Tag Archives: Natural Hair

Black Beauty

Hope was home for the recent holiday, and while she was here, she decided to cut her hair. Hope had decided some time ago that she regretted relaxing her hair and wanted to “go natural” again. After about 7 months of growing it out, we snipped off the relaxed ends and basked in the glory that is now her little Afro.

Ok, so maybe I basked; Hope seemed beside herself with shock, anxiety and the ever present teen worries about how others would see her.

When Hope came to home nearly 5 years ago, she had a lot of hair that I lovingly nurtured right on down to her shoulders. It was not chemically treated. I twisted it, coiled it, braided it, did all kinds of things with it. Hope was really proud of her hair; she got a lot of compliments. She learned to really embrace how her naturally curly, coily hair looked.

Hope has thick hair. It’s not just that each strand is thick; there are also a lot of strands. I swear when I first started doing her hair, I thought I was wrestling a carpet!

As she got older, and I shifted more of the burden of doing her hair to her, things got…difficult. My daughter’s care-taking abilities didn’t produce the same results, and eventually she decided that she wanted to relax it.

I hated the idea. I wanted her to love her hair and to learn to properly care for it. It had been years since I’d given up relaxing my own hair, and there was a part of me that took it really personally that my daughter wanted to relax her hair.

I had failed to promote the beauty of our hair.

I had failed to foster a sense of pride in our hair in its natural state.

I had failed to cultivate a sense of beauty that didn’t adhere to Euro-centric beauty norms.

I had failed to get her to love herself.

In spite of these failures, I also support one’s ability to wear their hair however they please. So, I asked her hair dresser to relax her hair.

Oh there was lots of hair swinging. There were smiles. There was hair flipping. Hope’s hair grew and then…all the things that happened before the relaxer happened. Poor maintenance; lazy care, heat damage, split ends and breakage. There were a couple of heavy “trims” that took inches off.

And I was spending a small fortune getting her hair done.

We ended up in the same place as before, which made me feel as though my prior failures had been confirmed in this hair relaxing exercise.

Then one night I was watching hair videos on YouTube when Hope said she regretted relaxing her hair. She thought it would be easier, but it wasn’t.

I still have teeth marks on my tongue from where I nearly bit it off so as not to say, “I told you so!”

So she begin the journey to grow her hair out with the first major development happening during her fall break.

I’m delighted that she grew her hair out and that she wants to embrace the fullness and textures of her natural hair. That said, I know that rocking a teeny weeny Afro (TWA) is a shock at first. You see all your other features and you can feel weird about them.

Is my forehead really that big?

Were my ears so noticeable when my hair was longer?

I swear my acne was not this noticeable with bangs.

My nose is big.

My skin is so dark.

My teeth are big.

I need earrings to distract from this.

I don’t like the way I look.

People will make fun of me.

I’m never going to look like Becky (No, you’re right and you’re not supposed to.)

It’s all so loaded. Helping her reframe her thoughts about beauty is hard. Helping her think about the fact that six months from now she will have a lot more hair is hard. Helping her believe that she doesn’t need to “fix” anything is hard.

Self-acceptance is hard at almost any age; it’s especially hard at 17.

I think she’s stunning. Her chocolate skin is dark and creamy. Her almond shaped eyes sparkle. With the hair away from her face, her acne quickly faded. I finally was able to coax a pair of small, classy earrings on her. With her militaristic posture and figure I’d kill for, I think she’s an 18 out of 10.

But to hear her tell it, I’m mom so none that counts.

Understanding how oppression shapes even the way we see our beauty is exhausting; really, it is. Teaching that…it’s not only exhausting but also infuriating. I silently rage thinking about the fact that my daughter questions her beauty because kinky coily hair isn’t universally seen as gorgeous. I cut my eyes at the folks at her school who looked perplexed like they weren’t sure to compliment Hope when she returned rocking her afro. I nearly cried when she cast her eyes down when she saw folks see her hair for the first time.

Hope is gloriously gorgeous. She already doesn’t know how lovely she is; the short hair is a radical change that makes her glow. She doesn’t believe that though.

That’s not my fault even though I feel like I failed in instilling that.

It’s all of our faults. That nearly exclusive white standard of beauty is so embedded in our psyche that our brown and black kids hardly know and appreciate African diasporic beauty when they see it. And that makes me sad and mad, really mad.

I look forward to the day when my daughter looks in the mirror, smiles at her reflection and turns on her heels to go knowingly, purposefully slay us all.

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Easter Weave

Back in January, one of Hope’s monthly “Try’s” was to do her own hair. Well, she has done her hair ever since, pretty much.

Her hair has broken about two inches since she started doing it. Over-manipulation, lacking moisturizing routine, too much heat and pulling and tugging from blow drying in an attempt to get her hair “straight.”

I try to gently coach her. I sent her YouTube videos that she never watched (maybe if they had been in Vine form…). I talked to her about products. I also encouraged her to be sure to wrap her hair at night so that it didn’t dry out.

I tried not to nag as I saw Hope’s beautiful hair lying around in tufts in her room.

It was like talking to a wall.

Last week, I sat Hope down and really talked to her about her routine after she complained that her hair seemed so much shorter than it was before. I tried to be supportive and encouraging.

Last week, I put crochet braids in (not the first time); she decided that she didn’t like them and took them out after two days.

Sigh. Ok.

Yesterday, I put crochet braids in again, with bouncy, curly weave.  It took 7 hours—SEVEN HOURS!!!  (Did I mention my left wrist has severe carpal tunnel syndrome and I’ve battling tendonitis in this hand for 2 months???)

Hope has been begging for weave since she moved in because, of course, she’s been brainwashed into thinking that she will be beautiful only if she has long, bouncy, loose waved hair.

Right.

I have been resistant to the whole weave thing. No shade to folks who wear it; I just don’t. I don’t care for it myself, and I really wanted Hope to embrace her natural hair.  But since we really needed to give her hair a rest with a protective style, I rounded up some weave and put it in.

Moments after finishing, she started complaining.

She decided she didn’t like the curl pattern. She didn’t like the length. She was “stuck” with this hair. She went on and on with some pretty nasty comments.

I was slathering on a topical pain medication while grimacing.

I replied with encouraging statements. Yes, it’s different, but she looks lovely. Yes, it’s different, but it’s pretty sophisticated. And on and on.

She replied that she really didn’t like “different.”

Sigh. Here we go.

She got up this morning complaining again.

I took a deep breath and just said, fine. After church we can take it out. I won’t do it again. I will provide her with the products and the tools to be successful. I am exhausted balancing my physical sacrifice to meet her hair needs.

Hair is such an important part of an individual’s identity. I get it. I really do. I want Hope to feel beautiful; I want her to have healthy hair. I occasionally want the intimacy that comes with doing her hair. But I am going to step back from this as well and let the natural consequences play out.

If she ends up with short hair, she ends up with short hair.

If she ends up with long healthy hair, she ends up with long healthy hair.

Today hair will be a parking lot battle (as opposed to a mountain battle).  I don’t bother dying in parking lot battles.

I’ll help her take the hair out this afternoon, and then I will take some pain meds for my hand and be done with it.

OverIt

 

 


I Must Look Amazing

It’s hard to believe that me and Hope have been together for 2 years now. Sometimes it feels like forever, and other times it feels like the blink of an eye.

I was so excited when she came to live with me that her hair was natural. I also remember the first time I took her braids out and did her hair. It took me 5 hours. Detangling it was like grooming a Yeti. As the months passed, Hope and I relished the routine and the ritual of doing hair on the weekends. It was a time of the week when I wholly and completely took care of her. It was primal, really. It was an experience that she had rarely enjoyed before I became her mother, so she really relished the time and attention.

Until I suggested wearing her hair out, natural, in a regular old twistout done on wet hair.

Until this week.

Now, keep in mind that I had encouraged her to embrace her curly mane. She has gorgeous, thick curly hair. It’s grown a lot in the last two years under my care and attention.

Last month, I made her *try* to care for it herself, with little to no assistance from me.

Well, she blew it out most weeks, because she likes the stretched look.

Cool. I gave her a few bottles of heat protectant and told her to have at it.

She complained that doing a twist out on wet hair was just too much shrinkage. Too nappy. Too this, too that.

Ok. Rock on.

But leave it to laziness to be the mother of invention and trying.

Running out of time this weekend, she decided to try a twistout on wet hair.

It was glorious, but I only told her it looked nice because I knew if I gushed too much then she would bail on it.

We visited my parents, and Sister K visited with her sons; Hope’s cousins told her that her hair look fantastic.

And well, they are boys, Hope’s prime focus group.

She commented that her cousins liked her hair on the drive back to NoVa, and I knew that this was a vital piece of data.

And contrary to my loquacious nature, I kept my comments to myself and my piehole shut.

After two extra days home (Presidents’ Day and a snow day) Hope returned to school today rocking this ridiculously fly, curly, parted afro. Frederick Douglass would be proud.

She glammed out with jewelry and makeup with her flannel shirt, skinny jeans and sneakers.

When she got home, she casually commented that her classmates inquired about her hair—who did it, the name of the salon, why did she look so fly today, why hadn’t she wore her hair like this before…and on and on.

I raised one eyebrow to show I was intrigued by the line of inquiry, but I kept my mouth shut.

She went on about how the kids loved her hair and that it MUST be the coconut oil she used, because she really didn’t do anything different.

#eyeroll #chileplease

I simply nodded.

We went to her band concert. Again, on the drive home, she regaled me with stories about how her band mates loved her hair.

She concluded, “Huh, I must look amazing today.”

I smiled and nodded, “Yeah, you look good.”

Never mind two years of prodding, coaxing, product purchasing…two years after moving in, my daughter is rocking her mane of hair in all its fabulous, awesome glory.

Inside I am beaming.

I am also grateful for the cosign of the male cousins who validated Hope in a safe way. Kudos.

I can’t wait to see what she does next, and how she will embrace herself next.

I know that I will be sure to remain supportive but patient in getting Hope to love herself, as she is, with no filter.

In the midst of a lot of crazy today, my afro wearing kid totally made my day.


Doing This

At least once a day I sit around and wonder, “What the heck am I doing?”  OK, really, there’s usually some sort of full on expletive in place of “heck,” but I digress.

Because Hope and I often surf from one crisis to another, the mundane often feels so elusive to us.  You know, I try to maintain key daily routines but still I’m often wondering is this crisis thing just our normal?

For how long?

Forever? #Outkast

outkast

When the crises cease, will Hope and I even know how to go forward without a bunch of drama? Who knows.

In the meantime, what’s this mom to do? #sigh

We are paddling on a log wave crisis right now, and we’re in the midst of a short lull.  It’s allowed me to focus on just trying to maintain a safe, loving place for us–her and me.  I don’t feel like I get to intentionally focus on that much with everything always on DEFCON 1. This past week was a close to normal as I feel like we’re going to get for the foreseeable future.

And I probably didn’t do anything special but try a little harder to just practice chillin’.

I listened.  We are deep, deep  I say, into the first love around here.  Ugh. It. Is. Torture.  And I’d like to put this little punk under the wheel of my car and make him into a Lifetime Movie that doesn’t end well for him.  I’ve given consistent messaging about self-worth and self-respect, but mostly I’ve shut my pie-hole and listened.

Holy Homeboy I’m tired of hearing about this boy and his shenanigans. Tie-erd, I say.  But the more I stayed silent, the more Hope talked about her emotional struggles with the epicness of the heart crushing first love.  I wish she could articulate like this about her other struggles.  But Hope talked and talked.  And she was happy to talk.  And I managed to be some kind of lamp post on her raggedy road to middle school love.

Side Note: Boyfriend betta be glad that Elihu lurks with a level head…he’s mad protective, but bless him, he prays on the regular to keep a level head. I however, do not, subscribe to such discipline, which is why I will be at the school recklessly eyeballing this punk during band class this week.

I helped her cook.  She got some new cookbooks for Christmas, so Hope chose a dinner menu; I bought the necessary ingredients. I played sous chef as she attempted to make her first potato soup, and I helped her fix it when the recipe revealed itself to not provide the best outcome (milk soup with potato lumps?).  We avoided a kitchen meltdown, learned about improvisation, and had a lovely dinner with good chatter (see me listening above).

I did her hair. Hope has mostly wanted to wear her hair in twists this last year.  She wants her hair to grow long, really long.

willow-hair

Recently she asked me to take down her twists, blow her hair out and flat iron it.

And I did.

On my birthday. #dammit

It took 4+ agonizing hours.

Did I mention this was on *my* birthday?

My feet hurt, my legs hurt, I hurt.

But she was thrilled with her long, bouncy hair.  Nevermind that her hair needs to be trimmed and shaped.  Nevermind that she was serving first lady of Greater Mt. Zion-Calvary-Horeb/United/AME/Pentecostal/COGIC/Baptist/High Baptist (with gloves on the ushers)/Potter’s House/Temple with Rev. Dr. Bishop Jerome presiding realness; all she needed was a church hat and a doily to toss across her knees. #lawdhafmercy

churchlady

She was so happy. Absurdly happy.  Some kid at school told her she looked like a Black Marilyn Monroe. #idiedlaughing

And I’ll do it all again this week.  Fun times (#sideeye); I’m taking some ibuprofen this time and putting that round brush to work.  #beenwatchingdominicanyoutubevideos

Next week is back to curly twist outs.

I cut her some slack. I gave her some space.  I let her be sad.  I gently reminded her of her chores.  When wacky stuff turned up on the random cell phone check, I didn’t flip out. I gave her lots of hugs.  I just thought about all the stuff she’s got floating around in her head, and I cut her some slack.

And we’re better for it.

Parenting isn’t easy, and despite what some folks say, not every day is the best day of your life.  #realtalk There are some really crappy days along the way. But we’re doing this.  Day by day, step by step.

We’re doing this.


I Cut My Hair

That’s right. I big chopped this week after almost three years of growing out my hair. I’m now rocking a nice contoured curly fro that maintained much of the length on the crown and cropped the sides and back down to about an inch of hair. I debuted my cut on the most recent episode of Add Water and Stir (see what I did there with the shameless podcast plug?)

It’s rather dramatic. I needed dramatic. I needed a change.

Years ago I read an interview that Lenny Kravitz (YUMMERS!) did shortly after he cut his dreads; he said cutting his hair was a kind of emotional release. He was able to let “stuff” bound up in his hair go and make a clean emotional slate.

Yassssss!

Yassssss!

Yeah, given I’m down with just about anything that my boo Lenny could ever possibly utter, I never forgot that little gem. I thought about it a lot over the years.

In fact, before going natural, I kept my hair cut short. I rocked a pixie cut for years. Loved it. It was easy and framed my face well.

But when I went natural so much of the discussions swirling around were and are about length achievement. Shoulder length, bra strap length, boob length, waist length. Length, length, length. So, even though I’m not really a follower by nature, I set about to let my hair grow out and see what happened.

At three years it was shoulder length when I blew it out, which was rare. #lazynaturals #aintgottimeforallthat

It took forever to dry; I had to wash and set my style before 9pm if I had a hope of being able to take twists down.

And then Hope came.

Hahah, getting to washing and styling by 9pm became a pipe dream. Then the shedding started. Gobs of hair. I tried tea rinses. I tried some protective styling (which really isn’t my thing). Then it started breaking.

Stress is such a b*tch; I swear the stress of just being was just wearing my hair out. (My body too; I’ve gained weight and don’t get me started on the emotional eating). My hair was becoming another problem to fret about, and there was a lot of emotion caught up in it. The negative changes seemed to put me on a path to think I was failing at caring for and growing out my hair. Since I think I fail at a lot of things these days, this just was added to the list.

It didn’t occur to me to cut my hair because I wanted to nurture Hope’s confidence in wearing her natural hair. I wanted her to embrace it. It was something we had in common—growing our natural hair and embracing its beauty.

But things really changed during the last month or so. Hope, always needing to win at something developed this absurd competitive streak about our hair journey.

“I think my hair might be longer than yours this week.”

“It’s not, but it’s not a competition. It’s just hair.”

“But I want long hair and I think that will make it beautiful.”

“Your hair is already beautiful. If we keep your hair healthy then your hair will grow long, but length won’t make it beautiful. It’s already beautiful.”

She wasn’t buying it. And I was getting tired of having this same conversation each week.

So, last week I started searching for the perfect cut. I settled on a few pictures, called up my old hairdresser at the Hair Cuttery and rolled in after work one day this week.

Chop, chop, snip, snip.

My head is lighter and I feel like I let some emotional energy go. I feel good. It dries faster, the curls are popping and I am wondering what took me so long to just go whack it off. I needed a change and I needed short hair in my life.

My boo Lenny was so right, but how could he ever be wrong??? #heyboohey

Hope, meh, is not really feeling it, but she is happy she’s now definitively winning the length war that I’ve walked away from.

I plan to get another shape up in 8 weeks. I’m keeping it short. I’m glad that I did something dramatic for myself. And today, I’m going to splurge and pick up a FitBit or comparable little overpriced activity tool. I need to get healthy and take better care of myself. The emotional overwhelm of the last 7 months shows on my waistline badly. So that’s the next task of change that I am committing to, right now, today.

#TreatYoSelf


Episode 5 of Add Water is Live!

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

The latest episode of Add Water and Stir, Take Your Time, We’ll Wait, is live!

Last week Mimi of Complicated Melodi and I welcomed relative new comer Future Adopter from A Sista’s Guide to Adoption to talk all about all the waiting involved in the adoption process.  The episode includes lots of good stuff about length of wait times, emotions associated with waiting and how folks keep themselves busy until their bundles of joy arrive.

In the Wine Down (which I’m thinking we totally need to trademark and during which my homies had me drinking alone this week—the horror!), we ladies dish about Love and Hip Hop:ATL couple Wacka Flocka and Tammy’s fertility issues, Kim K-Dash’s whimsical desire to adopt a Thai tween while vacationing, and the latest on Married at First Sight.  As usual, we wrap up with our recommendations for the week!

Peep us on:

Towards the end of the podcast, poor Future Adopter experienced a power outage that ended her connection.  Don’t worry I’m sure we’ll have her back on the show at a later time to see how she’s progressing through the adoption process!  We are happy she was able to join us last week!  🙂

And yes, my recommendations actually included “grease,” aka Blue Magic this week.  This naturalista’s hair likes it; nay, it LOVES it!  What can I say, petroleum and mineral oil are my friends. #shrug #dowhatsrightforyourhair #itsalsocheap

Blue Magic Conditioner Hair Dress, 12 oz.

This image is for Mimi!


What Happened and What Didn’t

I just did a lessons learned recap that covered more than a week so I thought I’d share some highlights of the last couple of days that just seems to be a good commentary on where were are on our journey.

Our Super Bowl trip has been booked! The end of June promises to be a time for big celebrations around these parts. My degree completion, the end of Hope’s school year, her birthday and finalization of our adoption. So what do folks do to celebrate so many events? Go to Disney World of course.

I actually hate Orlando (no offense to anyone who’s from there or currently reside there). But Disney is a bit of stimulation overload coupled with an outrageous mouse tax. Fortunately, we’re staying with a friend and we look forward to the days enjoying the sun, beach (Daytona) and the big rat’s park.

God has jokes. I know I mentioned on a previous blog that Hope recently asked me to read her a bedtime story at night. This is something that’s been integrated into our evening routine. This weekend we hit the library to check out a few things and I picked up some evening reading for us. At some point yesterday I found myself rooting around in a closet where I found this gem.

God's got jokes making me buy this book years before I needed it.

God’s got jokes making me buy this book years before I needed it.

I bought it years ago. Actually I bought 3 of them. I gave two away and have been searching for a kid to give this book to for several years now. Ha! Well, I don’t have to look any further since I read my lovely princess a story from it tonight. You just don’t know the plans God has for your life. He had me scoop up this book probably 4 or 5 years ago, only to have me trip over it after my 12 year old daughter asked me to read to her nightly. I have long believed that God is going to send an Isaac into my life since I am so aware of how he jokes me.

Hope’s hair is growing. So Hope’s hair has been out of the braids now for about two months. We’ve got a routine down now—full wash on Sunday evenings in preparation for the week. I’m a lazy naturalista. I don’t fret over products. I don’t put too much heat to my hair because I’m lazy not because I’m afraid of heat damage. I’ve taken increasingly to wearing fro’d out twist outs and when my hair is stretched scooping it back into a banana clip.

I have to blow Hope’s hair out for her twist outs. We’ve tried wet twists, and let’s just say no one is happy about the results—lots of sucky sighing. We’ve discovered that el cheapo ORS Smooth and Hold Pudding works well as a styler for both of us. It’s great; not too heavy and leaves her hair shiny. Not my favorite product on my hair, but it’s good.

Hope wants long hair. She’s is frustrated by shrinkage. I have to blow her hair out again mid-week just to loosen things up a bit. But I’ve been snapping pics along the way. Top left-first day post braids before I trimmed those see through ends off. Pink shirt about a month ago. White shirt is today.

So much hair!

So much hair!

I can’t wait to show her the progress, especially when every few days she’s stretching and saying, “I think it’s to my jaw line now.”

She wants to do a memory project with me. While standing in the Dollar Tree today, Hope describe a craft project in which we capture memories in a wooden box from this time and put them away to show to her future kids. It was so sweet. She has written out a plan and everything. Next weekend we’ll hit the Lowe’s to make this project a reality.

I put together an emergency anxiety kit. I should’ve done this ages ago. It’s got a silly putty, a stress ball, a backup external charger for electronic devices and a granola bar. Into a Ziploc and Into the purse it goes. We had a bit of a social meltdown on Friday and I thought to myself, “You’re a mom, you don’t even have baby wipes, what the hell is wrong with you???” Now I’ve got things that help her manage stress, which helps me manage my stress.

Movies in her bedroom are the gift that keeps giving. She really would prefer to watch things with me on the big tv but there is something decadent about watching a DVD in her room that is a special treat. It’s a treat that gave me 5 hours that included an adult beverage, 5 chapters of a trashy novel, several episodes of Will and Grace #justjack and several episodes of Designing Women #lightsoutinGA. She actually went to bed on her own and fell asleep watching Finding Nemo. It was awesome.

We had not one fight. Not one fight or bickering moment. I’m starting the week with such a positive outlook. I can’t wait to see her smile tomorrow.

In the words of Ice Cube, “Today was a good day.”


Hairy Times

So last night we took out Hope’s braids, and today she stepped out as a full blown naturalista! OMG, she’s so adorable I can barely stand it! It was another 5+ hour ordeal, taking out the braids, detangling, cleansing, conditioning, blowing drying, paddle brushing and dry twisting. Around hour 4, my back was killing me, and I must’ve started huffing a little when my girl said, “Thank you for doing my hair. No one has ever taken the time to take care of it like you. It feels so good when you do it, not like [former foster mom].”

I nearly started crying; then I woman’ed up and kept plowing through. The truth is, I love having my hands in her head; there’s a special bonding that happens when I do her hair.

Look at these lovely blown out locks…

Hope'sHair
As I began to twist her hair, I could tell she was getting anxious. We took a break so she could get her silly putty, which she uses to cope. After we were done, I sat down next to her on her bed and asked her why she was so anxious.

“Suppose I mess it up? Suppose it doesn’t look like yours? I can’t do anything right, so I’ll probably mess this up too.”

Oh dear, self-esteem, self-worth meltdowns before bed. My sweet Hope has so much healing to do. Good Lord chile, you can’t mess up the dry twist out!!

So we had another chat about it just being hair. #pagingIndiaArie #Iamnotmyhair It’s beautiful if for no other reason than it grows out of your lovely head. It will grow. It is and will be lovely. It will be coily and sometimes kinky and you’ll learn all about yourself through your hair.

“I don’t know what I really look like…you know without braid weave. I am excited about seeing what I look like. But supposed I don’t like it?”

Yeah, ok, so it took me a while to like my hair after I went natural. It made me see myself differently.

“I want my hair to be like yours…you know without the gray. #justalittleshade

I smile, yeah, I know…without the gray. #justalittlesideeye

It will be beautiful, I tell her before tucking her in.  So, fast forward to this morning with more anxiety.

“I’m sure I messed it up.”

Hope, how could you mess it up when all you did was sleep with your cap on?

“I dunno, but I know I messed it up.”

Sigh.  Of course her hair was lovely. I’m jealous actually. Her thick hair embraced those twists, gave off a shine, great definition and is super moist.

She scrunched her nose as she peered into the mirror, turning side to side. I got out the pick and fluffed and fluffed. I got a sparkly headband from my stash and popped it on her head. She smiled.

“It’s so short. Is it nappy? Is this an afro?”  It does appear shorter—shrinkage! No, it isn’t nappy, but there’s nothing wrong with it being nappy. No, this isn’t an afro.

“Hmmm. I like it!”

She didn’t just say it, she declared it. But then she said she looked plain, so I suggested that we style her for our trip to the bank and to the Peeps store. We pulled out all her little jewelry, picked some earrings, a necklace, a ring and some bracelets.

She was blinged out. #happyandyouknowitclapyourhands

“Yeah, I need to be sure to put on a few things when I wear my hair out.”

I smile.

It’s rainy here today, so I told her that it might look different in an hour (or 10 minutes..sigh!), but it will be fine. I told her that her hair would look different tomorrow too, as the hair stretches.

So we head out and bump into our neighbor who raved and the concierge who raved. We talked about how free her head and hair felt.  She enjoyed her hair, her new look.

I know we will have more anxiety about the hair, but today was a lovely hair day. Just awesome. Hope saw herself today and liked what she saw today. She didn’t “mess it up.” She felt good about herself.

Hope was successful today.  I love this kid.

ABM&Hope


Living Rooms, Kinky Coils & Mama/Daughter Bonding

So, I’ve made an appointment for Hope to get her hair braided this weekend, but first we had to take out her current braids, wash, condition and blow out her hair to prep it.  I’ve been eager to do this since she got here.  I wear my hair in its natural state: curly, kinky, coily; so does Hope, but most of the time her hair is hidden away in braids.  I wanted to learn more about Hope by doing her hair.  I also wanted to have the little girl/mommy time that comes with doing hair.

When I was a child, my mom washed my hair in the kitchen sink while I stood on a small chair.  Then she painstakingly blew out my hair with a hair dryer, followed by getting it straight using a comb heated on an eye of the stove.  She would then either braid our hair or put it up in ponies.  The whole process took about 2 hours—I had a lot of hair.  Then she’d tackle my two younger sisters’ heads, both of whom, at various times, had hair down to their waists.  Grammy was tired after it was all over, but she loved to see us with our hair all fresh and styled up.

There was an intimacy in those moments that I now more deeply appreciate.  I always trusted Grammy to make me pretty.  We would sometimes talk or even sit in silence, but getting my hair done on that small chair in the kitchen with Grammy was my time with her during hectic weekends.  I had her undivided attention.  She would fret over the health of my scalp and hair.  She would cluck if she used too much heat on my hair or nicked my ear with the hot comb (long before flat irons).  She would wail when I took scissors to it mid-week to cut crooked, too short bangs because she had to figure out how to help me hide them until they grew out.  Even though it was a chore, it was something so selfless that Grammy did to care for me and to make me pretty.  Looking back it was a special thing we shared.

I wanted to share that with Hope.  I had to use a dining room chair in the living room instead of a tiny kiddie chair in the kitchen, but I got it done.

It took an hour to take Hope’s braids out, and more than 30 minutes to detangle it and get all the shed hair out (which incidentally was a lot, like think yeti).

I explained why I don’t use shampoo to cleanse (I find it too drying for my curly tresses), and yes, Hope, I go through large quantities of conditioner.

I explained that I don’t use towels on my hair because my hair can catch in the terry loops and break; instead I buy t-shirt fabric since the nap is gentler on my hair.

Yes, Hope, I use olive oil and coconut oil at various stages of the ‘hair-doing’ process.  No, coconut oil does not smell like a pina colada, like you might think; it used to though.  No, I don’t know why that old coconut oil grease used to smell like that.

I listen when she says she has “bad” hair (meaning it’s very kinky or coily, not straight), and I try to educate her that there is no such thing as “bad” hair.   Her dark brown and black curly hair is lovely.  And it’s so very thick.  It lies down at the first sign of heat, though.

I listen when she feeds me the line, “When my hair is blown out, it’s down my back.”  She has a lot of shrinkage, but it is not down her back.  It takes me back to the short haired girls who used to tell me that same line, when I arrived at school on Mondays with my long ponies swinging.  I remember how I couldn’t understand that science of how their hair could be longer than mine.  It wasn’t.   It never really mattered, but I see it for the self-esteem/self-identity issue it really is now.  I see Hope struggling with long hair desires, too.  She asked me for a weave earlier this week.  I said no. I’m not anti-weave, I just don’t think she needs a weave at 12.

Yes, you need to try to learn what your hair likes and what it needs to make it thrive.   I have gone through many products; we’ll figure out what your hair likes.

‘Oh, so the scalp massage feels good?”

She almost fell asleep, cooing how good it felt.

“Oh you like the paddle brush too?”

Hope begs me to keep brushing her strands after her blowout.

I explain why I need to trim her broken ends.   I don’t have to cut as much as I thought.

I explain what a twist out is, and how it’s usually how I style my hair.  I set her hair similarly.

Please, hold your head up. #phraseinheavyrotation

I am sad that her lovely tresses will be hidden in braids again by this time tomorrow.  She can keep them for 3 weeks, but then I want to have this experience again.  I need to  experience this with her again.

I want to coach my little naturalista to love herself and her hair.

That was five hours (yes, Lawd—FIVE!!!) of near bliss.


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