Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yes, I Shaved My Daughter's Head

This year has been a whirlwind. That's my excuse for completely neglecting my blog. When I came across Gwen Bell's challenge, I signed right up to reflect on the year with daily posts. Which I then immediately neglected. Hey, I got busy.

"I got busy."

When did that become my daily mantra, sprinkled with the occasional "I'm so tired" and "Meh?"

When I saw today's topic was this year's biggest challenge, it made me think. About how I started a new job and created a new department and the daily challenges of staying on top of the ongoing chaos that is social media. About keeping focused on the important things like friends and family and husbands. About the daunting pile of laundry that is forever building force to wage battle against the dust bunny armies in on-going domestic warfare. Meh. I'm tired.

Well, boo-effing-hoo.

Today Danger (my 2 year old daughter) got a new cast on her right foot. One of so many casts that I have lost count. But that hasn't stopped her from tearing through the house, dodging dust bunnies and laundry piles with unabandoned glee, her little bald head bobbing.Yes. That's right, her bald head.

I shaved my daughter's head.

Actually, Hubby shaved her head while I sobbed in the background. And that one act is the greatest challenge that has taught me the most this year.

It started innocently enough. She twirled her hair for comfort as she fell asleep. No biggie. Then she started pulling a little harder. Tiny bald patches appeared. No problem, we put gloves on. She pulled them off. Bald patches spread. We try hats, fuzzy stuffed animals, even a swim cap. Bald "patch" turned to bald "half of head."

At this point I am furiously searching Google for answers and discover that ingesting hair can cause serious intestinal damages. Crap. See, Danger has kind of a history of stomach issues that include three surgeries by the time she was two. But, that's all resolved now and I'll be damned if a little hair twirling is going to compromise that. Enter the clippers.

If I thought the act of shaving her head was hard, I was totally unprepared for how hard it would be afterward. She looks different. People stare. My closest family members have questioned my choice. And, by question I mean calling me a terrible mother and threatening to report me to child services. (I'm pretty sure they were bluffing since the doorbell never rang) Someone asked if she had cancer. Another if she'd had surgery. But, instead of being embarrassed or shamed, I stand strong by the decision. She isn't pulling her hair and now loves the fuzzy blanket that is her new nightly comfort.

And guess what, she doesn't have cancer. How great is that? She also doesn't have stomach problems. She is healthy and more importantly happy. I'd be lying if I didn't get sad that her beautiful curls are gone. In fact I've been reluctant to take Santa photos. But, in the grand scheme, it's just hair. And she will take Santa photos regardless of who stares. And I will show it to her first boyfriend at which point she will probably glare and twirl her fabulous beautiful hair (which if she's anything like her mother she will have dyed about stares).

But, back to the challenge and what I learned from it. First, I will never doubt the choices I've made as a parent in the best interest of my child. But, I kind of knew that already.

The biggest revelation was how much my self worth depends on the judgment of others. Am I doing a good job at work? Is my house clean enough? Am I good mom? Watching people instantly judge Danger based on her physical appearance has opened my eyes to how much control I give to other people's opinions.

I think everyone seeks affirmation and validation from outside sources. But, it took a toddler's happy smile and ease at overcoming any challenge to teach me that strength and joy come from within. She's too young to care what other people think or to know that she should be hindered by a cast. She's unstoppable. And I owe it to her to encourage that. To embody that.

OK, I am not going to shave my head in solidarity or anything. I'm probably not even going to fold that laundry tonight either. But not because I am too busy. Or too tired. Because that's my choice. And I'm confident in that choice.

Unless, of course, you are planning on coming over. In which case give me 20 minutes to sweep away the dust bunnies. And fix my hair. Meh.

Baby steps. After all, I need challenges to overcome for my December 2010 post.


Anonymous said...

I hate to tell you, but you will doubt your decisions as a parent. Not necessarily because you shaved your daughter's head. But doubt comes hand in hand with parenthood. A year into the class you thought would be perfect but your child is struggling for reasons you can't even fathom, you'll wonder: should I have chosen the montessori school? Should I have given it all up to homeschool even though the idea makes me throw up?

You'll doubt whether banning [name your favorite childhood vice] from your home was the right thing. You'll doubt why you fought over that one issue that sent you both crying to your rooms.

You'll get over it. But you'll doubt ... then be assured. Then doubt again. It comes with the territory.

wholly jeanne said...

fold laundry? shoot. i just say wrinkles are the new black. great post. i like your style. (of parenting and writing, i mean)

Liz said...

Excellent #best09 Challenge post :)

amy said...

I loved reading this... I think everyone doubts their parenting choices to a certain extent, but making the thoughtful decision you think is best and not worrying about outside sources is the best you can do as a parent. Thanks for this thoughtful, lovely post. Can't wait to read more!

Erika said...

Your post made me want to jump up and scream "hooray!". I mean, seriously. I want to gush all over how great of a post this is, how you've inspired me for the hour, day, week, and possibly even month.

Oh wait, I just did. You're awesome, this post is perfect, and I'm proud to know you. :)

And Danger? She's freakin' adorable, hair or no hair. I would have made the same call - good for you for researching it and standing up for her, even in the face of they whiney-types. Rah! Rah! :)

Julie Jordan Scott said...

I feel you - and am grateful you rose to this challenge and then rose again to share it with those of us who are doing this fabulous Best09 challenge.

See me standing and giving you an ovation... and for your gorgeous no-hair-for-now-and-its-perfectly-ok. We Mama Warriors need to stick together.

Anonymous said...

Self-doubt can be crippling and you better believe Danger will soak up the lessons that you teach by example. Kudos for stepping up to the challenge of unbinding the ties to other people's approval. It's a life-long process, but your daughter (and you) are amazing and awesome for walking through the world as free as possible. And you'll get to remind her how crucial it is when she comes home crying as a teenager because there's some clique she's not in.

Beautiful post.

Binkytowne said...

Awesome dose of perspective. Nice work!

Tiffany Starnes said...

Thank you so much! I am always a little hesitant every time I hit publish and to receive such positive feedback is overwhelming.

I am sure that next week, and the week after that I will have moments of doubt. And *gasp* odds are I will make the wrong decision. It's been known to happen. Shh. Don't tell my husband.

It is pretty damn nice to know that there are some Mama Warrior out there who've got my back. (PS thanks for that one Julie!)

Champ Superstar said...

I'm sure she looks pretty rockin'. I mean, her name is DANGER. The shaved head just makes her all that more punk. Rock it, Danger!