Since I stopped working, my life has become a not-particularly-glamourous exercise in “how can I save money?” and my most recent attempt at saving money has been “cutting my own hair.” Which people are often impressed by. They will say, “Oh wow– that must be so hard, cutting your own hair!” But it isn’t at all. Cutting your own hair well is difficult, but cutting your own hair is simple. The hardest part of the whole thing is just making small talk with yourself.
This is the haircut I attempted to give myself.
So I cut my hair, and it went well enough that people would say things like, “Hey, I like your haircut,” or “Where did you get that done?” and I felt good enough about it that I didn’t force myself to wear hats all the time.
And then a month or so ago I was at a comedy show with a friend who commented, “Hey, I love your haircut. It’s very…” he paused for a moment, searching for the right word. “Motherly,” he said. “It’s such a great mom haircut.”
And obviously…obviously the hardest part of having a friend tell you that you have “mom hair” is having to kill your friend. Especially if you have known him for a long time. But it’s not as though he didn’t have options as to what to say. I have a short, dark haircut that curls/flips out at the sides. In fairness, YES, it can be considered a mom haircut. But it can be considered other things, too! Please feel free to say, “Oh, that looks great! You have such a _____________________.” And then say anything other than “motherly haircut.” Some easy ones might be:
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“You have such ain 2004 haircut”
Who doesn’t want to be compared to Mariska Hargitay, right? She doesn’t have a mom haircut. She’s a cop. Or whatever: She’s an actress who plays a cop. Actually, a great way not to get pigeonholed as a “mom” is to always wear your Mariska Hargitay “Detective Olivia Benson” costume because people will say, “Oh, she’s not giving up on femininity: She’s just dressed like that to intimidate sex offenders and violent criminals.”
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“You have such ahaircut”
Ok, so this is not my first choice, but I’d rather look like Lady Bird Johnson than be stuck in the amorphous “mom hair” category. If you tell me I have a Lady Bird Johnson haircut, I will probably maim you but not kill you. Yes, we both have dark brown hair. Yes, it curls up at the bottom. Fine.
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“You have such anhaircut”
“Hey,” my friend might’ve said. “I love your haircut. It’s very…” and he would have paused briefly before saying, “It makes me want to solve crimes with my brilliant niece and her intelligent dog.”
And can you really, truly understand the stigma of the mom haircut? I am saying I would rather be compared to a 40-something-year-old male cartoon detective than be told I have a motherly haircut. I don’t know if I could make this more clear.
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“You have such a “Hugh Jackman as Wolverine” haircut
This falls into the same category as “you have such a Tygra from Thundercats” haircut in that yes, you are correct, my hair comes to two little points on the sides. In a perfect perfect world would people come up to me and tell me my hair reminded them of large, anthropomorphized man-cats? No. But we left that perfect perfect world behind a long time ago.
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“You have such a Water Buffalo haircut”
I’m not even sure this is an improvement anymore. Just tell me I look like Mariska Hargitay in 2004.
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It does not make sense for me to have long hair that I am never going to have time to wash. When I think about having long hair, I think about it in an impractical fantasy– about having amazing, gorgeous hair, perfectly styled, while standing on the red carpet at the Oscars. I think about a ponytail whipping behind me in the wind as my thoroughbred horse gallops across a field. Long hair is beautiful if you have time to take care of it– a.k.a. if you’ve got thoroughbred horse kind of money. It is decidedly less appealing when filled with Cheerios and matted together with children’s drool. Sometimes I think I want long hair, but that is not what I want: What I want is to be a gorgeous 23-year-old with long hair and no responsibilities and my whole life ahead of me. I cannot keep myself young by keeping my hair long. Sometimes I think that I can do that, but I can’t.
So I’m adjusting to having a motherly haircut. Which has nothing to do with the haircut at all, really. Because I had this exact same haircut from age 21 to age 26, and no one ever commented that it looked motherly. Because when you’re 21, it doesn’t. It looks like a young girl’s short haircut. I had short hair for years because even before having a kid, I never looked particularly great with long hair.
I am not adjusting to having a mom haircut. I am adjusting to being a mother.
And so when my friend approached me at the show and said, “It’s such a great mom haircut,” what I heard was, “You are old. You are old and outdated and you will never be young again. Do not bother buying pajamas that are not flannel and from the L.L. Bean catalog, and do not bother buying clothes that are not shapeless and from Kohl’s, purchased with a 30% off coupon. For the rest of your life you will get visibly excited about ads for any detergent promising to be “tough on stains!” You will never again go into a bar and laugh and drink with friends and then at 2AM decide that you are all going to go to IHOP and get pancakes for no reason. You will no longer travel to other countries and stay in hostels and meet new and interesting people. Do not do things on your own anymore, ever. Do not ever have anything interesting to say. Dissolve into a haze of Desitin and grilled cheese and eventual PTA meetings. Cease to enjoy life. ”
Except that he didn’t say any of those things. He mentioned that I had a “motherly” haircut, and I inferred everything else because having kids was, in my mind, synonymous with all of the above statements. I felt like motherhood was something that took over your entire existence, like an all-consuming virus.
But in fairness, motherhood hasn’t been as bad as I was nervous it would be. It is hard. Yes. Parts of it are very tiring and very hard. But I still do things on my own four or five days a week. I have my own life in the evenings that does not involve the baby. I do not stay out drinking until 2AM, but try, once in a while, to make it till midnight. I have managed to not care at all about coupons or brands of detergent. I feel, most of the time, like a normal person.
Or maybe using the word “normal” is pushing it. But I don’t feel like a caricature of a harried mother, which was what I had dreaded more than anything. I’m busy but doggedly optimistic. Occasionally confused. Determined to figure things out. Bumbling but well-intentioned, with relatives who look out for me. Maybe those things have always been built into my personality, or maybe they emerged once I had a kid.
Or there’s always the possibility they come with the haircut.
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