and everything in between.
What, you ask, does this have to do with sacrifice or being a human cow?
When I refer to myself as a human Bessie, it isn’t really about the weight any more (I now have 12ish pounds left to drop, and most of that has to stay on during nursing anyway), but more about the fact that between pumping and nursing and being covered in milk spots, I feel like I should have a bell around my neck.
You see, kiddies, once upon a time, I took care of my appearance. Captain Laster Pants saw my University of MN student ID card and exclaimed, “Look at how pretty you are in this picture!” I had on my very cute winter car coat, a cheery red scarf, lip gloss, perfectly applied makeup and glossy, straight hair with gorgeous highlights. My cheeks were pink from the cold of the winter, and my smile indicates innocence and excitement.
For fun, I held this picture up to my image in the mirror this morning. The two females with identical DNA are wholly different.
As new mothers we are expected to forgo beauty salons, pedicures, tanning booths and fun cocktail dresses because there is a tiny human being dependent upon us for literally every aspect of his existence. As a new mom, I’m probably supposed to do this with graciousness and selflessness. I do adore my gorgeous little boy who never stops crying (I suspect he has silent gerd, which we will find out tomorrow if that’s true), and I do cater to his every need (sometimes with more enthusiasm, sometimes with less, like at 3 AM). I am biologically wired, both mentally and physically, to want to nourish him from my body, hold him when he cries, and delight in his every smile.
But, my life is not a Pampers commercial. It is not easy and through a soft focus lens with a gentle narration and soothing musical montage. It is raw, with challenges, with hourly defeats and successes. Every feeding is a challenge unlike any race I’ve run or test I’ve taken. Will nursing hurt us both this time? Will he get what he needs before he starts thrashing and crying, injuring me in the process? Breast feeding is more emotionally draining than a break up. And it has to happen every three hours. When this is reality, putting on makeup and styling hair to be beautiful seem like distant fantasies, right up there with sprouting wings or having super powers. Being pretty is nonessential to the survival of my son and myself.
It would sure be an emotional espresso, though.
So we sacrifice who we once were, or at least how we once presented ourselves, for the greater good of our posterity. We shaves our legs once a month because a three minute shower is all we can sneak into our day.
And love- true, unconditional, selfless love- is what fuels us through our days. If I was without it, from and for Captain Laser Pants and for my precious little Fox, I would have broken down months ago. In a world today where how you present yourself matters more than who you actually are, this love is sustaining.
In a few years I’m sure I’ll see the inside of a spa again. At least, I hope to God I do. In the mean time, I’m going to thank my mom for sacrificing for me the way I am sacrificing now for my son. And I ask that you thank your mom soon, too. We never truly understand the importance of their love and the work they poured into us until we ourselves become parents.