Have you noticed that just before a woman has a baby, she chops all her hair off, and then spends the next few years growing it out past her elbows? There are reasons—actually 13—why she does this…
Scheduling a haircut is never easy, but once you have a child, getting a haircut takes divine intervention, planetary alignment, and a whopping dose of good luck.
1. First, you have to call ahead. This requires having the wherewithal to think multiple thoughts in a row: “I could probably sweep the floor with my hair. I guess I need a haircut . . . I should call and make an appointment . . . I should do that today.” (Meanwhile, the baby cries; the potty-trainee tinkles on the floor. All hair-related thoughts fly from your head.) Hours later, you vaguely remember: “I think I was supposed to call someone about something today. Maybe the vet? To get the dog groomed?” (Meanwhile, the baby cries again; the potty-trainee shouts, “I have to go potty! Oops. Never mind. I’m finished.”)
2. When you re-remember about making the hair appointment, you have to find where your toddler has hidden your phone. This could take days.
3. Once you find your phone, you realize that you might have to choose a new hairdresser, because it’s been so long that your old hairdresser has either moved away or broken up with you because you’ve rescheduled too many times. Choosing a new hairdresser is no small thing. It’s almost like getting married, only scarier and more expensive.
4. Then you have to find the phone number for the hair stylist your friend recommended; this number is not stored in your phone, of course—it is on a tiny business card that you’ve been carrying around for two years, since the last time it occurred to you that you should get a haircut. Eventually, you find the business card, coated in animal cracker crumbs at the bottom of your diaper bag, along with a fossilized banana, a melted crayon, and eighteen Legos.
5. You probably have to call the salon back four or five times, because the first three times you manage to find the phone and find the phone number, the minute you finish dialing, one of your children will get injured, or smother you with kisses, or yodel loudly for no reason except that they see you on the phone and sense that you want to leave the house for an hour to do something for yourself.
6. When you call to make the appointment, you have to remember all the school, sports, and social activities of every person in your household, and you also have to predict when one of your children will not be coming down with the flu. You should probably consult a fortune cookie or astrologist before making this decision.
7. Once you make the appointment, you have to remember to write it down. This is difficult, because the moment you hang up the phone, small people begin grabbing at you and begging you for something. By the time the grabbing and clamoring subsides, you have forgotten the date and time of your appointment. So you have to go back to step three: finding your phone and calling the salon.
8. Now comes the issue of childcare. You have to call a babysitter or beg a friend to have mercy on you. (This involves going back to steps three through six: finding the phone, looking up the phone number, and making the call.)
9. By this time, two or three months have passed, but you have successfully made an appointment and lined up childcare. You are in the middle of a victory dance when it occurs to you: Not only do you need to save enough money for the haircut and tip (and depending on the salon you choose, you may have to tip the hair washer, the hair cutter, the hair blow-dryer, the hair flat-ironer, and some guy standing in the lobby saying in a jaunty but possibly fake French accent, “Welcome to Salon Chic and Tres-Expensive”), but you ALSO need to save money to pay the babysitter. You auction off your great aunt’s wedding ring on eBay.
10. The week before Haircut Day, you put your house on lockdown and quarantine your children, so no one will get sick. No one goes in, no one goes out.
11. At last, the day before Haircut Day arrives. You check your children’s temperatures all day long, just to be sure no one is getting sick, because if you have to cancel, you need to do it more than 24 hours before the appointment. Cautiously, you whisper to yourself that this might actually happen. You might get to go. But you dare not speak the words out loud, lest the You-Counted-Your-Chickens-Before-They-Hatched Fairies hear you and seek revenge.
12. The morning of Haircut Day arrives. Before you even get out of bed, someone is shouting, “Mommyyyyyyyyy! He’s throwing up! In his bed! And on the floor! And in his hair!”
13. But it’s too late to cancel—if you reschedule now, you’ll still have to pay for the appointment. So you call and beg your babysitter to come, bribing her with overtime pay, a gift certificate to Outback (you’ll have to sell another heirloom), and a free gas mask. You sneak out of the house to the sound of betrayal and heartbreak, and arrive 15 minutes late to your appointment. It’s already been given to someone else, so you have to wait another hour for the next slot to open up. So you sit in the lobby for an hour, drinking the lemon water and reading magazines about famous people with nannies and personal hairstylists—the most peaceful hour you’ve had in weeks, even if it is mildly tainted with envy. You drift off to sleep; the welcome-to-the-salon-fake-French guy feels sorry for you, and covers you with a blanket. When you wake up, you feel so refreshed that you give him a double tip. At long last, you get your hair cut.
Feeling like a new woman, you float home, tossing your freshly styled hair over your shoulder, debating how long you can get away with not washing it so it will stay looking nice and smelling like fancy salon products . . . two days? Three days? You’ve just decided on three days when you walk through your front door for a joyful reunion with your children. The baby reaches for you, squealing with delight, and smears banana into your hair. Since you’re still reveling in the I-took-a-break-from-Mommying afterglow, you do not cry—you have grace to spare. You tell yourself that banana makes hair shiny, and you never liked New-Haircut Smell anyway. Besides, all is not lost. You’ll get to experience New Haircut Smell again in two years.