Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Psychology of Mommy Guilt...and Hair

I am growing out my hair--because my girls need me to have mermaid princess hair instead of the pixie hair I wanted. Well, that's part of the reason. Also,  I believe my husband looks wistfully at pictures of me with longer hair, even though he'd never, ever, ever utter the words, "I wish you'd grow out your hair."

So those are the secondary reasons I'm growing it out. The main reason is that the shorter hair messes with my self-concept enough that I'm sick of doubting myself. Let me explain.

You see, I wanted Hermione Granger's hair--the cut after the Harry Potter movies. I wanted the hair of every girl in every picture on Pinterest under "pixie hair". And I got my pixie cut, and I was elated. I was ecstatic. I was edgy and daring--or at least my hair was those things. And I can "do" shorter hair. I believe I can pull it off. It took me less than 5 minutes to fix, and it always looked good.
Me after my pixie cut. Easy-peasy hair...
I was also freaking out that I might look like a boy, and wondering who the edgy and daring girl in the mirror was when I'm clearly still "feet planted firmly in her secure, stable, and often boring  life Jessica". I felt that I needed girly accessories and earrings all the time so that I'd look feminine.

One day this lady at preschool walked by and said, "Oh! Oh MY! You cut your hair! It's very...interesting." That didn't do wonders for the ole' self-esteem.

Months went by, and I continued to wonder what people thought when they looked at me, and if they weren't talking about why in the world I'd cut my hair, and wondering if they thought my haircut meant that I had left my husband and taken a girlfriend, or if perhaps I'd undergone chemotherapy and they just hadn't known about it, and of course now I was growing it back in. And I also wondered why half the posts on Pinterest under "pixie hair" explained how to grow it out. I mean, if it was a good cut to have, why was everybody getting rid of it? All of these excuses for growing my hair show weakness in me, but what can I say? I thought them, and I admit it.

And now my hair is getting longer and...guess what. I am thinking that perhaps I was better off with it short. It's starting to flip out funny, and I am remembering again how much of a pain the longer hair was to fix, and when I see pictures of it when it was longer, I keep thinking of how much more flattering the pictures of my hair shorter are. 
Anyhow, sometime in the middle of the moment this morning when I was looking into the mirror and loathing my hair, I thought of how so many of us look at the decisions we make as mommies in the same way I was looking at  my hair. We don't look at the decisions we make with acceptance, and we don't look at the decision-maker (ourselves) with tolerance. Instead, we pick at those decisions like we'd pick at a rough scab. We pick at them until they ooze.
Acceptance and tolerance: the cure for "Mommy Guilt"?
I guess that's called "Mommy Guilt". Why do we do this to ourselves? I've worked full-time with a baby, stayed at home with a baby and a preschooler, and worked part-time with my kids. And there's one thing I've learned: having kids makes it nearly impossible to achieve a life balance, no matter what setup you have. There are advantages and disadvantages to each setup, and no matter what you choose, you wonder what things would have been like if you'd have chosen differently.

And it's that way with more than the stay-at-home mom vs. working mom debate. We moms have to make choices about public school vs. private school vs. homeschooling, cloth or disposable diapers, the number of and types of activities our kids go to after school, how to allocate money for college, if and when we will allow our kids to have cell phones, who to leave our children to in our wills. 

I have spent hours second-guessing the choices I've made about my hair. I've spent years second-guessing the choices I've made as a mommy. I wonder if, in the end, I wouldn't be happier and everybody involved wouldn't be better off if I would just go with my gut--if I would just make decisions and stick with them. I wonder what it would take for me to stop looking back. 

But you know I'm going to grow my hair so I can get it cut again, and so do I. And then I'm going to grow it right back out again. 

And worrying over the decisions we make about our kids is one way that we love them.

Have you made any big parenting decisions and then second-guessed yourself later? Have you made any big hair decisions and second-guessed yourself afterwards? I'd love to hear about either one!

photo credit: sh0dan via photopin cc photo credit: Neal. via photopin cc

Here are some other great blog posts for you to browse.