Aside from the infamous messy bun, there is a running joke about "the mom haircut" - a short, no-nonsense sort of style. What is it about giving birth that makes some women chop off their long locks? The answer should be obvious. If it's not, then you've clearly never dealt with a grabby baby who likes to yank your hair at every opportunity.
Here are the three main reasons I decided to chop mine off. After that, I'll show you the results - and tell you why it made me cry.
Look at how much hair I cut off - but more importantly, look how damaged it was.
Reason #1 - My hair was very damaged.
I don't particularly want to keep a short hairstyle long-term. I love having my hair long. But I also love how healthy it is when it's shorter, and the way it feels when I shake my head around. There's nothing quite like that running your hair through short choppy locks. I'm not kidding you, I crave that feeling. It's this weird phenomenon. Once the idea of cutting my hair is planted in my mind, I can't resist the urge. The only question is when will I finally give in.
For those of you who don't know, I color my hair pretty often - blue, pink, red, purple, whatever. I'm always throwing some mermaid-y dye on it. And since I'm a mom, I usually wear it pulled up in a tight ponytail or a messy bun. Even though I use a lot of conditioning products and avoid hot styling tools, there was a lot of damage to my hair that couldn't be undone. I could've kept it long and just cut off the ends inches at a time until the damage was gone, but that would've taken years, and the idea of just slicing off the damage and starting fresh was too appealing.
Reason #2 - I was tired of always wearing it pulled up.
What's the point in even having long hair if you can never wear it down? I can't remember if my older two boys were like this, but my youngest baby will constantly pull my hair if I leave it down, especially while nursing. That shit hurts.
There have been a few times when we were leaving the house to go eat or something and I took the time to wash, dry, and curl my hair, only to have to throw it back up on top of my head by the time we made it to the restaurant.
Even without my baby's hair-yanking habit, my long hair was just in the way. From running around picking up toys to doing laundry and dishes, it would be constantly hitting me in the face if I didn't keep it pulled back.
Motherhood is an extreme sport. How many long-haired athletes do you see playing a game with their hair down? Exactly.
This is what my hair looked like on a good day.
Reason #3 - I needed something quick and easy.
Two words: time management. I'm taking care of a baby all day, homeschooling two kids, working as a freelance writer, and maintaining Salty Mermaid Entertainment, in addition to the regular household stuff like cooking and cleaning. All jokes aside, any day I get to actually take a shower is a special day, and even then, I usually have to let the baby tag along. I absolutely do not have time to waste on an extensive grooming routine.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Short hair can actually require a long time to fix, if you're not careful about what style you choose. And what could be faster or easier than throwing your long hair into a messy bun?
Well... after wearing my hair up for days in a row, sleeping on it, and not washing it every day... um, yikes. My hair would become a giant fucking bird's nest. It was awful. I'm not exaggerating when I say it would take me at least 20 minutes to untangle it, and brushing it just made it more broken and damaged than it already was.
By the time I finished getting all the knots out, I'd barely have time to jump in the shower. Plus, washing long hair and drying long hair takes a lot longer than short hair, even if you don't style it. Do you know how defeating it is to spend so much time on your head just to throw it right back into a messy bun and start the process over again?
Sometimes I'd put my hair in a braid or wear a headband to feel better about myself, but it never lasted. The good thing is I can still use those super cute headbands with my short hair to mix things up and keep the hair off my face, but I don't have to worry about those godfreakingawful tangles like I used to.
Now I can brush my hair every single day super quickly, and the time I would have spent on detangling can be used for doing something extra like makeup.
That's the why. Here's the thing that happened that I wasn't expecting.
First, there's something you should know about me. I'm not overly-attached to my hair. If I mess up the color or cut, it's really easy for me to roll with it. I've colored my hair purple while trying to make it red before, accidentally given myself bangs, and even this time around, I didn't end up with the exact style I was going for.
Hair is just a fun accessory for me. If I get too bored with it being short, I'll get a wig or extensions. If I end up with a color I hate, I'll wear a hat until I decide what color to replace it with. The main reason I'm comfortable dying and cutting my own hair is because I just don't care that much if I mess up.
So imagine my surprise when I looked into the mirror this time and burst into tears.
I wasn't crying for the reasons you may think, though. I wasn't filled with regret. I didn't find my new appearance unbearably unattractive. My tears were actually... happy.
"I love it!" one of my friends told me when I showed her the results. "I can't get over how different you look, tho. Wow!"
And that's the thing that got me. I do look different now. But oddly enough, when I looked into the mirror after using the scissors, I felt like I suddenly recognized myself for the first time in a long time.
Ta-da. Here's the final look. (I changed the color, too.)
I didn't look like a frazzled mom without enough time or energy to shower. I didn't look defeated or overwhelmed. I didn't look like a person who'd given up on herself.
I saw a woman. I saw a writer, a hard worker, a deep thinker. I saw a creative person with fun ideas and a good sense of humor.
I saw me.
Click this picture to see this shirt and other cute options on Amazon.
Now, obviously, there have been moments before this where I've done my hair and makeup, maybe put on a cute outfit, and felt pretty damn good about myself. So what made this different? I think it's because I instinctively knew this was not just a one-day thing. This is a simple hairstyle that I can rock daily. I can barely put it into a ponytail (bunny tail?) so there's not a messy bun in my future for a long time. And I don't know what to say about that is that it's a huge relief.
It's such a small thing, but suddenly I'm a person who brushes her hair every day. I even have time to wash it and to put on makeup on the regular.
Motherhood is such a massive, important role that it's really easy to get lost in it. You're so used to putting everyone else's needs before your own that you forget how to take care of yourself. No wonder the depression rates are so high for moms.
I love being a mom, but motherhood alone doesn't define me. It's pretty crazy that it took a haircut to remind me of that.
Technically, my hair is still plenty long enough for him to pull, but he hasn't figured that out yet.
Check out some of my favorite Mermaid-y Hair products here.
Jennifer Scott Pickett is a freelance writer for hire who specializes in parenting and lifestyle content. She is half of the comedy duo that makes up Salty Mermaid Entertainment based in Atlanta, GA. In her free time - Wait. She's a mom of three. She doesn't have any free time. Learn more by clicking here.