Moving On

We were looking at photos of celebrity haircuts.

“How about this one?” I asked Saoirse, and pointed to a photo of Julianne Hough in a tousled bob that fell to somewhere between her chin and shoulders. “Nah,” SK replied. “I like this one.” She pointed to a picture of Carey Mulligan, sporting much shorter, sleek hair tucked behind her ears. I swallowed, hard.

We were in the waiting area of my hair salon, because my daughter had gotten her hair lopped off against her wishes and told me she didn’t feel beautiful. She had told me she wanted me to look just like her. So I made an appointment, told my hairdresser what was going on, and said goodbye to my ponytail. Saoirse’s expression changed entirely when she saw herself beside me in the mirror.

Someone asked me this weekend if I was sad about losing the hair. If I missed it. Nope, I replied, and it was the truth. No, I don’t miss it. It’s just hair. The only thing I really miss is that I actually have to use this machine that’s been gathering dust in a drawer in our bathroom for the past two years. You know what I’m talking about: hot air comes out of it, it gets really heavy if you have to hold it for a long time…what’s that? Oh, yeah. It’s called a blow dryer. I have to use that again. Other than that, no biggie.

What’s a big deal is that two days before, Saoirse was looking at a framed photo of herself meeting a newborn Quinn for the first time. “Look, Mom! I was wearing a watch. I remember that watch. It was like yours.” There was the tiniest pause, and then she said, “I was wearing a watch so I could be beautiful, just like you.”

I remember what it was like to be five. I remember thinking that there was no one else in the world as perfect as my mother. Everything she did: the perfume she wore, the shoes in her closet, her way of dancing and laughing–and yes, how she styled her blond hair–was magical to me. She was who I wanted to be, my idea of what was beautiful, the person I most admired. I was five. She was my mom. And now I’ve stepped into that role for someone else. It’s odd, a little bit. It’s also so, so sweet.

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And my hair? Well, now it’s shorter. And I’m beautiful, just like my daughter.

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