Before I had kids, I remember passing judgment every single time I saw a young kid with unkempt hair and mismatched outfits. How in the world did their mother let them leave the house like that? Does she not care at all that her child is a hot mess?
Ha. And then, I had Reagan.
From the beginning, this child has always wanted to decide what she was going to wear that day. In her mind, five different shades of the same color go gloriously together. Plus, that child is always barefoot. In fact, I cannot tell you how many times we have run out the door and arrived somewhere just to realize that Reagan did not have any shoes. Thankfully, most of the time, I have been able to scrounge up a pair somewhere in my mom mobile.
So yes, I have been used to the clothes and shoe thing – have even withstood the looks of strangers at her audacious apparel (the same looks I once gave). But guys, at least my child’s hair was always done to a T. Braids, curls, pigtails, bows, scrunchies. But this past, oh, year or so, my child has decided that she, and only she, does her hair.
Look, I get it. She is the child and I am the adult. She doesn’t get to just decide these things. I can make her let me do her hair. And, sometimes I do. Sometimes, we spend hours of tears – hers and mine – for literally a simple, straight ponytail.
This child has every complaint; the brush hurts. I have bought about 10 different brushes – they all “hurt.” I pull too hard on her tangles – I have at least 5 different detangling sprays. She just wants to do it herself.
And here’s the thing, my baby is fed, loved, prayed with and over. She is kind, caring and polite. She is wild, hilarious and so determined. She is more than cared for and provided for — every single one of her needs is met.
But, if you see her out and about, her hair may just tell a different story. And you can judge all you want (heck, I know I used to). But did you also see that smile across her lips? Did you hear her laugh incessantly over flapping her arms like a chicken? Did you watch her enjoy the little things around her carelessly and freely? Did you notice the confidence that she rocks — wild hair and all?
She is proud of her hair doing ability. To her, it does not matter what anyone else thinks, she killed it. Most importantly, in a world where she doesn’t have all the decision-making power or control — yes, you have to go to school today; yes, it is bedtime etc. — she gets to hold in her little hands the power of doing her own hair.
Sure, I could put my foot down. I could totally force this babe to sit down every morning before school and fight with her to do her hair. But honestly, what good does that do either of us? Within minutes, she is out the door and on to a full day of learning. Both of us starting the day with a power struggle and cry fest truly just starts our opportunistic day with negative attitudes.
And for what? For a 30-minute struggle of a ponytail that stays pristine for maybe half that long just so people don’t look at her and judge what kind of home life she has? I tell you what, this child does not care one bit if anyone else likes her hair. Because at the end of the day, she does. And who am I to take that from her? Especially at the expense of ruining the start of our day.
So yes, you may see my child out there with bumps in her ponytail — her part is probably not even straight. Flyaways on some days and others she decides to use a full can of hairspray and it is matted to her head. But, this girl rocks her masterpiece. Every. Single. Day.
I am not going to fight it or sheepishly make excuses for it. In fact, I am actually quite proud of us – me for picking my battles and not starting our day off on the wrong foot, and her for owning her beauty, ability and look.
Quite honestly now, when I see the other mismatched kids with wild hair, I can’t help but smile. Because behind that “unkempt” child is surely an unselfish Mama picking her battles and supporting her small, stubborn babe who is brave enough to believe in her full-blown, inside and out, beauty.
Keep being you, Reagan Roo. Mama is so proud of you!
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.