Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Story in My Locks

I am reminded daily of the birth of my children when I look in the mirror, not because of stretch marks--though those surely still remain--but because of my hair. Thanks to my son, each time I comb it large handfuls fall out, wrapping around my fingers as I seek to detangle it. With my daughter I eventually lost half my volume--months of shedding culminating in a slowly growing crown of short hairs that mirrored the fuzzy growth of my daughter though a bit less socially acceptable. But a funny thing happened as it grew--it came in straight. As someone that has wrestled and made my peace with a head of thick, curly hair, this threw me for a loop--what was this? Is this my new normal? And thus my hair came to catch the persona of my life: new, different, unfamiliar. The stress of a newborn, the trials of postpartum anxiety and depression, the shift in hormones with a birth and breastfeeding: all of these likely played their part in my awkward hair growth. Yet as time progressed and I became acquainted with motherhood, my hair settled in as well, curling lightly once again, growing out from baby hairs to locks that fell around my face.

All of this came to light a couple months ago when I cut my hair shortly before giving birth to my son. It had been over a year since my last cut, and I had several inches cut off, creating a fresh layered look to elongate my ever round face. And when I looked in the mirror after washing it, I was struck by the curl that emerged, freed by the extra weight that dissipated when the inches were cut. But instead of the strongest curl being near the base of my hair where it was the lightest, it was near my head with the fresh growth. The bottom few inches were barely waves and awkwardly hanging beneath the peppy curl higher up. This last evidence of one of the hardest years of my life causes me to pause on a regular basis. The stretch marks from that first pregnancy have long since faded. My body has lost weight, carried another pregnancy and gathered more stretch marks to tell of my son's gestation. This transition has been easier for any number of reasons, not the least of which being I knew what to expect. He sleeps better, cries less, eats well and is generally such a happy child. Part of this is undoubtedly due to his disposition; part is likely due to the fact that he can sense I am at ease--a reality that was a long time in coming with my daughter. And while those dark nights and darks days I weathered as my daughter aged were something I would happily never live through again, I am reminded these days that they are etched in who I am. They changed me, challenged me, made me stronger and revealed my true weaknesses and fears; they grew my faith even as it was challenged daily and sometimes hourly. I am thankful for those months of trial even as I detested every hour of them.

I need a haircut once again, and in this next trim I will likely lose the last physical evidence of that time after my daughter was born, a step that will leave me with locks of even curls, a head a little lighter, and a heart a little nostalgic.

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