Today's post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing). Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.net
All four of my children, two boys and two girls, ranging from 3 years old to 15, have long hair. I have long hair too. It wasn’t always this way. When my oldest child decided on his 7th birthday that he was going to grow his hair long, something changed in our family, and something changed in me. Eight years later, with my slightly more mindful set of eyes, the length of my children’s hair strangely tells the story of my mothering.
I secretly smiled as my oldest son started growing his hair when he was seven. Despite negative comments from family members and despite often being mistaken for a girl, I admired his determination and strength of spirit; he was not bending to cultural norms. He had a vision for what he wanted for himself and how he wanted to appear in this world. He was teaching me about inner and outer strength of character. Little did he know that he was creating a norm for hair length in our family.
Just around that time, the longer my oldest son’s hair grew, the more I began to notice that my toddler was approaching the time for a first haircut. I avoided heated discussions with my husband who was eager to cut Henry’s long blond curls because he was tired of explaining to people that he was not a girl. I understood his point, but the longer Henry’s hair grew, the more I fiercely protected its length. And the more I protected its length, the more I realized how his hair held innocence, resilience, and mindfulness.
My toddler was showing me all sorts of things about life: how to approach the sea with excitement and wonder, how to create and live in imaginary worlds, and how our inner walk takes longer to practice than our outer one. His hair, so blond, so long, so curly, captured not only his true toddler essence but also said something about my desire to let it be what it is: the more I saw him, the more I saw me. The more I protected his hair length, the more I was protecting that uncultivated, creative me that so longed to be free. He was giving me a lesson in mindfulness: pay attention to embodiment, the here and now, and the beauty and the joy and the real you will surface.
Henry decided to cut his hair just before he was three years old. Despite my sadness in letting go of the length, I knew I needed to allow him to make this small significant decision. It seemed like the timing was right for him (and for me) because our differentiating had already started. It was time for me to let go now.
My two boys, now several years older, still have long hair. I have never told them how much their hair length means to me. They would probably think I am terribly strange. Besides, I wouldn’t want them to think to do things to please me. I love how they don’t care about the cultural norms that attempt to define girls one way, boys another. I love how they embrace their own uncultivated, creative selves by hair style and length. And a deeper part of me believes that their hair length holds spiritual power—a power they possibly don’t even know or understand yet.
As I watch my boys so easily embrace who they are becoming, I wonder if this is the real gift in mothering: they have the potential to teach me to open my eyes and my heart to a wisdom that only passes by example. They live according to their own beat (and hair length). I still fiercely protect their desires and wishes and dreams--and their desire for long hair--and the more I practice this behavior, the more I realize I mother me while I mother them.