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Monday, April 11, 2005

Say sorry

I am at that point in postpartum-hood where I'm starting to notice and be bothered by the fact that I seem to have aged seven and a half years with the arrival of each of my children. That's right: I am now 15 years older than I was before my first pregnancy, four and a half years ago. I have bags under my eyes, bags around my waist, old-people skin, old-people hair. What is it with the hair? It has changed texture utterly. It is coarser, curlier, greyer. After my first child was born I warded off my feelings of extreme age by doing my hair like the cool kids on MTV. Now I might as well accept that the messy bun of Katharine Hepburn in her Parkinson's years is the coolest I could possibly shoot for.

This morning, while getting LG's breakfast together, we had the following conversation:

LG: "Mama, why are you angry at your hair?"

PS: (startled) "Uh, well, sometimes when I don't like the way it looks, I get angry at my hair."

LG: "Then you yell at it?"

PS: (embarrassed) "Uh, yeah. Sometimes."

LG: "I think you should say sorry to your hair, Mama."

PS: (sincerely) "Sorry, hair!"

I hope things are now squared away between me and my hair, and I can go aim my anger at more appropriate targets.

But while we're on topic, hair was the vehicle for the greatest sisterly put-down of all time. In Part Three of An American Childhood, buried in the chronicle of her adolescent poetry-driven, church-rejecting, boy-fueled rage, Annie Dillard throws away the following:

Then, immediately, we all heard a hideous shriek ending in a wail; it came from my sisters' bathroom. Had Molly cut off her head? It set us all back a moment -- me on the bed, Father standing by my desk, Mother outside the closed door -- until we all realized that it was Amy, mad at her hair. Like me, she was undergoing a trying period, years long; she, on her part, was mad at her hair.

Ooooo, the scorn! The devastating unanswerable accusation of irredeemable shallowness!

Annie Dillard is just about my favorite writer in the world, but I am so glad that I'm not her sister.


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