Friday, February 21, 2014

On Hair and Feeling Guilty

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I have debated writing this post, just because I don't really like talking about myself and am incredibly uncomfortable with putting so many pictures of me in one post, but this topic, as silly as I find it, has been on my mind a lot, and I am hoping that others can relate with the struggle I had of change after having a child.

Skyler is great about playing independently if I need to get something done at home. I spend almost all of my time entertaining him, but if I need to clean something quickly, throw a load of laundry in, or take a fast shower, he is fine playing on his own. The only time that this does not apply is when I am trying to dry/style my hair. For some reason, when I am standing at our bathroom counter is when he wants to read every book in his room, eat a "sack" minutes after breakfast is finished, and needs me right there to play with all of his toys.

Having to style my hair is a fairly new (or new again) requirement of my morning routine. When Joe and I got married in June of 2011, I had very (very) long hair. I found it more annoying than actually appreciating it. I have always gone in phases of growing out my hair and then chopping it off and donating it when it grows to the length required. Because of this, I have had really short bobs and asymmetrical bobs based on how long it was when I decided it was time for a change and how much needed to come off for the donation. I had been growing my hair out for our wedding, and before the wedding was even over, I knew that I was going to chop it off soon after!

Between my summer job as a camp counselor which could get extremely hot and wanting a fast and professional hair style for student teaching in the fall, I decided to go with my most drastic change yet. I went from having my longest hair ever to having my shortest.

The first picture I took of my pixie cut, right after I got it done!
I absolutely loved having a pixie cut. It was wonderful to have during my hot summer job and in the fall when I was student teaching it took me very little time to get ready in the morning. I wore cute outfits, a lot of fun jewelry, and more makeup than I normally did. Even with my short hair, I felt very feminine and I got so many compliments on my 'brave' hairstyle, I felt more confident about myself than I had in a long time, maybe more than ever because I couldn't hide behind my hair.

This was taken right after finding out about Skyler.

In Duluth, about halfway through my pregnancy.
I found out I was pregnant with Skyler only four months after my pixie cut made it debut. I am blessed to know the most amazing woman who cuts and styles hair in her home and I never would have done the pixie cut if it weren't for her. She started talking about growing out my hair depending on how and where I gained weight during my pregnancy. It made me nervous. I thought I was going to be hugely pregnant and bloated all over while trying to grow out my hair, but luckily all my weight was in my belly, and I got to enjoy my pixie cut throughout my pregnancy. I dressed in a lot of cute flowy dresses, so I was still feeling great on how I looked with my short hair. Though I did feel like I missed out on having the thick and lustrous pregnancy hair.

 30 weeks pregnant (left), and at my baby shower (right), the day before Skyler was born.

When Skyler was born, I was still happy rocking my pixie cut, and then between nursing and spit up (wearing a lot of button up and stretchy shirts, not my normal cute dresses), my postnatal body (which I was happy with for what it was, though loving my body has never been a strong point for me), and having a newborn (not sleeping much and definitely not even thinking about putting on makeup), I started feeling worse and worse about how I looked. I was not feeling feminine anymore, and found myself saying "I look like a boy" often.

 The day Skyler was born, visiting Skyler in the special care nursery, and the day we took Skyler home.

I got my pixie cut in August, and almost exactly one year later, when Skyler was a couple of months old, I decided to grow my hair back out. I was not looking forward to the process of growing out a pixie cut since I had heard horror stories and I was sad that it only lasted a year, but I was having so many negative thoughts about myself and just feeling sad about the way I looked. As someone who has always struggled with self esteem, it was hard to feel that way. I just wanted to be happy with my baby and with being a mommy, which is all I have ever wanted.

September 2012 - just starting to grow it out.
November 2012 - showing the grow out of the shortest part!
December 2012

February 2013 - the last month for the "side burns"

Three pictures from March 2013 - had some cute days and some not so cute days.
While my hair did not always look perfect during the grow out process, I was surprised that it was actually cute at every stage (again, I am so thankful for my hair stylist, she is the best!) I never disliked the way it looked, but sometimes I would look in the mirror and know it was time for a trim (mostly to avoid a mullet!) I try not to base my happiness on the way I look, but I felt better about myself the longer my hair got. I am sure it helped that I was soon back to sleeping like normal, having more time to take care of myself (exercising regularly and taking time to put on makeup when I felt like it), finding cute clothes I could nurse in, and when I stopped nursing during the day, after Skyler turned one, being able to wear any style of clothing without worrying about it stretching or opening in the front!

 April - starting to get harder to style since my bangs were getting so long.

 May - maybe my least favorite month of the grow out process (I wore that hat a lot).

 June - the month of the little flip. Maybe my favorite month of the grow out process.

 July - August

In September I realized that my hair was no longer short enough to get away with no styling. My hair is the horrible kind of wavy where it is not straight and not curly, and both sides wave in different directions. It got to the point where the waves started sticking out in their weird ways and I then had to spend some of my time drying and styling my new 'long' hair (in high school and college I straightened my hair and now I use a round brush and blow dryer only). I am insanely jealous of the people who can go a day or two without showering and their hair looks even better, or the people who can wear their hair up in cute ways, but my thin hair needs shampooing every day and my pony tail is approximately two centimeters thick (maybe a very slight exaggeration).

September 2013 - my hair dryer and round brush became my friend.

Sometimes I look at myself and cannot believe that my hair is actually kind of long, at shoulder length it is not even really a bob anymore. Of course, now that it is grown out, the issues that I have with myself and my hair are not gone, but different. I never thought I would care so much about hair (because honestly I don't care about hair, and I have been surprised these past few weeks to be having all these thoughts about something so silly). 

This is the point I am at now, after showering I have to at some point dry my hair and use the round brush to give myself the bob shape I like, before it dries in strange waves. So I waste fifteen minutes of my time that I want to interact with my son to style my hair, and I hate it. It makes me feel guilty. I wish I could take time to get myself ready without feeling this way, but I can't. Isn't it horrible? Of all the things to feel guilty for, taking some time for myself should not be one of them. And really, as long is Skyler is safe, taking fifteen minutes for most things should not make me feel guilty.

When Skyler comes up to me with a book (lately it has been "Pess, Pess?" for Press Here by Herve Tullet) and won't be happy until I am sitting with him on my lap to read the story, or when he runs into the bathroom and starts driving his car on my leg "Mama, car? Beep beep!" I feel like I should stop what I am doing to spend that time with him. But, the big bad mama I am, we have places to be, and gosh Skyler, I need to do this before my hair dries! Don't you know?? I feel horrible saying, "Honey, you sit down and read the book, look at the pictures!" Sometimes he will sit in the hallway and flip pages while I read the words, since I know most of his books by heart.

Though I hate wearing it up, this is how my hair ends up when
I know we are going to be home the rest of the day.

Depending on how fast I dry and style my hair, I feel like it shows how frazzled I was to finish and spend time with Skyler, who always wins over my attention (It is a lot easier when daddy is home because I can usually get it done before he leaves for work).

To alleviate these silly feelings of guilt, I have been trying to shower and get ready before Skyler wakes up, and it has worked many days, but part of me wants that extra sleep and to teach Skyler to be alright with me spending that time on myself (and to teach myself to be alright about it without feeling guilty or like I am a bad mom, which I know I am not). Since Skyler was born, I have been terrible about taking "me time." It is something I need to work on, because I know that I am a better mom to Skyler when I feel good about myself.

Of course, now I am wishing I had my pixie cut back, but I am fighting the urge for now. I think after Skyler has a sibling I will eventually cut it short again, but we will see when the time comes.

 A year and a half of pixie grow out in six month increments based on our family
photo shoots in June 2012, December 2012, June 2013, and December 2013

I hope that I will come to the point where I feel like I am good enough for Skyler and lose these feelings of guilt that get in the way of me being the best mother I can be for him. Did you change something about yourself, like a hairstyle, when you had your child or children?

Wow, this post ended up a lot longer than intended, and also I should point out that I am not vain as the multiple pictures of me would suggest, but I had so much fun going through the pictures of little Skyler and got very carried away!


  1. You are so beautiful Hales!! What a wonderful fun mom you are too - Skylar is so lucky!! (As is Joe!)

  2. I SO relate to this! I have two kiddos (2.5 yrs and nearly 17 mo) and hair drying time is the hardest part of my routine. Sounds so silly to type it out but the dryer comes out and they get extra needy. I've found that letting them sit on my lap at my vanity to play with various items / stacking / etc. helps (some) but it's such a juggling act... literally! Thanks so much for posting about this. It's comforting to know I'm not alone. Hang in there! I wish I could pull off short hair as beautifully as you do!

    1. Zona, I am so glad that I am not the only one! I felt silly writing it down, but even since writing it I find that I feel less guilty about taking the time for myself! Also, I have tried more to get Skyler started with an activity before I go to do my hair in the bathroom, which seems to help. Thank you for writing!

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