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Going Gray For My Girls
It's where I hold all my wisdom
Author pictured with her daughter
(Originally written in 2021)
In the fog of early parenthood, I came across articles written by mothers embracing stretch marks and bathing suits.
Every wrinkle, pudge, or scar had become an anthem of pride, a testament to survival, an embodiment of cherished memories made possible by bringing humans into this world.
I got it… kind of.
I wanted to believe them and to embrace my morphed body.
But sheer exhaustion couldn’t let me see past immediate needs. You know, like how I was going to clothe, bathe and feed three children under three. #twins #surprise
Seven years and one pandemic later, I get it. Oh, do I get it.
I’m not brazen with bathing suits (I’ll occasionally squeeze into for an underwater tea party), and I can (for now) cover the spider veins.
But what I choose not to cover, not to mask is my gray hair.
And in the last year, it’s proliferated.
It’s like a few friends each invited five friends, who then invited ten more friends, and they’ve all set up camp above my forehead.
I might as well walk around with a neon flashing sign that says, “Look!”
But that’s not necessary. My seven-year-old daughters remind me every few days that the grays are multiplying.
But today, instead of trying to change the subject, I gleefully told them, “Yes, that’s where I hold all my wisdom.”
“It’s where all of my experiences, all of my knowledge is kept,” I said.
Wheels started turning.
“Does that mean everyone with has gray hair is wise?” one daughter asked.
“Is that why Papa has gray in his beard?” the other chimed in.
“Yes,” I replied. “And it’s why lots of other people have gray hair. They’re very special because you can only get gray hair after you’ve lived through a lot.”
It took a loooong time to get here. I’ve dyed my hair three times. I’m still shaky in this #truth. My daughters’ comments used to stew in my mind, churning over and over. Hours later, I’d scroll through social media and it was like a subconscious antenna sought images of ‘beautiful’ women with perfectly colored hair.
I still see them.
My daughters keep commenting on the grays, but now in the same breath they say, “you have so much wisdom!”
I can’t break down Western standards of beauty all by my lonesome. But I can embody a positive message of aging so my daughters and nieces admire gray hair, call it out as beautiful, and embrace the gray when it’s their turn.
These gray hairs are my anthem of pride for living a life with courage, conviction and humility.
Those gray hairs are a testament to survival when life threw curveballs and I kept going, even when I had no idea what I was doing.
And these over here embody cherished memories made possible by bringing three humans into this world.
Wait - why is it so hard to publish this article?
If I do, will friends and family stop the double-takes and comments about how gray I’ve turned?
If I do, will feminists berate me if I dye my hair in the future?
If I don’t, what does that say about owning my truth?
If I don’t, what message does that send to my children?
Dammit - I’m going for it.