“Mommy, can you give me an Elsa braid? Wait. No. How about Anna braids?” This is what hairstyling looks like in our house, and I’m sure many houses with preschool girls. All hairstyles are in reference to Disney princesses or television characters. My personal favorite is the impossible request for Doc McStuffins’ hair, with pigtails that somehow defy gravity, floating off to the sides of her face, suspended in midair.
As much as I get a laugh out of her specific hair requests, a piece of me feels inept and unprepared for raising a daughter each time I’m asked to pull off a Disney-level hairstyle. I look around at the girls in my daughter’s preschool and enrichment classes, and I wonder just how the other moms get their daughters’ hair to look so tidy. I’m up against wild, frizzy, curly hair, which is probably a disadvantage, but she has the same hair I do, so it shouldn’t be that difficult for me to manage, should it?
I don’t like doing it, but I’ll be the first to admit that I look at the moms who seem to have it all together, and I compare myself to them. Even the moms who are dressed for the gym have their messy buns perfected. Meanwhile, mine looks like something straight out of middle school. The moms around me wear a natural-looking layer of makeup, giving them the glow that looks like what I always hoped my own motherhood would look like. Meanwhile, my bare face shows every bit of the tiredness that I feel. This uncomfortable self-conscious feeling has been with me from childhood on up, but the feelings of not quite knowing how to put my femininity on display are amplified now that I’m responsible for raising a daughter.
Now here’s the piece that hurts to admit, probably because I’ve never said it before, other than to the few women I’ve connected with who also lost their mothers as young children: I was too proud to ask other available women in my life to help me figure out hair, makeup, and anything related to fashion after my mom passed away. I hid behind the fact that I just wasn’t a girly girl, but at the same time, I was hoping I would eventually just figure it out, much like I had figured out other survival skills in the aftershock of loss. It seemed minor and pointless to focus on at the time, when I had other things to sort out in my life.
In my twenties, at every single one of my hair appointments, I debated asking my stylists for help with figuring out how to replicate a simple style at home, not wanting to admit that I never learned how to style my own hair. It seemed so silly to ask at that point in my life, and still feels silly now, knowing I should have figured all of this out many, many years ago.
Part of me says I really shouldn’t worry about this because I don’t want my daughter to adopt any insecurity that belongs to me. I’d much rather raise a kind, warm-hearted, and inquisitive child than one who worries about the way she looks. However, knowing her, and knowing how much she loves all of the girly things that never caught my eye, I know that hair, makeup, clothing, shoes, and anything with aesthetic appeal has the opportunity to be a point of bonding for us as she grows older. Even earlier today, she opened up a goodie bag from a birthday party she attended and found some lip gloss in it, asking what it was. I described it and asked her if she wanted to try it on, and of course, she puckered up and was very excited to have the chance to sport pink, sparkly lips. I must say I had fun experiencing that with her and I look forward to more mother-daughter moments like that one.
It’s time to stop pretending I don’t care about these things and actually figure out all of the feminine bits of life that I avoided in my youth, wishing my mom was there to help with it all. She may not be here, but if motherhood without her has taught me anything, it’s that I can be resourceful when it comes to figuring out the things I should know in order to best mother my children. Get ready, fashionable women in my life: I’m going to need some lessons!