Thursday, October 15, 2009

Finishing School

It's been kind of throwing me for a loop, taking care of my little girl's lovely curly locks. I'm pretty nervous about having another head of hair to care for, other than my own. I feel like I don't do that great a job with my own hair, body, clothes etc.... and now I'm supposed to prevent my little one's hair from forming into one little dreadlock on the back of her head?
I've been saying all year that I was going to put myself through finishing school this year. Like this was the year I was going to kind of get a style going, get some clothes that I like, proper shoes, and nicer hair. I feel like in my early twenties I could not shower for two weeks and still roll out of bed looking fairly adorable. During this period of having three children in six years I've pretty squarely lost that ability. Besides which, I'd really like to kind of look deeper into why I have such a lack of joy in the self-care department. And by self-care this time I'm speaking obviously more in the physical realm... just caring for this particular body I've been assigned to, this time around. I don't have very positive associations with getting dressed up (stressful shopping trips with my Ma) or with doing anything with my hair (a bossy older cousin use me as one of those semi-life-sized Barbie heads that you can play hairdresser with, and she was NOT gentle as she yanked the comb through my snarls) and I'd like to clean that up a bit so I don't pass that on to my kids.
When I was pregnant with this last little one of mine, the one who turned out to be a daughter, actually before I even knew she was a daughter, I read Mother/Daughter Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup, who I hold in SUCH high esteem, I absolutely adore her. Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom is huge for me. It made me think about a whole lot of stuff, and I remember one day early on having a big ol' cry with a friend and thinking about all these generations of women behind me, leading up to me, and leading up to this baby who was maybe gonna be a woman too, and thinking about how I hoped to release all the sadness and hurt all those women had endured and stored.... so that I could pass on less of that and more of all the other wonderful qualities they had, the strenth and wisdom and humor and brilliance and creativity. And of course, of COURSE, same thing goes for my boys too...
One thing in that book that I thought was really sweet was that she did this spa night with her two daughters once a month, where they would just just do facial masks and comb out their hair and just have a really sweet togetherness few hours where they relaxed and had fun with this kind of spa theme. I thought this would be just as well for boys to learn and so I tried to do it with them... and maybe at some point they will be down with it, but it just devolved rather quickly to a lotion and water fight, not exactly what I was going for. I gave up on the idea, until a few weeks ago when I found myself really needing to confront the tangled little knot of hair that was forming yet again in my little girl's hair. She's an opinionated little sprite and it wasn't going to be easy convincing her to let me drag a comb through those snarls. So I climbed into the bathtub with her and lathered her head with conditioner and we just had this really sweet and gentle time very slowly and carefully working out those tangles, and also just enjoying each other's company. And I realized that this really was what I had been aiming for, and we were doing it together way earlier than I had imagined... sharing this time together, and having it be a really positive experience, caring for the ol' body and all...having it be a bonding experience rather than the stressful power struggle that happened to me, and to my mom, and to my mom's mom... a definite shift, and enjoyable, to boot.
Of course I'm not very far down the road with this whole mothering-a-daughter thing... and as far as finishing school I'm pretty sure I'll probably always be pretty rough around the edges... and I don't know about being finished, but at least it's a start.


Sadie said...

i just loved this. i was thinking the other day about being "finished," and what an unbearable chore it is... at home i've been living in my (6'5") husband's flannels lately, and actually left the house in one of his gigantic sweaters yesterday--that was a bridge too far, i think. this was just what i needed this morning. i believe i will now go take a shower and blow dry my hair. and i won't do it grudgingly. thanks!

Kami said...

Aw, that's so sweet Sadie! Thanks so much for your kind words!