Mom Jeans, Now Mom Hair?

Ann Cowlin, founder of Dancing Thru Pregnancy told me once during an interview that a mother never has the same body after pregnancy. In fact, she said a mother has one body before, one body during and one body after. That’s just the way it is. Embrace the body you are in, she said. This was before I became pregnant.

With her words heavy on my mind, I’ve been anticipating the awkward crawl back to fitness. It’s been no shock to me that my stomach is not flat six weeks postpartum. I am not saying I like it, but I didn’t expect the cellulite on my thighs to just melt off – though it would have been nice if it had. It looks like I’ll have to do some old-fashioned exercise and I’m OK with that. I have even come to terms with this new body and bought myself a pair of mom jeans. They are double my old size and I am comfortable with the fact that they might be my “new” size. What I am really, really, really struggling with is my hair. Ms. Cowlin never talked about that.

Like the morning my biological clock went off and I told Joe I HAVE to become pregnant, is the same way I’ve decided I NEED to cut my hair. I am mom now and I must have a mom cut to match my mom jeans. It’s about keeping the harmony in mom land. But am I really being cliché?

It’s not like I am going to go all Kate Plus 8 or anything, but I have this very strong urge to lope off all my locks as if losing a foot of my chocolate-colored mane will make me more of woman. I assure you that short hair does not make me look more womanly, but inside it does makes me feel like She-Ra.

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Me (left) circa college, 2002-ish

I’ve had a pixie before (see photo) so this isn’t really that drastic, but my hair grows slow and it has taken almost five years to get it the right color and the perfect long, but not too long, length. And Joe loves it. I, on the other hand, do not. I whip it up into a ponytail or tie it up with a pen any chance I can get. I don’t hate my long hair I just hate it in my face.

Unlike the cute moms you see in magazines, on TV and very seldom in real life, my short hair does not flip just right or bounce just so. It hangs, stick straight, in its mousey-brown dullness and does, well, nothing. No matter how much I gel it or curl it or twirl it, my hair just hangs. The fantasy I have about this short due being sleek and sassy, well I know that’s not going to happen. That’s reservation number one when it comes to cutting.

Reservation number two is far more grave; what if this short cut is my new hairstyle for, well, forever?

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Mom (left) and dad at their wedding send-off; May, 1976.

My mother has been sporting her mom-bob since the 1980s and the only real variation she has made in the past 34 years has been the shade of blonde. The length has dipped between her chin and shoulders through the years but all, in all, it has been the same style (see photo-study). It’s how people recognize her, how people know her. It’s nothing like the strawberry-blonde flowing shoulder-length mane she wore on her honeymoon. There’s only maybe one or two pictures of her with this illusive hair. It’s her finest look.

If I am to travel down this road, the do I get today could be how Joey IV sees me forever.

Like I’ve embraced my mom jeans, will a new haircut be the same? Can you help me decide what to do?

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Mom and I; circa early 1980s.

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Mom and dad; circa 1994.

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Mom and I; circa 2012.

Learning to Swing (Again)

Not actual baby. 🙂

Yesterday I took Joey IV to Foote Memorial Park for some fresh air and because I am struggling to drop my last 20 pregnancy pounds because a good walk would do us both good.

Joey IV slept like a lump in his stroller and I had lots of time to let my mind wander as I circled the park lap after lap, the smooth pavement guiding my way. I thought about Joey IV hanging like a loose rag doll in the stroller – he’s too small to fill out the big bucket right now but I know soon enough he’ll be busting out of that nylon harness. I wonder as I push the stroller and let it slip from my hands and glide on its own in front of me, if he could actually somehow slip out of the safety device. I know this is not possible and I catch the stroller after one and half strides and I push him away again.

I try to enjoy the warm breeze from nearby Long Island Sound and listen to the birds nesting and visiting the bountiful trees of the park. I try so hard to “be” in the moment but I am not very good at it. My mind quickly slips to my most recent preoccupation, my occupation, and I think about the future. I think about my career. How will I juggle Joey IV and work? Will I be good at being a mom? Will my job change? My mind races and Joey IV sleeps in a deep, peaceful slumber.

I round the corner past the tennis courts and as my mind wanders thinking about how I’ll never be someone who plays tennis, a gathering near the swings shifts my attention. A father pushes his new child who is maybe eight months old ­– I am still really bad at recognizing the age of children by the amount of chub in their cheeks – and a mother stands in front of the swing documenting the event on video. A grandmother is nearby beaming. The child, who may have special needs, appears to never have been on a swing before and he is laughing and shrieking with joy. He is smiling with lips stretched as far as humanly possible. I am so touched realizing that this woman has captured this experience of sheer joy and elation on video. At that very moment, all four of them are “in” the moment and I am pulled in as well.

Joey IV and I emerge from the scene for one last lap around the park and we stop halfway to sit under the shade of a tree. Joey IV is still sleeping soundly but I gently pull him from his harness and sit him in the grass with me. We both listen to the sounds of nature and I notice the beauty of the tree bark and the way the light dances through the leaves. I hope Joey IV can smell the earth and enjoy the way the wind dances across his skin. The moment is short-lived but for the time I am really “in” it and I quietly thank the baby on the swing for reminding me how to just “be.”