Carefree Mom With Swinging Ponytail
By Gail Silver
When I was little, I imagined that I’d be the kind of mom who hopped in and out of her open air Jeep, her long ponytail youthfully bouncing and swaying behind her. Not so much. And, please, don’t be misled by my author photo. I look nothing like that. The photographer is a dear friend and was very kind to me. More often than not, especially in the winter months, the short ends of my messy brown hair stick out from under a furry wool hat that mis-matches with my coat in such a way that I might sometimes be mistaken for a bag lady. Typically, with three kids I have enough bags on my body to pull it off. And there is nothing carefree about the way I get in and out of my car. Usually, I move slowly, to make sure I don’t pull or re-strain a muscle in my neck or back, but more often because our car door doesn’t open all the way without knocking into our outdoor shrubs and table and garbage cans.
A few years ago, when I had to accept that I would never be “Carefree Mom With Swinging Ponytail” (my desired name should I be reborn as a Native American), I set my sights on something more realistic. When I get older and go grey, I will let all of the grey come in and stay in. I will be one of those women with thick, long waves of silver. No color for this organic Mama. Who needs it? Not me.
I am older now. And there are no long thick waves of silver grey. There are however, scraggily, wiry grey strands randomly sprouting up in my dark brown long-short cut. There is nothing organic or reasoned about the way they are coming in. They just do as they feel, mostly at night, while I am asleep. And I am not at all okay with it. I have a visceral reaction each and every day when I try to arrange my hair. And then I get upset with myself for my reaction. Essentially, I am having a reaction to my reaction and then judging myself for having those reactions. Maybe no one else sees them (except my mother of course, who incidentally, is the one who also lets me know when my coats are pilled and when my scarves are tattered). My husband insists he can’t see but one of them, but he’s like that.
It doesn’t matter though, what anybody else sees. It’s about how I feel. And I don’tfeel good about it. I wanted to embrace aging with acceptance and grace. I really did. But I can’t seem to get there. I think today, I will try instead to get to my favorite organic salon on Fourth Street and see if someone can paint a strip of honey-blond over last night’s recent arrivals.