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




Hair, hair, it’s everywhere…or can I just take a moment to be real about our hair situation?

Let me first say that there are about a million ways I could write this post. I hesitate every time I sit down to write on this topic….every time. I will likely offend you at some point. The possibilities for offense are endless and I AM aware of that. I’ve just come to the point where I am not going to tip toe around words or thoughts because someone will be offended…sometimes the thoughts are just too important not to share. So please, take a moment…breathe….and remember grace as you read. Please set aside you preconceived ideas about white women with black children and mixed race families….step down from the soap box, and think twice before offering your unsolicited advice…believe me….I have probably heard it, read it or tossed it out the window already. This is our story….our family…a glimpse into who we are and how we live. My hope…dear and true….is that just one other family will be encouraged and know that they aren’t the only ones.

Deep breath…… we go!

Today a friend challenged me to consider writing about the hair struggles in our home. A few ladies were sitting around a table working on small crafting project at a local coffee shop and watching the children play. We chatted about many of the topics that moms share….so blessed by these women and their wisdom in the everyday.

I realized at one point that each mother at the table has had one connection or another with adoption. One mom is in the process of holding her breath for a court date in Africa! There is a 7 month old little girl who has a mama already loving her…separated by land and sea. She asked me about hair….did I know someone she could spend some time watching work with hair….

She has no idea! How could she?
I invited her to come…be a part…see what we do and the reality of hair in our home.

As a white woman who grew up in Minnesota I really haven’t had a whole lot of first hand education about other types of hair. (I think at times my own hair was a mystery to me) I don’t have as many friends of other races as I would like. I have traveled, and I put a high value on diversity but we just live where I don’t rub shoulders in the everyday with people of different ethnicities. I reach out to people in stores and have short chats, but it seems to come to little fruit.

I have a number of friends who have adopted. Sometimes this is helpful….sometimes it is not. As mothers, I think, we often fall prey to the voice that tells us we aren’t good enough….don’t do things right….and are constantly failing. So it’s hard to air some of these things….pride….ever with the pride!

So I dig in and do my research. My own mom always says I’m good at researching….but let’s be honest, the internet can’t hold your hand! In the hours that I have spent researching product and technique I have yet to find a blog that encourages moms….one that says,

Hey, sometimes this really sucks! Guess what you are going to be in just as many tears as your kids. It’s just part of how this works!

Nope! Haven’t found that. It’s all about how to fix something. How to do something correctly. Methods. I would just LOVE if someone was honest, and said it like it is with depth of compassion and encouragement. You can do all the ‘right’ things and still have it go wrong!

A&A are beautiful! They are amazing and bright with smiles that light up a room and laughter that is contagious! They have also been given soft scalps and curly hair that needs a great amount of attention.

As long as we are on the topic lets talk about reality. We live in a world that tells us lies at every turn! As a mother of two 4 year old girls I am already faced with it daily and as they grow the influence of the world will become greater. Be thin, be good at sports, get good grades, look like this unattainable airbrushed model….have hair like this….skin like that. NO! Just…NO! So every time I think about how we interact regarding their hair I think about more then just hair. I think about how it affects their self image. Will they grow up with a deep resentment for the way we fumbled things? Will they LOVE their hair? Will they look in the mirror as grown women with a firm knowledge of how to take care of themselves and be proud? What gifts can I give them now….what tools to help them as they grow?

This is the reality of hair in our home. A journey many adoptive families don’t talk openly about….likely because shame comes from all sides. Here is what I know….what I trust. They were made by the hand of God. Beautiful! His love and passion for them is much greater then my own. As a parent I can not protect my children from every ill. Many battles they will need to fight on their own….I will love them the best I know and give them the tools that I can, but they will choose to pick them up or not. So I hold these girls up to the Lord with my hands open. Because, it all belongs to Him…all of it….even hair!

One of the moms joyfully shared this video with me and the girls! They loved it!
I Love my Hair!