Every Morning For Now

Friday, January 25, 2019

Every morning for the last six years, give or take a few, this is one of the places I stand-- behind my girl, a basket of supplies nearby, wrangling tangles and coaxing Lucy's thick hair into a ponytail, or a braid or two. First I take out any previous ponytail holders. Then I usually add a small dollop of leave-in-conditioner, focusing primarily on that middle patch of hair in the back where her hair begins to spill down her back-- the place where tangles form into a briar patch of knots. I then spray her hair with water and begin working out tangles with a Wet Brush-- a miracle brush I've had less than a year that I should have spent the money on years ago. As much as I try to keep the pain to a minimum, she flinches on many of the brush strokes until I've managed to get the tangles out or down to the part of her hair where I can then grip the whole mass of hair and use my fist as the buffer to pain while I yank on tangles more vigorously within the ponytail hanging down from my hand. If you've ever brushed long hair, I'm certain you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Once her hair is tangle-free, I make a part in the top front, and pull her face-framing hair into a small ponytail or french braid, only along the right side of her head-- preventative measures to keep her hair out of her face all day. There is nearly never a day that her right front side of her hair is not contained in one of these ways. I've never been able to let myself let it go, and consequently, she has never learned how to keep her hair out of her face herself. I still don't know just how much of a disservice I've done her by always keeping her hair tamed.... time will tell, I suppose. 

After this first ponytail/braid, I then usually either brush her hair into a low pony or into two braids. Again, this almost never varies, and the reasons are nuanced: 1. Since hearing scare stories from fellow moms about head lice, I decided early on in her school career that I'd just go ahead and never send her to school with her hair down. Easy enough. 2. But because she nearly never has her hair down, when I do give her that option, say for church or just a random summer day, she nearly never opts for it. She is a creature of routine, and I've created the routine of "hair up", so she doesn't choose "hair down". 3. I've tried to talk her into a bun or two. Nope-- too different from the routine. 4. I snuck her hair into a high ponytail last week-- her first one-- and she didn't say anything about it. Good or bad. Which means maybe I can add that to the menu now. But maybe still not actually ask her if she wants it or not. Because she'll say no. Because it's not what she's used to. But she didn't mind it when it was in all day last week. So.

At least once a month, when she's particularly vocal about the hair-brushing pain, usually after two or three days of being home with nowhere to be, and not having her hair brushed daily-- these days which also seem to yield a higher likelihood that she'll either be in costume and/or rolling around the floor/in a blanket/in and out of a play tent/etc. where friction compounds her tangles--I then threaten to take her to get her hair cut. Not short.... not like a bob or anything.... But maybe shoulder-length? I tell her that it would make hair-brushing a breeze every time. She says she loves her long hair, and used to protest the idea of a cut more... but recently, she hasn't argued to keep it long when I bring it up. So I see a trim in our future. Maybe only 3-4". 

After all this--- the actual work and the overthinking of the actual work.... the agony (for her head and my nerves) of working out particularly bad tangles...the wondering if I've created problems by under-instructing her on how-tos and over-containing the flyaway potential and being too routine overall.... After all this, I still love the feel of her hair under my hands. I love the moment every day that we are physically connected, engaging in a timeless ritual between mother and daughter. I love that she lets me. (That she doesn't even know any different). I love turning chaos into silken order. I'm even getting better at the braiding bit. 

But as she moves from age 7 to age 8 soon, I've begun to realize I can't do it for her forever. She's going to need to learn some things for herself. So we've begun a few little lessons here and there-- how to brush one's own hair. How to make a ponytail (I never realized how complicated this is to someone who's never done it. Harder than tying shoes, even.) Soon I'll begin helping her try shampooing and rinsing her own hair. (It's so THICK. I haven't been able to bring myself to let her do it on her own yet... all I can envision is clumps of conditioner still deep in her hair, unrinsed.) 

I know a large percentage of mothers out there would read this and be SHOCKED we've not done any of this until now. But maybe some of the moms are where I'm at. And maybe a few more won't even begin this much teaching until a few more years after age 8. To each her own. I think maybe the girls will all turn out okay in this area, eventually. (Though watching my girl with a ponytail holder, still not grasping how to pull the hair through it.... ay yi yi.)

All this to say-- Every morning for the last six years, this ritual, this act of love and caregiving, has been a good and humble work. The simple task of brushing hair, braiding hair, smoothing hair. Using my hands to show her I love her and I care about her well-being. And one day it'll be over. She'll take the brush into her own hands and she'll learn her own way. And I will miss this. But I get to do it a while longer. Every morning. Every morning for now. 


  1. Have you considered having her sit in front of a mirror? Even if you’re still doing it, she at least can see what you’re doing. i feel like this was important to how I learned similar skills. Just a thought!

  2. Beautifully written. And it made me wonder when I let you girls start doing your hair....


CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan