(Number one in the series of ruminations on identity and motherhood)
My main reason for wanting to get pregnant was to get that shiny hair everyone talks about. Sure, baby, whatever, experiencing a magical transformation as life grows within me, bond with husband, propagation of my genetic material blah blah blah...but I wanted that shiny hair. Well, I didn't get it. My hair remained unchanged--a bit coarse, very eager to get frizzy on top at the slightest sign of humidity, increasingly grey with each passing day.
I am, however, getting that thing where your hair falls out after the birth of your child. And because my hair is waist length, having drifts of it everywhere is...what's the word...disgusting. It has also taken on an extra dull and brittle quality, a sort of straw-like texture.
Furthermore, Bun Bun manages to get her limbs caught in it multiple times a day. It's just the right length that her toes snag it when she's nursing, and sometimes while I'm untangling her toes, she'll manage to get a hand caught. And she's not even old enough to grab things yet.
So naturally I'm thinking about cutting it off. The thing is, I think seriously about cutting it once a year. It hasn't been short since I was sixteen, when I chopped it off myself. When my father came home from work he gently asked if I'd like some help straightening it out. You can imagine what a picture of beauty I was.
There are a few reasons I always end up deciding not to cut it. First, short hair has to be kept short, and usually by a professional. That sounds tedious. I can't see myself going to a salon regularly.
Second, hair is a statement of who you are. I don't know what my statement reads to others--probably something like I am hideous--but having long hair makes me feel a bit unconventional, a bit impractical. When I wear it down, people comment on it, and I find it gives me a sense of satisfaction. Something like: I may not be beautiful, but at least I have Interesting Hair.
I've always wondered whether I would cut my hair if I had a baby. Babies are notorious for hair pulling: even if you wear it up, they'll find a way to get you. Do I want to suffer endless hair pulling? It makes me see red to have my hair pulled...
But then I think about that prototypical mother with short, practical hair. Do you know the one I mean? The one who shows up in ads for cleaning products or frozen food, who has zero time for anything at all because she's so busy caring for her family? And real mothers with short, practical hair like to tell me how I'll be sure to cut mine off any day now, as it's just Too Much Work. I can imagine what they'd think if I were to say, But it's my expression of self! They'd think: There is no self, there is only Mom. If you think you have time for Interesting Hair, you're in for a rude awakening. Or else you're just not a very good mom, not willing to make sacrifices for your child.
I don't want to become that mother. She seems impatient with the very idea of her own existence. I think Bun Bun knows (or will eventually know, when her brain is less primitive) that I'd cut off any part of me, head included, if she needed me to. I also think ultimately it's better for Bun Bun if I try to keep my sense of self. Particularly if it gives her something to yank on.