I just gave my son a haircut — his first major one to date in his seventeen months of life. (Yes, I’m sure there’s some sort of gender bias there, but his hair was getting in his eyes, and I will not abide a mullet, jazz hands or no.) I swept up his soft little locks with a tiny hand broom and as I opened the trashcan I paused. There was something wrong — something heart-rendingly wrong about mixing in his baby hair with the chicken juice, snotty tissues, and floor scraps.
Look, I know hair is dead, and frankly, sometimes hair is just creepy. But what struck me at the kitchen garbage, breathing in fumes of rot, was that, the act of throwing away his delicate hair felt like I was throwing away him. The smaller him. The crawling-cutting-his-first-teeth-pureed-food-two-nap-snuggle-bug him. In tossing out his hair, I was finally saying goodbye to that season of life, for him and for me.
There have been a lot of blog posts recently about what it feels like to be told “they grow up too fast so enjoy every minute.” Steve Wiens (husband of last week’s guest blogger Mary) had an excellent example here. I’m not a fan of being told this either, especially in the middle of Target when one child is imitating the orangutans we just saw at the zoo and the other is eyeing the massive pink rabbit, face about to crumple into piteous pleading. I know for a fact I will not miss hearing my daughter whine. I also know for a fact I will miss her naïve and boundless joy with the world and her unfaltering faith in me. Both in a few short years, and when I’m 80.
So for the record, for now, standing with the last tangible remnants of my son’s babyhood scattered together with fallen peas, Cheerios, and dust, I soaked in the moment. Flooded with honeyed memories, and knowing, with that mix of grief and thrill, that this too must end. We both must move on to full-fledge, flailing toddlerhood. His hair must go in to the bin, memories into the store of my heart. That hair is a part of him no longer.
But that would be fruitless. And make me smelly. So in the end, I resign myself to the knowledge of future bitter-sweetness. Future afternoons of a quite house, my frail knobbed fingers, and tears down my wrinkles for little lost hairs, gone to the dust.
Also knowing, with blessed contentment, that I will never feel that way about his diapers.
How about you – what brings back happy memories of your children or your childhood? What was hard for you to throw away?