February 28, 2013

The Braid

"One of the Brown girls had her hair in a heart braid at class on Friday," she says with an accusing smirk.

I'm up to my elbows in coconut oil and hair.  It's washing day and we have already had an issue.  I washed and began drying using the hair dryer.  Which caused pouting and tears from her, anger and frustration from me.  All because she wanted me to use the flat iron to straighten her hair.  Her wet hair...with a flat iron.  She couldn't see that her hair was being straightened with the brush and hair dryer.  So she pouted and shrugged and pulled against the brush.


I reacted.  I turned her to face the mirror and her glare softened.  She apologized and I continued brushing.  Letting my hidden anger out with a sigh.

She barbs me with her comment just as I finish drying her hair.  It's glowing and soft, perfect for braiding. I tell her as much, then she follows with her comment.  Supposed to be an offhanded remark, but I read into it.  I grunt.

Yeah, I grunted.

Because, I just spent an hour on your hair and now, I think, you are going to try to make me feel bad.  She doesn't disappoint me, as she follows up her comment with, "Heart braids are probably too hard for you.  It would be impossible for me to have one."

Oh, here we go, try to manipulate me! Are you daring me to braid your hair into a heart?

Funny.  Bonding over hair.  It always starts with contention.  As I work the coconut oil into her hair, our hearts soften too.  This heart braid, she thinks I can't do it.  And I accept her challenge, just to prove my worthiness.  I always feel this way around our youngest daughter.  A complicated relationship that makes both of us so insecure.  She puts me in a place in order to prove myself capable of raising her.

I. Am. The. Adult.  Said with a foot stomp.


We talk about this heart braid for a minute and agree that it's worth a try.  She cranes her neck and I braid as quickly as I can.  The braid begins to take shape and she chatters happily as I listen.  When it's nearly done, I show her my handiwork and she's delighted.  I'm delighted.  We share a victory.  So much more than just a braid. 

Dear me, what will we do when she begins to do her own hair?  Or the salon? She'll fall in love with another woman!


kellygriffiths said...

Thanks for the beautiful moment inside a mom's heart! And how beautiful! I'm dying to see the back. Tease.

Karen said...

Oh Apryl - this is so beautifully written! Thank you for sharing this precious glimpse into the complex relationships of moms and daughters. Hugs - Karen Wistrom

Maggie Moser said...

We miss you guys so much! Tell Ella I said Happy Birthday!!H