I sat in the kitchen last week and watched as my hair stylist cut and curled my daughter's hair. (Yes, my hair stylist comes to my house. Yes, she is awesome.) Ken's graduation photos loomed before us and with each wisp of hair curled and wrangled into position she resembled more of the beautiful adult she is morphing into and less of the disheveled six year old she once was. I couldn't help but sigh.
I used to have hair like that.
What, you thought I was going to talk about how hard it is watching your kids grow up only to let them go? Please, I'm not that deep.
(Note to self: You should write that post.)
(I will. Just not today.)
When I was a young child my hair was fine blonde wisps that, when not dirty with the sweat of a hard day's child's play, floated like finely spun spider webs and shone like gold in the afternoon sun. Time tarnished my hair, vanity bleached it, and finally, over a year ago, aggravation hacked it all off.
But vanity is a hard thing to let go of, once it's climbed onto your back like the monkeys at the Rock of Gibraltar. I watched my daughter's teenaged locks shimmer with the glow of youth as she tossed her mane over her shoulders and instinctively my hands went to my own head of hair.
Okay, so the monkeys of Gibraltar were less on back and more on my head. Whatever.
I'm rocking the dirty dishwater blonde/brown hair, highlighted with the greys I never knew I had all while trying to grow out the pixie cut my husband loathed and lose the ten pounds I invariably gain over the holiday season.
It's a bad time of year to have mom hair. God bless the toque.
Nothing says 'youthful and carefree' like covering up what is now effectively a mullet, with a fuzzy hat with hands that clap when you squeeze the pompon on the end. The boys' on the basketball team love it.
(Love can be defined here as rolling their eyes and mocking me in the locker room, but hey, they do it with affection.)
The last time I tried to grow out my hair from a pixie cut, I was numb with grief. My kid had just died and it didn't matter that I had dyed my hair an atrocious shade of brown that looked green in certain light. I just didn't care. (Oh hey, it only took me eight years to find an upside to grief. There really are silver linings to every storm cloud. Go figure.)
However, the only thing I'm grieving right now is the size zero pants of my youth and the fact I've reached the age where people just automatically assume I'm old enough to be somebody's mother. It doesn't matter that I'm four somebodies mother; my ego has firmly strapped on the blinders of aging and is planted in the land of delusion.
This makes growing out a short hairstyle painful. Toss in the whisker from a new neck mole just discovered, those tedious chin hairs that dodge tweezers, cheek fur growing increasingly thick and more lines on your neck than on the front page of a newspaper and I've decided I'm never cutting my hair again.
I'm going to go full on Crystal Gayle, unless of course my hair starts to thin, in which case, I'm buzzing it all off and asking my grandfather if I can borrow my (bless her soul) grandmother's wig.
The older I get, the more comfortable I tend to be with how I look. I no longer exercise or diet to stay thin; instead I work to stay strong enough to ably care for Knox; I rarely wear makeup beyond blush and mascara and only because I tend to look a tad corpse-y without it, and I can't remember the last time I showcased my 'girls' or for that matter, shaved my legs.
I am what I am, as the saying goes, and I'm pretty happy with all that I am.
Except for this mop on my head.
I walk past a mirror and I laugh. I can't help it. The mullet shag look amuses me, as does the fact the longer it grows, the frizzier and curlier it becomes. There was a time I'd kill for curls. I don't recognize the middle aged mom staring back at me.
The only golden hair locks in this house are the ones on my teens' heads and I'm slowly making peace with that. Time waits for no one and waist sizes and hair follicles change with the passing of time. My beauty inspiration may be less Gisele Supermodel what's-her-name and more Helen Mirren nowadays. I'm learning the fine art of aging gracefully.
Even with the toque that waves.
Which is why, (yes, there is finally, 800 words later, a point to this prose) when I received a message on Facebook last week (thanks Maria) that someone was stealing the pictures I post on my Facebook page and passing them off as her own profile pictures, I chose laughter over frustration.
It wasn't the first time it's happened, and likely, thanks to the grace of the Internet, it won't be the last. Some poor soul out there is so unhappy with how she looks that she chose the face of some random middle-aged blogger to pretend to be.
I know how it feels to be so desperately unhappy with everything about oneself that what is reflected back at you in a mirror saddens and dismays you. I live with the beauty of my youth reflected back at me every time I see my teenaged daughter and I know my reflection is not what it once was.
But, bland and boring coloured mullet hair aside, it's going to be all right. I've still got it going on, it just takes a moment more to see it. Joy and love is reflected with every crinkle in the corner of my eyes, persevering through the age spots and whiskers. It's a different type of beauty, but it's there.
I hope you find your beauty and your strength, anonymous photo thief.
I hope that you can one day look in the mirror and laugh at the bad hair and love yourself through it.
At the very least, I hope you find the wisdom to steal pictures from someone who doesn't have to carefully angle the camera to hide her chin waddle and use a million filters to smooth out the wrinkles like I always have to.
But in case you don't, let me help you. Here's a picture you can use anytime you decide your own portrait is unbearable: