It’s been a long time since I have written. Lots of things have changed. I even have gray hair (I blame my two kids and my husband for every single one of them)! Remember how a few years ago (holy cow it was about 5 years ago) I was thinking about not dying my hair anymore? Well, I did it. I stopped dying my hair!
First I let it grow out until I couldn’t stand the skunk stripe. Then I had blond highlights put in. When I couldn’t stand having so much fun as a blond I decided to chop it all off with a really short pixie cut. Now it is growing out. It’s been quite a process.
The funny thing is people have opinions about your hair when you go gray. I mean total strangers will be compelled to tell you that they love it or hate it. It’s a subject that people are oddly quite passionate about. I had an interesting experience regarding my hair not too long ago.
I went to the optometrist to get my eyes checked. She’d been badgering me for about a year via email because apparently a person is supposed to have his or her eyes checked on a yearly basis. Since I operate under the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy of medicine I had neglected to schedule my yearly exam. I mean, I could still see. I didn’t know what all of the fuss was about.
I only wear reading glasses and I try to wear them like a sexy librarian. A sexy librarian with gray hair now. I’m not sure that is the look I was going for just a few years ago, but things change and I am making the best of it. My glasses are purple with sparkles on the side and somehow, beyond all logical comprehension, they are manufactured by Harley Davidson. That’s right, I wear Harley Davidson (insert trademark symbol here) Eyewear because despite my disheveled hair, mom jeans, and finger-stained T-shirts I really am still trying to be one of the coolest people you know. I don’t ride a Harley (I’m not thaaaat cool), but I totally rock one on my face. Second best thing and all that jazz, right?
Anyway, this post isn’t really about my eyesight. It’s about my gray hair and my eye doctor. My doctor fascinates me. Her waiting room is decorated like a hunting lodge complete with a stuffed bear head mounted to the wall. I assume she shot and killed it herself. While you sit and wait for your appointment, that bear sits in judgement of your reading material. Which, unless you brought your own, would include titles such as “Garden and Gun” a lovely publication featuring gardening tips in between gun ads, or “Guns and Ammo,” a known staple for people who like to shoot things. When the kids come with me they sit silently, staring at the bear while clinging to my body. The oldest whispers things like, “What’s with all of those guns anyway?”
My optometrist is very chatty. She never stops talking and she’s really smart so I always learn new things. At my last visit she was citing journal articles about education and child development in between a serious discussion on the benefits of hula hooping for a person’s waistline. Then it happened. While asking me to look through machinery she suddenly switched gears and exclaimed, “I could never let my hair go gray. I have to maintain a professional appearance and that includes looking young, but your hair is quite flattering on you. I could never pull off that whole ‘earth mother’ look like you can.”
A bit caught off guard, I wasn’t really sure what to say. I was clutching my Harley Davidson, purple, sparkly eye-wear while wearing khaki colored capri pants and a basic polo shirt, wondering which part of me was projecting, “I am an earth mother!” Before I could ask she was showing me her invisible braces because, apparently, as you age your teeth crowd together and that makes you look old. She doesn’t want to look old. I found my tongue wandering over my teeth trying to gauge whether or not my teeth were feeling more crowded than usual. Before I knew it she was telling me about the details of her divorce and my mind began to wander.
My identity became skewed for a few moments as I grappled with the idea that my freshly cropped, pixie-d, gray hair was anything but cool and cutting edge. I could spike it on top if I wanted to. I was kind of digging how androgynous my hair made me look. This whole earth mother thing wasn’t sitting well with me. If anything, I looked like an almost preppy (polo-shirted) middle management worker who hadn’t slept in 7 years. A little plump around the middle perhaps, but definitely not earth motherly. Definitely NOT OLD. I wish I was a little more earth motherly.
When I hear “Earth Mother” I picture flowing hair and skirts with lots of silver bracelets and maybe some vegan sandals. An earth mother doles out wisdom while snacking on granola and wearing naturally dyed fabrics. She is beautiful and warm and happy. Mrs. Earth Mother is content with herself and at peace with aging. She is graceful, exuding peace and love. Her skin is radiant because she only eats healthy foods and does not have children who wake her up 2-3 times a night. She does yoga and never puts her food in plastic. My mind was flowing with idealistic images. None of which pertained to me.
My gun slinging, Fox news watching, anti-Medicaid, almost divorced, fountain of youth chasing, doctor in braces, even though her teeth looked perfect, was probably looking at me as her complete opposite. She got a lot wrong about me and I probably got a lot wrong about her too. I’m not full of wisdom and while I like granola I’m not totally content with aging. I rarely wear flowing skirts and I don’t own a single bracelet. As a mom with young kids I rarely have a moment’s peace so radiant wouldn’t likely describe me well. My clothes selection and, let’s face it, lifestyle choices reflect survival and a little bit of “I don’t have the energy to care.” Who knew so many assumptions could be made about gray hair? Who knew I could make so many assumptions based on one bear head and a stack of gun magazines? But really, my doctor is also funny, smart, and helpful about supplying random, yet useful, information I didn’t even realize I needed.
My gray hair does not make me an earth mother, but it does make me happy. I don’t have to dye it. I feel free. Maybe that’s what she was picking up on. Maybe despite my non earth mother exterior she was picking up on my inner earth mother vibe. Or maybe she just thinks I’m weird because I let my hair go gray and earth mother was the most polite label she could come up with. Either way I’ll take it. I don’t want to find another doctor. I really want to find out how her divorce turns out and if straight teeth make her look younger. I really want to understand why her waiting room is filled with guns and hunting trophies and if she has changed her mind about Medicaid patients. Is she still watching Fox News and changing topics at lightening speed?
I don’t think my gray hair makes me look old, but even if it does, who cares? As long as I like it, right? I might get a hula hoop though because my mid section could use a little work.