Reader Essay I need a haircut. My 5-year-old son has recently learned how to maneuver his arms so that his hands dive in the direction of his interest. And his fingers, those miraculous little appendages, flex and close with a grip so tight that he rivals a grown man trying to open a pickle jar.
My hair has been clogging the drain for years now (my doctor assures me this is normal after giving birth) and Oliver, with his death grip, has actually removed chunks at a time. Large handfuls. He yanks, pulls, giggles and slurps until he finds his mouth. He doesn’t understand the word "no" and I don’t know how to braid or bun. My long, straight, subtly highlighted hair, which used to follow every Jennifer Aniston-spawned trend, is now a constant pain.
I am desperate. I want it gone. I need to childproof my head.
My best friend, Torrey, says she can’t let me do it. She won’t let me get my hair cut short. "You are 27 and you don’t need a mom cut," she says.
She is passionate and convincing. I reconsider, change my mind, and then realize, yes, I am 27, and yes, I am a mom.
Making way for baby
When my husband and I became pregnant and prepared to welcome our baby, I realized that my life would change forever. We got ready. During pregnancy, we transitioned out of the Wrigleyville bar scene. Our friends went out on weekends while we rented movies and gave each other foot rubs. We took the train instead of cabs and used the money we saved to buy a Baby Bjorn and a bunch of onesies. We got rid of our dining room table and made room for a rocking chair. Since then, we have altered our activities to fit nap schedules and nonsmoking sections. We stroll through museums, wander through the neighborhood. Oliver is in training to be the perfect coffee shop and bookstore baby.
We made a choice. And even though we now consider 7 a.m. sleeping in, we can’t go see a movie on a whim and the ease and pleasure of any public outing is hit or miss, we are loving life with our little boy.
On Halloween, Torrey begs me to go to a party with her. She tells me, "You can go out until midnight and then get nine hours of sleep before you go to church."
I laugh as only a mother can. I’m in on the joke that my single, non-maternally disposed friends do not yet understand. Yes, I could go out until midnight and not turn into a pumpkin. But I’d be up at 3 a.m. to breastfeed and then again at 6 a.m. when Oliver begins his day.
Going out for Halloween is no longer as simple as a party invite and a chicken costume. And, had I gone with a newly short haircut, would I have needed a costume or would people have assumed I was disguised as a mom?
Moms—and a whole lot more
Unfortunately, when clusters of ladies hover around the playground, some assume they are only capable of talking about toilet training or favorite recipes. When I sit in a coffee shop, baby sleeping in stroller, people look twice when I pull Dostoevsky out of the diaper bag.
Mothers and non-mothers alike slip into the assumption that the love for your own offspring takes over your life. Assumptions are made about women who are mothers and who passionately love their children, single-handedly command entire households and are alive to the world around them. Women who are whole.
A woman I met in a mom’s group just finished an Iron Man Triathlon, her short bob shaking the whole way. My sister-in-law cut off her hair on her son’s first birthday and has been wearing a pixie cut since. She donated six inches of soft, auburn locks to cancer patients in need of wigs. My mother has worn her hair just below her chin for my entire life. She is a poet and accomplished pianist. My grandmother raised five children, knows how to drive a tractor and makes the best peach pie in the world. She not only keeps her hair short around her head, but permed as well. They are sophisticated, beautiful and brainy women who are also mothers. It takes intelligence to be a mother, a thinking mother, and I am proud to have joined the ranks.
So what do I tell my hair stylist, Tim, at Lather Salon? I tell him I need a haircut, several inches, please. Short enough to require less attention and be less attractive to my son’s strong and curious hands, but long enough to toss coyly over my shoulder or shake playfully in a fit of sexy passion.
I’m 27 and just had a baby. I’m learning the secrets of motherhood and proudly inching toward the mom cut.
Leslie Klipsch is a mother and writer living in Chicago with her husband, Jake, and their son, Oliver. This essay originally appeared in Chicago Baby.
This article appeared in the
edition of Archives.
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