How (not) to cut hair

When I was little, my best friend’s younger sister wandered into her brother’s room one night, found a pair of misplaced scissors and chopped her hair to the skull on one side of her head. This story obviously became laughable over the years, but for some reason it stuck with me, and not in an entirely laughable way. I have friends who cut their own hair, their kids hair, my hair. It’s nothing to them, but it always terrified me – to be responsible for someone like that. To wield the scissors with finesse, snipping away and evening out the ends with a critical eye.

Confession: We’ve taken Mia to a professional hair stylist once in her five years of existence. Every other time Zach has cut her hair. (He’s one of those “It’s just hair” people.) But I got the nerve to cut it last fall, and we cut more than a trim, and you know what? I was good. It was cute. It framed her face and brushed against her shoulders just so.

New York, 2011

So Friday night as I was putting the boys to bed, Zach trimmed Mia’s hair. And it was fine, if a little uneven. So back into the bathroom we went to even it out. Only this time, just as the scissors began to slice into the damp hair I held between my fingers, Mia whipped her head around, and SNIP. Oh no. This was not a “Oh, no one will notice” oh no. This was a “There is a sizeable gap in the back of her hair” oh no. I had no choice but to even it out.

This is the result.

 

 

 

 

 

Cute? Yes. Does it make her look four years older? Yes, and that is unacceptable. I’m not going to lie — I mourned a little for the hair that was.

But then on Saturday I got a sign. A sign that everything will be okay, and in fact we’re right on trend. And curly, textured hair this length can look good. I got this:

Do you see what I see? But that’s not all. The inside of this Anthropologie catalog is filled with beautiful shots of this model whose hair looks just like Mia’s (save for the color).

Like this one:

*I want this blazer and hat. I’ll take the red lips too.

And this:

And this:

One more. Then I’m done.

I came away with a new resolve. We’re going to do this. We’re going to embrace this and have fun. We’re going to rock this mistake opportunity.

If I can get Mia to sit still long enough to pull a comb through it.

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Perspective on parenthood. And tears.

I bought a magazine yesterday. The kind filled with fall fashion trends and the newest beauty products promising to erase wrinkles and the circles under my eyes. I haven’t bought a (non-parenting) magazine in years. Okay, maybe two years. I love fashion. I love beauty products. I love wrinkle-free skin and eyes that don’t need concealer. And Hollywood Gossip! Who doesn’t love that? I daydream of curling up in bed after the kids are asleep to delve into the glossies, to feel their slippery pages between my fingers and relish in all the wisdom they have to bestow upon me. The problem is that my eyes begin to close before I even open the cover, so I put it on the nightstand where it will remain until I deem it too outdated to read anyway and toss it into the recycle bin. All of this is to say I’m so tired. All the time. And I anticipate being tired for the next decade or so.

Last week the kids were sick. One by one, they came down with colds and fevers. It was the same week that Zach spent a gazillion hours at work. I spent most of my time walking around with a half-sleeping baby in my arms, burning forehead pressed into the crook of my neck, snot oozing down his upper lip until he smeared it across my skin. It didn’t hit Mia until the weekend, and by then my back ached, my muscles were sore, and I felt more resentment toward her than empathy. Just take the medicine, I hissed. Sip, gag, sip, gag. She hated me more with every tiny sip from the plastic cup. I’m only a little ashamed to admit that I cried myself to sleep one night, dreading the morning to come. Of having to do it all over again. Whatever happened to taking care of me? Of washing my face and flossing my teeth? Of wearing clothes without holes and spit-up stains? Of eating a meal that consisted of more than mac and cheese leftovers and apple slices? I was feeling sorry for myself, yes.

And then this happened.

Yesterday I got the news that a dear friend of mine lost her baby in utero. This was her first baby, due in December. There were no reasons, no answers. Just gone.

I spent the rest of the day crying, feeling a rage burning at the injustice of it, unable to concentrate on anything other than the nuts and bolts of the day. I thought back to the week before, of how tired I was, how close to the breaking point I was, how I longed for sleep. And maybe because we’re past that now, but this is what I remember most: Luke, awake, feverish and stuffy in the middle of the night laying on my chest as we stared up at the moon. Wyatt, sweaty curls pressed to my skin, his tiny fingernails trailing up and down my arm. Mia, curled into a ball in her bed, a washcloth damp on her forehead, as she watched Caillou on my Kindle until she could fall asleep. And all of it awash in lullaby music, night lights and the blue haze of twilight.

My friend doesn’t know half of what she’s missing. And that is a blessing.

Paper Man: he’s a survivor

Allow me to introduce you to Paper Man, one of Mia’s latest school projects.

I believe the assignment was benign enough: construct a figure, draw a face, glue on some hearts and eyes (What eyes, you ask? We’ll get to that in a minute), etc. It was only when Mia brought Paper Man to the table after dinner one night that we learned his backstory. And what a riveting story it is.

Turns out Paper Man has been attacked by bull sharks and great whites. 200 times. See that splotch by his left arm that trails down to his foot? That’s his bleeding heart. Those eyes you were wondering about? Gone. Replaced by makeshift eyes that “don’t work, but he gots to have eyes.” The squiggly mass inside the circle on his right knee? His brain. Every other noticeable marking is either bone, stitches, dried blood or skin grafts (or as Mia says, “They had to make new skin for him because the sharks ate it all”). Oh, and if you thought that triangular shape on top of his head is a hat you’d be wrong. It’s a cone, as in conehead. As if the guy didn’t have enough troubles.

Mia assures me Paper Man is done with the water. He’s had enough. He’s going to travel the world in a hot air balloon now. Good call, Paper Man. Good call.

*In totally unrelated news, Zach let her watch Shark Week this summer. I’m so relieved it didn’t have an effect on her at all.

**In his defense, he didn’t let her watch the attack shows, only the ones where they dive with sharks, study them, etc. Still, we’re both banned from ever going into the ocean again per Mia.

Fall: 10 Things

Who doesn’t love fall?

Central Park, New York, 2011

I know that spring is the season best known for beginnings, what with its claims to new life pushing through dry soil and all that, but there’s something about fall that has always signified a new beginning for me. I’m sure this has to do with the return of school buses, the scent of fresh pencil shavings, wet leaves pressed to pavement, warm apple cider, the first fire after a blustering day spent outside. These are some of the things I’m looking forward to this fall:

  1. Few things remind me of fall like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
  2. Well, maybe E.T. I love this movie. There’s nothing “fall” about it other than the season in which it’s set, but it’s just not the same during the dog days of summer. It’s much better viewed snuggled under a cozy blanket with a big bowl of popcorn.
  3. Chocolate chip muffins. I realize there’s nothing specifically fall about these either, but Mia is sick right now and she asked in her sweet little sick voice if we could make them sometime, and who am I to deny a sick child her wish? (I like this version because the addition of the bananas lets me feel less guilty.)
  4. Fall is also known as The Season of Apples, so I’m excited to make these: a more nutritious take on those McDonald’s apple pies.
  5. Sticking with the apple theme, we’re making these caramel apples. Yum.
  6. Pumpkins straight from the pumpkin patch.
  7. I want to make a fall wreath for our front door, DIY style. I’m not known for my DIY prowess but that won’t stop me. We moved into our house last spring and I’ve been wanting to try some DIY projects. Is anything easier than a wreath, what with the pre-made foam round thingies and plethora of online tutorials? How hard can it be? Stay tuned.
  8. Footie jammies. I love me a baby (or two) in warm footies. I love snuggling warm bodies in the early morning. I love the soft pats of their covered feet on wood floors. I love the way they still look like babies in footie jammies even though I think they’re technically toddlers now.
  9. Spiced apple cider. This version is way better than Starbucks.
  10. Colorful leaves, bundled-up kids, crisp apples, comfort food, riding boots, cozy sweaters, football Sundays…Need I go on?

P.S. You’ve heard of Weelicious, right? I mean, right?

In Which I Reflect On Fifteen Months With Twins

I took the boys to the grocery store the other day, something I rarely do because 1) they’re so grabby! and 2) have you ever noticed that most shopping carts have one seat for one baby/toddler? I didn’t before I had twins. Clearly, mothers of multiples are discriminated against by mass market retailers. So, anyway, we were at the store quietly going about our business when a woman rushed up behind me and in one long breath wanted to know the following: are they fraternal (we don’t know), who’s older (Wyatt, by less than a minute), did I go into labor early (define “early”), and are they always this good (define “good”). And the whole time Wyatt flashed his baby blues and beamed up at her, while Luke squinted his into slits and stared her down.

“You have one who laughs at the world and one who studies it,” she said.

It was only later that I realized how spot on she was, which made me think how little I think of them as individuals. (And just when I think I’ve got them all figured out they go and switch personalities on me.) So, in honor of their 15-month birthdays, I am reflecting.

Wyatt,
My Baby A. A boy of light.

Your smile is usually the first thing people remark about you. A wide-open smile that spreads across your face and lights up your eyes. You like people. I mean, you are aware of them, of their attention, their presence, in a way that makes me think you get it. Just It. You say Mama and Hi. You’re working on Down and No. You’re a bubble of laughter and energy, and I can tell you’re going to be funny. You’re always happy, always game, always willing to walk into someone’s arms. You do this movement (a dance?) that resembles a surfer in slow motion. Sometimes you walk backwards just because. You scream. When you’re happy, when you’re mad, when you’re tired or hungry, or in response to other screams or noises that resemble screams. Mia likes to say, “I think our neighbors heard that one.”

The other day when we were playing, you stopped what you were doing like you had just decided something, walked up to me and kissed me square on the mouth. Then you smiled and did it again before moving on. Confession: I don’t remember the first time your sister kissed me and meant it. Luke has yet to do it. But this one? This was one glorious first kiss.

Luke,
My Baby B. A boy of sweetness.

In many ways I consider you our bonus baby. The one we didn’t plan for, the one who took us by surprise. The one who negotiated behind the scenes to come along for the ride. Whereas your brother came into the world screaming (see above), you were silent. “Why isn’t he crying?” I asked. And then the NICU nurse was talking to your Dad, and you were whisked away before I ever saw you (or heard you). You are still the quietest of our three. You’re the cuddliest too, melting into me when I hold you, your head nestled into the crook of my neck, your curls tickling my cheek. You study everything, inspect the workings of toys, crawl into narrow crevices, discover hidden wires, flop on your stomach to investigate the underbellies of furniture.

You’re a pickier eater than your brother but not as picky as your sister. You drop your food off your tray and I say no. You smile. You climb the pillows to get to the window blinds and I say no. You smile. You open drawers, pull out all the contents and I say no. You smile. When I walk into the room you wave with both hands and say, Hiiiiiiii. When you want to be held you say Mama. Had you not come along for the ride, I believe I always would have felt there was another soul out there waiting for us to find him. To find you.

*I had planned to post this two days ago but Luke got sick, then Wyatt got sick. And, as you can imagine, it’s incredibly easy to got loads of stuff done with two little people attached to you at all times.