Yesterday, I watched a show where families were fostering and adopting children. There was a little baby, and my uterus ached.
My babies were babies so very long ago. My oldest is 14, a true man-child. My littlest is 8, moving out of the little kid stage, but still there. At 12 is my middle, my mini-me, who shares my face and inner-temperament.
She also shares/d my hair. She was born with very little hair. At 2, she was still struggling to grow a few strands. But at 3, her hair seemingly grew within an hour, so fast that I truly can remember a day where she had no hair, and then when she had a lot of hair, and I cannot remember any day in between.
We had a classic mother-daughter struggle over her hair. I never wanted to fight with my child over her black hair. I never wanted to hit her with a brush for moving too much. Never wanted her to cry because combing her hair hurt. Never wanted her to have the hot comb singe her neck and tops of her ears.
So when she was 4, I decided I wasn’t going to do any of those things. I also had another child and one on the way. I wasn’t going to fight about hair. So I did what I knew to do — I loc’d it.
My hair had been loc’d for 6 years by then. I started and maintained my own. I started her with small two strand twists and then combined those into larger locs. I was the only person to touch her hair from the time she was 4 until she was 8. Her hair grew. She was able to do whatever she wanted to do with it. Ponytails. Braids. As it grew, she could flip it, and put it into a bun, and go swimming without worrying about her hair.
As I get to know her better, I realize that our early struggle was never really about hair though. It was about independence. At three and now at 12, she has never liked being under anyone. You says left and she turns right because she’s not gonna take what you say for truth. She’s gonna figure her own way to get where she wants to go.
About 6 months ago, she said she wanted to cut her locs shorter. I delayed as long as possible, but then I let her do it. As in I picked up some scissors and cut it myself, shoulder length.
Jumping forward: this weekend, my child combed out her locs. Her hair is now a mass of beautifully free curls. She’s so happy, although she doesn’t know what to do with it. And it’s been so long for me, over 15 years, dealing with free natural black hair. So we will be learning together, as much as we can.
I actually had to leave this post alone for a few days. And now I’m sitting here crying on Mothers’ Day, after a day of bottomless mimosas, mourning.
Mourning my baby. Mourning her baby-ness. Mourning her breaking with me. Mourning that thing that made us alike.
This post is not going to have a tidy neat ending. My heart is a little broken.