Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hair Today...

In 5th grade Jack got a pretty bad haircut. He had grown his hair way out over the summer as was his custom, but his school had a dress code which required boys' hair to be above the ears. Jack always liked to go to "School Supply Drop off Day" with long, crazy hair as he caught up with his friends, and then he'd show up with a fresh haircut when school officially started the next morning.

Jack was sad at the prospect of letting the wild, long hair go, but sadder still that Betty and Susanna, the female barbers, were occupied. He'd been going to them since his days of sitting on a booster seat and reading Berenstain Bears in the barber chair. They were familiar with his hair and took good care of the "floop" in the front.

We were in a rush that day, so he got his hair cut by an older gentleman named William. Because William could see Jack was not keen on getting his hair cut at all, he made the unfortunate  move of keeping it somewhere between long and short on top, which in this family translates into "big." It looked like something to which the words "wedge," "stacked," and possibly "mushroom" would apply.

If you were Rickie Schroeder in Silver Spoons or even Zach or Cody in the early years of The Suite Life, it might have been okay. But if you were Jack Donaldson, not so much.

But I've not been known for staying on top of our family's grooming. My own gray roots inspired the name of this blog.  And I never once let Margaret get bangs, not even as a toddler, because I knew I was never going to be able to keep up with that shit. It was like, get your back to school haircut, and we'll revisit "hair" sometime next spring. So instead of cutting our losses and returning to cut Jack's hair shorter, we sent him off to experience a large portion of the school year with a mushroom head. His friends at school were amused.

I tell you this because over the course of  6th grade Jack (with some helpful pointers from Margaret and me) came to realize he looked better with short hair.  The growing out stage was just too unsightly. By the time the summer before 7th grade rolled around, he was keeping it pretty short, asking for several cuts on his own accord. He didn't need much of a back to school cut, but as you know, Jack loved  tradition, so off to the barber shop we went right after supply drop off.

"I hope it's not William," he said as we parked the car, remembering the worst haircut of his life. "William doesn't even work here anymore," I replied. "There's some new old guy." Jack sighed, knowing that neither of us had the guts to make waves if the old guy's chair was open. Our family has a whole underdog thing going on as well as a genetic inability to speak up.

We walked in and took our seats next to the wooden checkerboard.

Uh-oh.

Betty and Susanna were both busy cutting hair, and the new guy was free as a bird.

"Ready for a cut?" he called out, picking up the plastic cape to put around Jack's shoulders.

Pause.

"We're going to wait for Susanna today." I said.

And Jack looked at me and smiled a little smile. Not big enough to make the old man feel bad, but big enough for me to notice.

I haven't always done the right thing as a parent. Not by a long shot. And I had no idea I'd have only 48 hours left with my boy. But in that one little moment, I was Super Mom.

*******

5th Grade Crazy "Before":
5th Grade Sad Mushroom "After":
Getting More Mushroomy as time goes on:


6th Grade  Before and Short After:
 
 
7th grade Before:
 


7th Grade After:


76 comments:

Anonymous said...

This column cut straight to my heart. Wow. You were, and are, supermom. And you and Margaret are right, he does look fanTAStic with shorter hair. Godspeed.

mollysmith222 said...

Anna, he is a beautiful child and pulled off all hair cuts wonderfully, I think he looks a lot like you in the first couple shots. From your stories, you were super mom every day. Reading that you had no idea you would only have 48 hours left with your boy is gut wrenching and makes all moms, including myself, ache for you in a way that only a mother could understand the love you had for your son. And reminds us to cherish all things, including errands with the kids. Thank you for your stories. I continue to keep you in my prayers. XO

OHmommy said...

LOVED this.

A Speckled Trout said...

You deserved to have walked out of there with the cape around your shoulders. That day and every one since.

Fiona, LilyfieldLife said...

Oh Anna - he was a beautiful boy. so glad that that last time you were able to speak up - better than regretting it (especially as it was his last haircut)
love to you
Fiona xx

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful boy.
I wish I could hug you Anna, reach through the screen and let you know I think of you everyday. I'm miles away in NY, but I took my oldest son to Church with me this morning, and I rubbed his crew cut hair and held his 7 year old hand and thanked God he was with me.

I hope you know your writing makes me appreciate these times so much more.

Jackie in NY.

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

I am bad about hair maintenance, too. So glad that I got over my girls having bangs...it's so much easier now.

We don't often know when we do things that make our kids happy, especially as they get older and "cooler." What a special memory you have of making your boy smile! XO

Laura said...

What 'A Speckled Trout' said.

He is so beautiful. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and your dear family ~ offering up a little prayer each time.
xoxo

The Bipolar Diva said...

Jack was a handsome kid all the way around. I took my grandson to get his hair cut today and the girl that usually cuts it wasn't there. He had the "OH NO!" eyes. But he came out ok. When you wrote that at that time you only had 48 hours with your boy, you really got to me. I tend to measure time with Isaiah and my my in the same manner. Keep writing, every time you do, you help heal a part of my heart.

Nicole said...

I'm constantly amazed at the Holy Spirit's presence in the little every day moments, especially when reading your blog I have followed you since the accident, and have cried for you, prayed for you, and squeezed my toddler a little tighter more times than I can count. It fills my heart with joy that God gave you the strength to step out of your comfort zone and "make waves" that day. I'm so glad that the last haircut was one that you all loved, and that is your memory. And, for the record, I think he was a cutie pie with the "mushroom" hair.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Those pics of Jack as he enters 7th grade are etched in my mind. You are a rock star mom so very many things, you all are lucky to have each other.

Beth said...

I love your writing. I love the "sad mushroom" picture - it reminds me so much of my 8-year-old son and his increasing attention to his hair and how he usually looks after I try to cut it (both the mushroom and the sad face!). I've started taking him to the hair salon because I can't take the pressure and attitude I get for doing it wrong!
I'm glad Jack was looking his best during his last days with you. It shouldn't matter, but for us moms, somehow it does.

Sharon @ Desert Willow Lane said...

Hi Anna,
I'm exactly the same way about my kids' hair. I used to cut my son's hair, but had to stop because he whined so much. I started taking him to the barber, but recently delegated it to his dad (we're divorced). He was supposed to take him Saturday, but forgot. So, my son now has, what I will now always refer to as, "mushroom head". I can't keep up with that shit either. I love you Anna. Never met you or your family, but I love you all and I pray for you. Pray for your peace and happiness.

Peach Prenni said...

I'm eating my cereal in tears. You turned my grumpy Monday morning around. Thank you. I needed this. I am ready to go be super mom now. I love you.
Annie
xo

Jesika Jewell said...

He is so very handsome!!! Long or short!!!

Stimey said...

The sad mushroom photo made me laugh. Your poor kiddo. ;)

I think you probably had a lot of super mom moments that you didn't even know about, but that Jack did.

The Empress said...

I love these memories, Anna.

Memories, of when we did right by them, float me these days.

We adores them while we had them.

I remember.

Thank you.

Paula said...

May your words inspire every parent to find their Super Mom moment today. I'm so thankful that you shared this one with us. My middle guy shares Jack's hair woes and looks so much like him in the sad haircut photo. Boys - just as sensitive as girls when it comes to their hair!

Princess Kate said...

People always comment to me that I love rubbing my children's hair/head. I'm not sure why I do this but it just makes me feel connected to them completely.

Jack is beautiful in any "do". Love your writing and think of you every day.

Princess Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie said...

I felt my heart get stretched in a thousand little ways, reading this post. The way you write about Jack...he was an awesome kid and you are an awesome Mom. You remind me to cherish my sons every moment, and for that I thank you.

I'm glad you spoke up for your son and had "that moment" with him.

Arnebya said...

It is nice to be reminded, to remind ourselves, that there are times we do something specifically for our children and it makes them happy. I love these photos and you and Margaret are right: the short cut was better, especially as Jack got older, but I have to admit I rather like the sad mushroom floop.

Anonymous said...

This post brought out a wide range of emotions in me. At one point I laughed out loud, and at the end I was practically sobbing. You are an incredible writer and an incredible mother. You really are.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm supposed to come up with something sweet like the other commenters, but I'm just laughing at the sad mushroom face. You are in my prayers.

Theresa O said...

Love that story Anna....and Mushroom look, or shorter look....WOW!! Just an amazingly handsome boy all around!!!!!!!!!!! His good looks, and his sweet smile, just make you melt.

Anonymous said...

Such amazing writing. This powerful story is reaching me on so many levels, Anna. And my heart is sending you a squeezy hug. You did good.

love,
jbhat

Anonymous said...

Wow. I love that story as my oldest, Jack, also has hair issues. He had a huge dislike (understatement) of hair cuts in toddlerhood...didn't matter if was Cartoon Cuts, Hair Cuttery or a fancy salon. He actually rolled around on the floor screaming and I'd hold him my lap in a football hold incurring the horrifying stares of other customers just to get it done. When my usually very calm kid, actually kicked the hairdresser in her vagina my husband and I took matters into our own hands. Hence--the nickname 'Mushroom Boy' bestowed on him by our Dim Sung waitress. "His hair look like a Mushroom. Who do that to him? Mushroom Boy, would you like some more water?' OF COURSE, we were with Grandpa who had tears rolling down his face lauging uncontrollably. I, apparently, have no talent for hair-dressing. As, if you couldn't tell by my own 'do. Thankfully, Jack was only 2.5 and has no memory of this brunch.

Around Kindergarten--I actually convinced him to start going to the barber shop down the street. The one every neighborhood adult male and child goes to. He agreed--on one condition- I let him wear swim goggles and we tape his mouth shut. I shit you not! My husband, or course, said no way! I smiled and said 'fine'. After all---I was about to shell out a large sum for my professional Xmas photos (since I also have no talent with the camera). I got an iphone photo text minutes later of him smiling through the clear packing tape, favorite blue swim goggles on and all. That is a keeper. Thankfully--next time he was fine to do it like a normal person and now in first grade actually relishes going for a trim down the street:).

Ironically, dental visits never bothered him.
I loved the story and the photos!! NoVa mom Jen

Diane said...

Love that he liked to keep it long all summer and then go in with a fresh cut on the first day. My oldest has thick hair that he wears longer all the time and my youngest has fine hair that he likes to keep trimmed shorter.

Your posts about Jack never fail to take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes. You are such a wonderful writer. And I'm betting you were/are Super Mom much more often than you know.

Lisa said...

The pout in the "sad mushroom" picture made me smile...reminds me of my 2nd born after a haircut gone awry.

The story about his last haircut gives so much perspective. Hugs, momma.

Peg said...

Anna, you have such a talent in your writing as you find balance between the humor, touching moments and raw grief. But that's like right? The sad, happy, silly, and heartbreaking all rolled into one.

Jack had seriously impressive hair...he gave the Beibs a run for his money :)

Peg said...

bad typing...that was supposed to say "that's life..." sorry :)

Steph said...

What a beautiful child! I can't even decide which looks better long or short because he looks melt-your-heart adorable either way. Kudos to you for sticking up for what he wanted!

an apropos beginning said...

Oh my goodness, that precious face in the second photo. You just want to scoop him up! Been thinking of you a lot since I found your blog this last week.

Michele Wood said...

I love that look in the after mushroom picture. A picture that definitely says a thousand words!! Reading those words, only 48 hours left, made my breath stop. hugs, Michele

Lady Jennie said...

First of all, those pictures are a knife in my heart. They are the first ones I ever saw on your blog.

Second of all, Jack can NOT look bad, no matter what he does. Mushroom hair or gorgeous floop, the kid always has style.

(I like the pic that hangs on my fridge).

Bluebird49 said...

I wasn't on top of my children's haircuts, either! In fact, often I had to cut it myself because of lack of funds. We often did not have even bangs in this house, and I should have had the "no bangs" rule, like you did! :)

Jack's short hair just opened up his handsome face, didn't it!

I know you are still aching and heartbroken--I so admire the fact that you can still do this--this wonderful tribute to Jack and your family!
Thanks,
Sherry's mom

Anonymous said...

@ NoVA mom Jen, what a great story!!

Cindy said...

So handsome - he looks good in every style. You know I have a fondness for the mushroom cut. Love you.

Kelly Pack said...

Love this story. My heart hurts for you looking at those precious photos. xoxo

Anonymous said...

PS In case you don't have a Valentine's Day post, I hope the day will have some good moments for you, and I want to thank you and your family for your courage, which you share so honestly with all of us. So proud of you.

Jamie said...

Jack was ridiculously cute even with mushroom hair. If you're anything like me, those last 48 replay on a loop in your head. I can't even manage my hair, it's a good thing Sully was bald

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful post, thank you. I won't forget it. And I agree, he's just as gorgeous with the mushroom!

Jenna Ginder said...

Love this post, Anna. You remind me to appreciate the small things... cherish every moment. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What a cutie pie...

Anonymous said...

chills, smile, tears....I love your vivid memory and I hope this one comforts you. A poignant reminder that we are given little moments all the time to be super parents...we just have to grab them. hugs

Amy said...

Sometimes I read your blog, smile and laugh at the great stories. Other times, like today, I just bawl. I ache for you, for your loss, for the Jack I have sleeping upstairs and the one you have in heaven. You inspire me to hug my kids tighter, live in the moment more, and hold onto my Catholic faith when I'm feeling down. Prayers to you, Super Mom.

Kim said...

My heart hurts for you. It hurt when I was sitting at Legoland with a lump in my throat...I am just so sorry that you are without your boy. So heartbreakingly sorry.

Stumbling Towards Perfect said...

((hug))
We had our struggles with hair. (Please... just COMB THROUGH IT!) That morning, I, too, was super mom. "Can you do my hair, Mom?" *checks watch, running late* "Absolutely."

I don't always comment on your blog. (They hit way too close to home. I'm usually a sobbing mess and can't see the keyboard.) But know that I always read. Always.

OSMA said...

This mama heart of mine is holding yours as high as it can in prayer, love, and peace.

xoxo

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
I want to let you know that your amazing boy, Jack, and your words about him are so very important. I have read your blog for about 6 months. I am always profoundly moved by your words; you are a very gifted writer. Recently, a family in our small town (we are in Central California) lost their 17 year old son in a car accident. I didn't personally know this boy or his family, but my child goes to the same high school. When I heard about his death, I thought about you and your terrible loss. Just as I feel about you, I wished SO MUCH that I could do something for this family to lessen their horrible pain. Then, I read in the paper that their son had been an organ donor. He had signed up with the DMV when he was 16 years old. So, inspired by the fact that SIX people had received life saving organs from this boy, I went to the DMV website and signed up too. It's a very easy 5 minute process. I sent the boy's family a card to let them know I had done this - hoping that it might just make them feel less miserable for just a few moments.
Anna, I want you to know that I often tell people about you and your boy, Jack. Your words make all of us love and appreciate our children more and make us love and appreciate life more. Your Jack has created a never ending ripple of love in the world. Thank you for sharing your boy with us and for throwing that "stone." Love,
a grateful reader. P.S. BE SURE to write that book of yours!

Salvimom said...

Dearest Anna,

God Bless You! You again have brought me to tears and true feeling. When you say that you did not even realize you only had 48 hours left with your boy that is so darn poignant. Don't ever, ever doubt your 'supermom-ness'!!! I think I speak for all of your readers when we say that you are one of the super-est! love, hugs, and prayers as always.

Ury

Esther said...

We've never met, but I love you! Your spirit and truthfulness always get right to the soul.

Hetrick family said...

Your writing cuts to the heart of every mom. I am so so sad that he is gone, and yet...you are so lucky he is yours. And the bond with Margaret--totally can see it in the pictures. Thank you for sharing your story and encouraging all of us Moms. You make our days different. I promise.

Lori said...

(((((Anna)))) I just want to hug you right now. Thank you for sharing Jack's life with us. I can only imagine what it is like for you and your family but I do know that my heart aches for you and those that hurt in this way. Thank you for reminding me that we never know how much time we have left with any of our loved ones. To embrace our love ones every single day and every moment we get with them. Bless you and your sweet family Anna. XXOO

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I don't know what to say. I'm thinking I need to be a super mom everyday but we all know that's kind of impossible. God gave you a gift that day and I am sure Jack was never more proud of you than he was that day.
((HUGS))

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Eliza said...

Anna, I just found your blog today and you are bookmarked on my Favorites bar here at work. I will be checking every day to read your posts. You're a fantastic writer and the way you've handled the events of the last couple years has me at a loss for words! I do not have children.. alas, I am scared of having them, because while I can see how they are a source of such joy, bringing another human into the world is also a very scary thing, to me, and the good part has not yet outweighed my fear. But, you are an inspiration to all women, mothers or not, and should I ever decide to have kids someday I can only hope to be the mother you seem to be. I look forward to following your blog very much!

Marinka said...

Oh, but you are SuperMom. xo

Anonymous said...

I love this. What a special kid...

You help me to be better parent every time I read one of your posts.

I think of you and your family so often.

Michelle

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Rach said...

I LOVE that you are focusing on that good moment! So often I sit and stew (for lack of a better word) as I remember all the *terrible* moments of my parenting of Hannah, all those awful things I did to her and how utterly dreadful I was as a parent. Those bad ones stick with me and are somehow, in someway easier to focus on.

I KNOW there were wonderful moments where I was truly amazing, but darned if I can remember them when I most need to. :sigh:

Parenting--it's not for the faint of heart.

DeeBee said...

Anna, I have been reading your blog for a year or so now, and am blown away with every post. This blog is quickly becoming a beautiful, raw, crucial resource for anyone in the throws of grief. I hope you know how important this work of your is, and how much it is a legacy to your son and his life. You are doing a very big thing.

bonzo said...

This is so beautiful. Well done, mama.

Anonymous said...

He is so stink in' cute! My heart aches for all of you whenever I see his photo. Such love and light in his face. As a mom, the 48 hour comment is overwhelming. Sending hugs and trying to make every moment count

Anonymous said...

I hope you had some good moments today! (Hugs)

@Rachel, you sound like a very caring mother from your comments, and I can only imagine that simply having you in her life meant the world to your daughter. Not every amazing moment has to be "about" something, right? I really doubt that you did anything truly awful or dreadful, even though I can understand how you might feel that way. I think you mentioned doing a special tree with sparkling ornaments, so that's how I imagine your bond was with her; bright and sparkling and beautiful. Maybe you are taking your loving attitude toward her for granted, but I'm sure she did not.

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Kristin said...

What a great memory! And a lovely story. It's a great reminder to teach our kids to speak up too, and to show them that we have their backs.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing this. how sweet is it that jack didn't want to hurt the barber's feelings - and only shared that smile with you. super mom and super boy.

Leslie said...

Damn this is a beautiful post. Thank you for reminding me to be a supermom as often as I can. Coming off of a night of getting very short tempered with one of mine, I really needed to be reminded to REALLY LISTEN and care for these little people in our lives.

Anna, please know we are always praying for each of you. If we can't turn back time as we want to, we BEG God to soothe you and give you reason or understanding SOMEHOW.

For many years, you've written posts that remind me to be a better mom. Not just now. You've always made me think about being more fun, more attentive and more of an advocate for them. Thank you.

Jana said...

Oh, the pic of him crying after the mushroom cut made me simultaneously laugh and tear up (on his behalf). Bless his heart. Yours too...in so many ways.

Cynthia said...

Oh, that sweet, sweet head.....
Lump in throat.... love you, and him

Cynthia said...

heart wrenching title.... xo

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