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press charities Attack of the Redneck Mommy


Living a Lie

Thursday, July 18. 4:17 pm.

That's the moment everything changed. By 'everything' I mean nothing, and by 'changed' I mean 'stayed the same' but I just paid the dues for my poetic license so I figure I may as well use it.

I was sitting in a parking lot, waiting for Nash to finish his basketball day camp and that's when it happened. A glint of something shiny caught my eye in my rear view mirror.

A grey hair. My first grey hair. 

At 37 years old, I sprung grey. I know, I know. Ridiculous. I'm writing about ONE single grey hair. Clearly I need a bigger life. But here's the thing. My mom? She wages a war with white. My brother at 38, has more salt than pepper and my younger sister? Has an enviable skunk streak that I always said I'd pay good money to imitate if I had her colouring.

I was the one without any grey. And now I'm not. My family bragging rights had been revoked.

It's as though my always wheat blonde hair suddenly started darkening on it's own so that's it's a shade of dirty dishwater, not really brown, not really blonde and I'd spend the rest of my adult days trying to find a hair colour that brings any spark of colour to my head.

Oh wait, that already happened.

A grey hair is just another insult my hairline likes to dish out. 

It's like I don't even know who I am anymore. My entire identity was a lie.

(I did say I needed a life, right? I stand by that statement.)

Grey hairz. I haz them.

When Nash hopped into the vehicle the first thing I did was point to my forehead.

"Do you see this? Do you? Do you?"

He blinked rapidly, confusion written all over his face. "Um, do I see what?" he asked cautiously.

"THIS!!" I screeched as I pointed like a mad woman to my lone silver hair.

"Er, I, um," he leaned forward, seemingly peering at the hair in question. "All I see is a crazy woman and a wrinkle." 

"A WRINKLE! Not that! It's not a WRINKLE. It's a parenting line. They hand those suckers out with every baby you get. No, I meant the grey hair! I found a grey hair! My first!"

"I don't see anything. Except the wrinkled crazy lady."

My cheeky son may be myopic but the mirror didn't lie. My first grey hair stood out like a neon sign advertising the tragic end of my follicle youth.

I spent the night telling everybody and each time I got the same response. Ya, so?

It would seem, no one cares about other people's grey hairs because they're too busy hiding their own, or you know, having a life. Whichever.

I consoled myself by telling my reflection that it was only ONE grey hair. I can handle the boob drop, the cellulite, the chin whiskers, the nipple wires, heck; I even accept the loose neck skin, the crows' feet and the wrinkled brow. But the grey hair? Grey hair tips the scales into a direction I may not be able to navigate back from. At least it was only one hair. I had time.

Or so I thought.

As I sat in my stylist's chair on Saturday, shooting the breeze, catching up on each other's lives, I suddenly remembered my new follicle friend as she painted my dishwater hair yellow. 

"I found a grey hair this week! I can't believe it! A grey hair!" Surely my friend, my stylist, would understand my pain like no one else seemed to.

I expected her to stop painting my head and tell me to "Hush up! No! That's horrible!" Or tell me, "No way! Where? I didn't see it!"

I didn't understand the sounds coming out of her mouth.

It sounded like ... laughter.

"Took you long enough. You've got at least ten percent grey. Maybe more, Tanis."

Ten percent?! 

My mouth dropped.

"Ya, I didn't want to say anything. You've an entire colony right about here," she said as she tapped my head.

It turns out I've been living a lie. 

I have to tell you, I am okay with that. The lie made me feel good. Made me feel young. Next thing I'll find out is my ass is flat.

NOBODY LOOK. I don't want to know.

Now excuse me, I'm going to be obsessing over newly sprouting grey weeds in my garden of luscious locks while I wait to get a life.

Reader Comments (43)

I'm 46 and have a whole head full of those pesky little buggers. And they HATE my attempts to cover them with fancy hair colors. But I can live with the gray... what I've noticed in the past week or so is far more horrifying.

AGE SPOTS on my hands and forearms!

Oh. My. God.

Also? That weird crinkly wrinkly thing that "mature" skin does on the neck and chest. Totally have that OUT OF THE BLUE.

Oh yeah, aging is a treat. Can't wait for 56. (*cough*, *sputter*)

Btw, if that pic of you is what 36 looks like, I'd say embrace the heck out of it. I think you look downright darling w/ that 'do and those specs. Just sayin.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

You're such a mess :-) it's one of many reasons I love ya.

They're silver linings, don't ya know? Not grey hair :-)

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Meh. I can't get too worked up about this, because my first white hair was at 28 years old. Damned genetics. ;)

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I recently found my first gray hair, and it wasn't on my head. Freaked me out tremendously, and immediately found the tweezers.

Love your writing, Tanis!

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim Rowley

Same exact thing happened to me whilst perched in my stylist's chair. He was all, oh baby, you are PLEN-TY gray, who are you kidding? ACK.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

Dood. I had grey hairs in junior high. Suck it up, Princess. <3

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerra

I found my first patch a few years ago and I'm 36. I plucked all 7 out, marched downstairs and deposited them in my husband's hand. I asked him what two things they all had in common. Fearfully, he replied, "They're all white and they all came from your head?"
Um, yeah.
I'm a redhead so I don't even have the dignity of gray. They are lightning white and coarse as hell. If I pull my hair into a ponytail they all pop out like they're screaming for someone to notice them. I thought about coloring my hair but I'm kind of over it and I figure I've earned every single one of them.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

True age is not the color of the hair, but in the enthusiasm for life, for adventure, for meeting new people, for laughing and drinking and singing and dancing until the wee hours of the night!

Yeah, you're old.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeil

Loved this! I also have dishwater colored hair and found what looked to be a white hair the other day. White! My husband generously described it as "just very blonde. Not white." But the "parenting" lines! Hilarious. Those things creep up on my face like ants at a summer picnic. At least grey hairs can be easily covered up... No investment in so-called miracle eye creams has made those stop ravaging my face. Ugh.
I guess we just have to accept it and move forward, wrinkles, greys and all.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

Ten percent gray? That's for amateurs!

I'm 39 and I get grey hairs right in front near my part. My dad, aunt and uncles are all silver haired. I think it's my destiny, but I'm not ready to embrace it so I COLOR. I will continue to color until I think I'm old enough for silver hair!

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjust JENNIFER

Feeling your pain old lady! Only, I am OLDER than you! Yip baby - next week I am turning 40!!!!!!! I am in total denial. This cannot possibly be true. I am not 40. I am young, irresponsible, and I don't nearly have the RRSPs I should have for a 40year old.

But, I can report. No grey hairs. I can thank my Finnish father for that. But, he died at 56. So, his light colored hair really didn't count for much.

I knew I had a grey hair or two. I'm blessed to be one of those with natural color variations so I let them go and they blend right in. So...I put my hair up in my first pony tail of the year And my mother asks me why I had bleached out the bottom layer of my hair. That's right. Pure white. And my hairdresser never said a word.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

I found my first gray hair and it wasn't on my head............

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkali

Oh this made me laugh. I have some here and there (I'm 34), but I can' only see them when I straighten my hair and they stick out like wiry sore thumbs. I make it a point to straighten my hair as infrequently as possible.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh Ann

I'm 29 and I've had grey hair since I was 9...I've been dying my hair for the longest time to cover those suckers up lol

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTamara

I've heard of worse... Or should I say younger. I look at my Mom who at 50 was sporting a full head of grey hair. I pray that I inherit my Dad's hair color gene. Just a long list of the many things us women have to deal with - after three pregnancies I have the legs of an 80 year old, all varicose veiny and truly UN-sexy. Good-bye shorts. Good-bye cute skirts. Good-bye high heels. Hello pressure stockings and Birkenstocks. I WISH there was a "dye" I could cover these bad boys up with. Consider yourself lucky!!

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen

oh I hear ya sister... except my grey's started coming in a few years ago and now are just... taking over. On the up side they are almost better than the dishwater brown that took over my pretty blonde hair of my youth. Almost.

But I found a grey hair in my EYEBROW of all places last week. Now THAT is insulting.


July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTarasview

Those white ones are your free hiltes! Love you!

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Tanis - You are beautiful as you are-grey hairs and all. So don't worry about 'em.
I started going grey at 20-thought they were blonde highlights in my brown hair. Boy was I wrong! LOL 24 years later it is definitely the least of my worries.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelli

I laughed my head off at the wrinkle being a 'parenting line' - I have never heard that before - it's fantastic!

I had my first grey hair at 15 and my hair has been coloured ever since. I dread to think how much money I have spent but whatever the amount, it is worth every penny!

My mum keeps telling me to grow old gracefully! At 40 I will hide my 80% grey hair thank you very much - that is one family legacy I can do without.

I know exactly how you feel Tanis, I think I went into hiding when I was 15 until I coloured it - having dark brown hair it stood out complete with a speech bubble shouting 'Look at me! Look at me!'

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina @ ribenamusings


July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna Foreman

I have 1. Just 1. At 39. Saw it a few weeks ago but refused to acknowledge its presence (verbally). If there are more, I don't want to know. Like the mouse I saw in the kitchen. The Google says there's never just one (so now I keep waiting for the ceiling to fall in and rats to rain onto my head like in Rataouille I CAN'T STAY ON TOPIC, SORRY).

My sister called to tell me she found a gray pube and was just phoning to let me hear her commence to dying.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

I wouldn't know. I color my hair every ten weeks so I don't have to know. I've probably been living a lie for five years. ha!

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRita Arens

I'm sorry...on this one, I cannot muster the appropriate levels of sympathy. My crappy genetics handed me my first *several* grey hairs at age 18. And it's kept right on going ever since. At 42, I'm now mostly grey. I do use henna, but I'm slack about it.

Here's the thing, though. I wouldn't care so much about the color, as the texture. All of my grey/white hairs have this effed up, wiry texture that spring out from my head. It's insane. If I don't use a flat iron or braid it up, I look like I have a huge Brillo pad on my head.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKillian

My hairdresser told me the same thing too. I figure what I can't see in the mirror, doesn't exist. Tra, la, la.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlittle red hen

Tanis, I have lost half my hair since starting chemo. I see women at the oncology center wearing skull caps. So your just going through a fall season, when the hair changes from blonde to grey, or black to grey, or whatever shade of purple to grey. Bottles put right the color lost, chemo nukes the whole thing, a wig or a beenie cap are the only options for some of us.

Yeah, your son was right, dont see anything excpet the crqazy women at the wheel!

It shall soon pass.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarryLilly

Heehee! This really made me laugh. I felt really old when my youngest cousin turned 40 and I noticed she had lines around her eyes. But she still looks damn good, and Tanis, you are still darn cute.

My bright red hair has been steadily going er, strawberry-dishwater, but it's possible I'm 50% white and haven't really noticed. When I complain to my hair stylist, she tells me to think of my white as natural highlighting. I think the dull, pale hair bothers me more than the white.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Hilarious! And I know all about this because I too thought I was just barely getting my first grey hair, until I flipped my hair while looking in a trifold mirror one day, and much to my surprise, I had MANY grey hairs! Agh! Maybe I can call them blonde, for now....

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika

This post is amazing :) Thanks For the Info.!!

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAvloppslukt

Suck it up, buttercup. Grey hair should be worn with honor and pride. A mark of survival. You've passed.

July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShredderFeeder

Too funny! I started getting a grey streak right in front when I was 24. I had super dark brown hair, so yah couldn't let that go. Ran straight to the dollar store picked up a brown mascara and voila! Grey gone! hahaha!! Got a lot more greys now that I'm 44! Gotta keep coloring for now. :) You still look young, so stop looking at yourself in the car rearview mirror...not a good idea! hahahhaha!

July 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrhonda

OMG you are SO BRAVE! I Die. ((Hugs)) OMG, tears ...

July 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKande

I got my first white hair at 12. Before my first period.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeckylee

I found my first grey pube a few weeks back.

I thought of you. Thinking of dyeing it blue.

I'm 31 and have been colouring my grey for ages. They drive me nuts but I figure it's better than being bald, lol.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Hannah

Love this. Did you notice my gray hairs at BlogHer? No, right? Because I haz DYE. I got my first in my 20s. When I saw you Friday, all I thought was, wow, that woman always looks great.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen S

Tanis, I thought all day long of an idea big enough to distract you from your grey hair. This is what I came up with, hope it helps... bit.ly/1clnaXV

Whatever you do don't pluck your white hairs as they will grow back rough and uneven!

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Surya henna dye and conditioners are absolutely your friends for gray hair:
It goes on just like regular chemical dye, is better for the environment, comes in a variety of colors, and washes out gradually-all while conditioning the hair :)
I've been going gray since my late 30's so I'm probably fully silver by now.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

I am thirty five and I am wondering when to expect gray hairs. I feel like I have earned them. Maybe they are already there?

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Having found stray grays myself, I feel your pain. Love the details in your posts. Thanks for sharing.

August 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaria

Forget the gray hair..... I want to know about those hot specs! Who makes your glasses? They are the pair of second eyes that I never knew I always wanted. And I love your hair! I wish mine looked that casually awesome when short...

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate
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