I grew up with two sisters close in age to me, so when I ended up with four little daughters of my own in a 6-and-a-half-year period, I thought I knew what I was in for.
Buckets of tears? Sure. Wild swinging between the best of friends and the worst of enemies? Sign me up. Twirly dresses and terrifying acrobatics on the trampoline, and a love for all things pink? I was ready (even if my favorite color has always been blue).
But I was utterly unprepared for the hair.
It’s probably fairly impossible to imagine having little girls without at least some momentary thought about pigtails and hair bows and headbands. But I did not fully grasp how much of my life would be consumed by their hair. I had no idea that being mom to four little girls meant doing hair would become my full-time job.
My children are all blessed with unbelievable bedhead, so walking out the door without doing their hair isn’t really an option, unless I want to risk being mistaken for a pack of feral cats skulking into the grocery store.
So leaving the house for school, church, a day trip or just a library run means not only making sure all four children are clothed and have shoes on, but also that their hair is done.
Of course, my girls’ feelings about their hair vacillate more wildly than May temperatures. Some days, they fuss and complain if I even try to brush it. Other days (usually the days when we are in the biggest hurry), they insist the only hairstyle that will suffice is an incredibly elaborate Elsa braid.
Worse still are the mornings where they resist any hairstyle at all and then, when I’ve given up after a few brush strokes, they decide as we’re walking out the door that, no, actually, they’d love a big fancy crown braid. "Just kidding about the 10 minutes of sobbing, mom!"
My own hair at those moments is in real danger of being pulled completely out.
Predicably, when I do bestow the longed-for Elsa braids or other elaborate YouTube worthy hairstyles (I lie, I do nothing YouTube worthy), seven minutes later, they are rolling around on the floor or putting blankets over their heads. That painstakingly made braid now looks like a giant rat’s nest.
No offense to rats.
And those tiny rubber bands? Forget rabbits, NOTHING multiplies like those tiny elastics. They are everywhere in my house, scattered along every crevice of the floor in my bathroom and my girls’ bathroom from the dozens of times my children have spilled the box that holds them.
I’m constantly picking up twisted and broken rubber bands from the kitchen counter, the couch, the bathroom counter and the car where my girls decided they were done having braids or pigtails for the day and pulled them out, discarding them wherever they were.
I love having girls and have never wished for sons instead.
Except when we get together with my family for a big group photo and while I’m brushing and curling and braiding and bestowing hair bows, my sisters, who both only have boys, do a cursory brush of their sons’ hair and, like magic, they are completely presentable.
At those moments, I admit to a tinge of jealousy for those little buzz-cut boys.
Right now, my fourth daughter is so little that her hair is more like peach fuzz and “doing” her hair means slipping a little hairband around her tiny noggin and calling it a day.
And I secretly wish it’d stay that easy forever.