thin skin and haircuts

Sometimes a haircut is not just a haircut.

As a mom, taking time out for me is not one of my strengths. Like everyone else, I look at other moms and think they have the balance between taking care of children and taking care of themselves all figured out. They seem to not have any trouble or guilt when they take time away for themselves. I see how much better they are for it. And yet, I often don’t realize I need a moment away until I am beyond the point of no return and in a puddle of tears on the phone to my husband. Yesterday was one of those days.

The night before, my husband and I had to work out a conflict between us and although it showed great growth in our relationship, conflict tends to take a lot out of me. Then I got some attitude from my pre-adolescent son which was really not that big of a deal but came directly on the heals of the husband conflict-resolution business and my skin was thinner than usual. I mentioned my lack of appreciation for my son’s attitude to him with a little attitude of my own, afterwards internally chiding myself as I had him. Now my skin was even thinner.

The next day I woke up to discover another reason for my thin skin. Monthly hormonal surge. With my thin skin and raging hormones I had a normal day getting the kids out the door to school. Sometimes I secretly think everyone in my family lives to frustrate me.

My youngest son had a “feast” at his preschool and not having actually read the email that came from the school, in my head I had assumed it would be around snack time, leaving me plenty of time to get to my haircut appointment I got because someone else had canceled which was groovy for me since I had not had my hair cut in over six months and I was going crazy. But when I got to preschool I soon learned that the feast and the hair appointment were scheduled to happen simultaneously. Fantastic.

As I drove away to purchase a new garbage can that we were now responsible for replacing even though it was the claws from the city’s garbage truck that had obliterated the old one, half of me told me I was a selfish beast and the other half reminded me of a truth. The truth is that just when I am feeling as I was at that moment – like everyone needs more of me than I have to give and I am going to suffocate if I don’t get a moment away and do something for myself and yet I feel like the worst mom in the world for missing something like my son’s preschool feast even though my friend was happy to stand-in as his surrogate mom that day – that is usually when I need the moment away the most. Unfortunately, the two halves of me continued to wage war leaving me as collateral damage. Eventually my tortured soul and I arrived at my hair appointment.

Afterwards, I felt like I could breathe. My friend who cuts my hair reminded me that my three year old son was not going to remember that I was not at his feast a week from now. That was actually quite helpful to hear.

As I drove back to the preschool with my shorter hair and lungs that felt like they could actually take in air, I realized that sometimes a haircut is not just a haircut. It is a small victory in the battle of loving my family and loving me at the same time. I don’t know why those two activities seem mutually exclusive, but in my life they seem to only co-exist in the most delicate of tensions. It was a reminder that I am not God and I do not have to be God for my children, as much as I occasionally convince myself otherwise. I can be human. I can need. I can get a haircut. And the world does not fall apart. And I might just come back with normal skin again.