Mothering my biracial baby installment 2: My hair obsession

I’m here to admit it: I’m completely obsessed with my daughter’s hair.

Background: I’m a black woman who wears her hair “natural” in shoulder length locks. My hair is Black in color and unmistakably Black in style. I wore my hair in a more ordinary, permed style until I was in college. Then there was A Thing, and a head shaving, and a whole rebellion that eventually involved a support group for Black women with natural hair when I was in graduate school, and ended with me growing my locks so long I could barely sleep for rolling on them.

I hated my hair before; I love it now. It is my crown. It fits my personality and life in a way chemically straightened hair never did.

While pregnant with the baby I didn’t know was going to be a girl, my husband and I discussed what we thought the baby would look like. It was a constant train of thought. My mother joked that I wouldn’t have any idea what to do with the baby’s hair if it were a girl. I responded that if it was thick enough, I’d lock it up like mine as soon as I could and go from there. It was even a topic of conversation among my friends, Black and White – would there be afropuffs? Braids and beads? So I’ve been worrying about this baby’s hair from the beginning.

Why?

Because it is something that will take me into entirely new hair territory. It took me 22 years to learn to love and care for my hair as it was, as it grew out of my head. What the hell was I going to do with her hair if it wasn’t like mine? How will I teach her to manage it without vanity, or love it without judgment? I’ve got my hair baggage, but what sort of hair baggage will she have? How do I keep that baggage load as low as possible if I don’t actually understand it?

Baby girl was born almost as bald as I was but quickly her hair grew in straight and brown, just like her father’s. Six months in and it was the tawny color of a lion, highlighted with a gold blond stray here and there. I brushed it every day, despite the fact that there wasn’t much of it.

Now, we’re at her one year birthday and it has started to curl, wispy baby curls across the back of her head and along the crown. I have no idea what’s going on. Are we headed for kinky curls, springy corkscrews, gentle bouncing locks? I’m sure it is all completely normal. I’m told by mothers of other children that their hair texture changes as their hormones change, so every few years something — color, texture, length — will be different.

There’s lots of advice out there for this situation, and the “how-to” of it doesn’t really concern me so much as the “what-next” …but that’s parenthood right? Always guessing what their next change will be, praying you’ll be open  minded when faced with it, and hoping you can handle it.

Right now, I’m resisting the urge to apply some oil to her scalp to keep the little stray hairs in line. Clearly my support group didn’t prepare me for this.

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Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 12:18 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Whatever you do don’t curl her hair with rollers when she’s in elementary school! My mom did this to me it took years for me to get over it. (If you saw the pictures you’d see why.) It’s not natural for a 6-year-old to use rollers. If her hair turns out to be naturally wavy in a less-than-great, flyaway “nonethnic” way, let me know. I’ve had over 50 years of experience dealing with it.

    • Thank you Alicia! I’m definitely going to need all the input I can get.

  2. I used to oil ro’s little head all the time- she had a dry scalp, though. T is going to be perfect however her hair turns out. Those soft baby curls make me melt.
    Just wait til she dyes her hair green- then you can worry about her.

  3. Love this…I have thick, wavy black hair. Husby has fine blond, but lots of it. Daughter had fine, black-brown hair for years…and then it started to change. Now it’s more like mine. Except that it is black and pastel blue/aqua. We’ll see what happens next year when she chops it off. Motherhood is an adventure…tip: hair grows back, we just want to avoid tattoos and plugs.

    • It is something I say over and over: hair grows back. any hair on the top of your head is good hair.

  4. Hair is such a journey! My own daughter started out with straight, fine hair that got curly at about age 2. We’ve done it all: braids, beads, knots, afro puffs and then a relaxer. She just went for the BIG CHOP and we’re back to natural again. The biggest thing for me is to let her lead the way, allowing her to figure out what will make her feel good about herself (and then researching styles, salons, products and paying the bill for whatever she decides!) Good luck on your hair adventure!

    • That’s a good point: let her lead the way. Thanks!


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