I recently heard through a friend a reaction to one of my more wilder hair color experiments that a young woman we both know stated she’d considered doing a wild shade of hair, but being a mom was a reason not to.
I felt a multitude of emotions upon hearing this, everything from annoyance (at being judged) to pity to anger to sadness. I even felt humor. Annoyance because I was judged by someone (again) based on my looks, pity that this twenty-something child was so closed minded, anger and sadness that they fell back on that ideal as a reason to not do something for themselves, and humor because I’d let a twenty year old kid I actually dislike intensely get to me.
The fact is, and those of you who know me can attest to this, I don’t give a shit what your opinion is on how I look. I’ve often been judged on my appearance: I’ve surprised people by my level of intelligence: “What? You actually have a brain?” and “Just stand there and look pretty.” are two comments I’ve received far too frequently in my thirty-eight years on this earth. I’ve heard comments that can be summed up by two words: “Fat bitch” and “Skinny bitch” have been two frequent comments, along with “Bet she stuffs” and very hilariously, someone asking me who my plastic surgeon was, because they sooooo wanted him to give her my boobs (said boobs were actually grown naturally and are credited to my biological parents’ DNA, thank you for that Ellen and Charlie).
Mainly, I felt offended.
Motherhood doesn’t erase who we are.
Sadly, I’ve seen this happen far too often: snakeskin pants are packed up, piercings removed, tattoo cover kits are purchased. Lace underwear sets are tossed in the trash for boring cotton numbers. Hair is chopped off into a standard bob, and mini-vans become the choice vehicle to have.
Back in 2005, I was shopping with a family member. When I picked up a lace thong and bra set, she freaked out and reminded me I was a mother. I reminded her that life post-placenta did not erase the fact I was still a woman.
I thrive on my life as a mother: for me, raising my three children is the reason I was put on this earth. I love spending time with my three children, whether its one-on-one with them or as a group. I love hearing their thoughts on everything from art to life to pancakes. I’d rather not hear them whine, but even that has the benefit of knowing they’re growing exactly as they should be. I don’t even mind doing their laundry. They are the very breath that I breathe, and their faces are my heart and soul. My life would not be worth living if they were not in this world.
I’ll admit my naval ring was removed during my pregnancy with Amethyst. When faced with the realization that if I grew any more the ring would rip out due to my expanding belly, I took the smart (and pain free option) of removing it. And those snakeskin pants I placed on the high shelf in my closet went there because I was no longer a size two.
But Amethyst taking her first breath in our world didn’t erase who I am at my core: a woman who is creative and slightly crazy and full of life and passion. My need to be out there in the world and create with my mind and decorate my body with piercings and art work never changed. In many ways, motherhood reaffirmed the necessity to remain true to myself: how better else is there to teach my children honesty than by being who I truly am?
In many ways, the world we live in is based on a set of ideals that only works for a small bit of the people inhabiting it: we’re told from a young age that we need to be “normal” except we’re not given a say in the matter. And women sadly add to this load of shit by giving into the idea that motherhood means you need to put yourself on the back burner and subscribe to khaki pants and bobbed hair cuts and drive mini vans and wear pearl stud earrings. If you like the khakis and pearls, by all means wear them. But don’t hide your past away from your present and future self. Don’t give up those things that so define you because you’ve passed a placenta. Lying to yourself is the worst type of lie there is, because you’re killing your spirit and letting yourself go.
And using motherhood as an excuse to hide behind as to why you’re not dying your hair a bright color or getting a tattoo or a piercing or returning to finish your education or finding a half hour every week as a space of time for yourself is a fat load of bullshit. The reality is, you’re using it as an excuse to hide behind your own cowardice at not being accepted.
Whether or not the person who made the comment that they weren’t dying their hair because they’re a mother was taking a dig at the fact that I’m a mother to three children and should know better (bite me please), or whether they were just trying to excuse away their lack of freedom, it doesn’t matter. If its the first one? Well, feel free to pass this along: Fuck you. I know myself. My children are healthy, happy, compassionate, and are going to bring some wonderful to the world we live in. If its the second: please pull your head out of your ass and do what you need to do for you and stop giving up yourself for some set ideals you’ve never questioned.
I’ve passed three placentas in my life. And I might not always do the right thing. In fact, I might fuck it up royally. But at the end of the day, I can look in the mirror and honestly state I’ve been true to myself. And that my hair is fuckin’ awesome.