Somehow when they took those baby soft curls, it also stripped away the illusion once held that I somehow still had babies. Two boys emerged, proud of their new appearance and unfazed by the change. While I had to sit a bit and bite my lip, holding back a surge that insisted they could not grow up, how could I let them? Not that I could stop them.
Owen was born a boy. At 6 months old I understood this feeling, the day he decided to stand up on the edge of the couch unassisted. My dad saw him and called him a toddler, I recall the wild feeling coming up and my snappish reply that he was just a baby, but I realized I could see the boy emerging already. He was taking a stand and this not even metaphorically. I cut his hair at 18 months, collecting curls, sad to see them gone forever as his thick darker hair grew out ruler straight, still silky but without that indescrible baby lightness.
Mace has always been the baby. If I would have delivered natural, he would have been first, nestled in the bowl of my pelvis scratching to get out from the day he could scratch. But they came via incision and Owen was first, pulled into firstborn due to position and size of head. Mace has always been one and a half pounds lighter, his build is slight like his father, and he bruises easier and takes longer to shake it off. And so in my mind he is ascribed baby brother status, though only one minute younger.
I was not truly prepared to meet the boy hidden under that head of wild curls, postponed the haircuts many days over. But also in Owens’s case, I forgot how much boy was hidden behind the too long bangs that obscured his vision. Cutting it seems to have released something, longer sentences and complicated pronunciation, complex play scenarios and even more independence. Or maybe I am just now acknowledging these changes. Forced by an event as inconsequential as a hair cut.
Mamahood can be so much about loss. Initially, you lose control of your body as it becomes haven to a growing being, foreign until they emerge to become your people. Then you lose your time, any moment you once had to sit and think and shower and brush your teeth consumed by the demands of infancy and helplessness. You may regain some of this lost time, but then comes the slow thorough loss of sanity as the new demands of toddler hood and two-ness march in, an endless flurry of messes and challenges.
But I did not quite expect to feel this loss, the one of the moving away of your child. The way each step towards growth brings a small step away from the comfortable bond that is established when your tiny little one only knows your embrace, not your commands and stern looks. I feel a bit foolish describing it as a loss, but it is the way it feels.
I watch my youngest brother Jon pack for his imminent move to San Francisco today, ready to charge into a city, a new life, his first true taste of independent living. And I feel indescribable panic. Because I remember his birth, his infancy, his toddler days….but only vaguely. And seemingly yesterday. And now he goes. And it makes me know my children will too. I want them too. And yet, that mother heart of mine does not.
All this because of a hair cut.