The slow dawning of a realization…my pride and the pain it creates.

The slow dawning of a realization…
The week after week after week of pain….
The look of fear and hurt in the eyes of my children…
The screams…hours upon hours of screaming…

This is what weekly hair cleaning and braiding has come to in our home. The questions in this mother’s head are endless…what on earth? Is this just how it is? Is this normal for African hair? No, no it is not…I’m learning that. I’m learning that I’ve been living in this personal hell of hair care with two children that have EXTREMELY sensitive heads AND they feed off of each others emotions. How am I supposed to just ‘know’ that not every kid is like this…we talk about how to care for hair, to keep it healthy and beautiful….but no one seems to be saying what I need to hear….sometimes heads are soft….sometimes kids are really sensitive….really, really sensitive.

Last week I got up from the tub and walked away. Two beautiful girls screaming, once again, I was afraid of what I might do if I didn’t remove myself. That was it. I was done. We had three options as I saw it. We could chemically relax their hair, we could cut it short or we could keep at it…and I would likely start beating them. (The last was NOT an option)

So we cut or ‘relax’…
The pain of that decision and my inaction for the past year say far more about me as a person then I realized. I was stuck. Truly stuck. I didn’t know what way to go. I called mike, in tears, and asked him to pick up some relaxer on his way home. I hated myself! Here is why…

Relaxers are culturally excepted. For generations girls have been getting their hair straightened…this makes it more ‘manageable.’ It also burns! The chemicals used are harsh…no matter what the box with the smiling girl says…it hurts. But culture says it’s good.

And then there are the issues of self image. Do we choose to promote that straight = beautiful? Ha, even now, as a curly haired white woman, I fight against that….every time I get my hair cut and styled by a professional…it doesn’t look good or right until it’s been straightened….my girls don’t need those messages taught to them by me.

Cutting their hair would be the ‘wrong’ choice per the culture’s view. I would be seen as one more white adoptive mom who has no idea how to take care of her black children’s hair. Judged at a glance. And I rail against this! Seethe on the inside. And yet, what harm is done to my child when she no longer look at her mama with fear when she says it’s time for a bath? Why is it ‘wrong’ to choose what is most healthy and loving?

That’s a small glimpse of the run around, the never ending war fraught in my own head. And then I realized in a moment of clarity (I believe only given by the grace of God, while dear friends prayed) this battle was about me….about my pride….oh that evil wicked thing! Wrapped so tight….clings so fast…pride that I ‘know what I’m doing’, and can ‘take care of my children’ I can do these things, and in the end I will look good.

What a shame, and it began to dawn on me that we have lived years of pain because of my pride.

Mike came home with the relaxer in hand and I was already cutting hair. With each snip and curl that fell to the ground my heart grew lighter. The girls….love their new hair! There is joy each morning when I pull out the spray bottle to make their hair look ‘ohh-la-la’ our family word for beautiful. They are learning that short hair means fewer snags and shorter care time and they get to keep their curls out more…they love their curls! As they should!

And me…I’m learning about my pride…more and more every day. I’m seeing it more clearly…how it webs it’s way into all of life…Lord walk with us and offer strength and wisdom as we grow. Eyes to see more clearly and wisdom to call sin and shame what it is. 20140717-081745-29865721.jpg

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