Gray Isn’t A Color. It Is A Feeling.

Dear World,

I looked in the mirror about a week ago and I realized that I had a few extra gray hairs that were not there previously. I vent this to you because my husband has had gray hair for most of his life, in the form of a birthmark, so he is unsympathetic to this phenomenon of aging. I typically do not stress over the thought of getting older but for some reason a few grays seem daunting to me.

I have had the onset of grays  for many years now. They would pop up and reek havoc on my smooth head of hair one at a time.  As if a stray gray hair wasn’t bad enough, they find a way to never go where you want them to. Gel is no match for them. They defy all attempts at creating a smooth and clean look. They are course and unruly like the people that I serve at work and for that I am even more irritated.

Over the course of the past few years these said, gray hairs, have appeared and disappeared. I have gotten highlights a few times which made the grays fit in a little better. I have rolled my eyes when a hair dressers says to me “oh there aren’t any grays here” and then puts a streak of light hair in that spot to cover them. They are surely present and as I look in the mirror today I wonder what it is about a gray hair that makes me so crazy.

Brian tells me all of the time that he finds older women that embrace their gray hair attractive. I don’t feel less attractive having them, but I can’t help but focus on their existence. Why is it that a small hair that is a different color makes me suddenly feel so old?

To those of you who are older than I, please don’t take offense. I am by no means considering myself to be “old” so to anyone that is my senior please know that I am not putting down your years of youth. I am more or less pondering the hold that a tiny hair has on my opinion of myself. How did this hair become so powerful?

It is like looking in the mirror and seeing these impostors, that I am reminded daily that something is changing in myself. I would love to think of myself as a wine, better with age, but the truth is that I am probably more of the vinegar varietal. While I do attribute some knowledge that comes with age, I am not so sure if I should be considered a fine wine.

I am fully aware that the affect of a gray hair on my head is zero. It will not affect how I work, play, cook, love, hate, fight, exercise etc. It has no bearing on anything other than the appearance of my hair….. and yet it bothers me.

Don’t act like I am vein either. There are more than enough of you out there that are also intimidated by these stray brillo pad hairs. I am not the first person, male or female, to feel less than welcoming to their arrival.

To be totally honest, I wish that they were on my head since childhood. I think Brian is lucky in a way. He doesn’t see the color of those hairs as anything to do with age, however for me, it is all about age.

It is all about what changes my body and mind will go through. It has every detail of getting older wrapped up in a course, wiry, brillo pad stray hair that has inhabited my head.

I already see changes in myself that have come with age. Ten years ago, I was riding roller coasters and enjoying amusement parks over summer break. Today, I am scared to swing on a swing set too high. I went camping this past weekend and took a ride on a pontoon boat. I am sure that it will be the last time I am invited on a boat! Every wave scared me and I felt like I was on some mega roller coaster ride. I have turned into my mom.

I feel like the gray hairs have come and now I will be the mom that pushes the stroller and holds all of the stuff while everyone else rides the rides. I crossed a line into  “I no longer feel young” land and I’m not sure if I should be here.

It is kind of ironic because at least ten years ago I was saying that I felt like a ninety year old in a twenty-four year old’s body. I always felt older than the people that I was around. I guess now that I am actually getting older visibly, that it is sort of playing a mind game on me.

I really want to be able to embrace the gray but I am just not sure if we are on the same team yet. One or two were hide-able and doable but a whole bunch just popping up are a little less welcomed. And to be honest, why don’t the grays pop up on the bottom of your hair?

I would care less if I pulled up my hair and had a streak of wisdom on the bottom of my pony tail. Instead it will be in my face line. This is why grays are so hated. They couldn’t possibly come up slow in a indiscreet spot. Nope, lets take root right where we can see ourselves each day. You think I’m vain!

We can all pretend that a few grays mean nothing but I think that the reality is, that they are another way that life tests us. You may feel on top of your game but up sprouts a few grays and suddenly you are packing your bags for the nursing home and your food is being served puree form. Gray hairs are an international symbol for old and nobody can deny that.

I am looking to think past international symbols and create my own. Today, gray is the new youth. It is vibrant and feisty. It will kick your ass if necessary just as long as you don’t ask it to get on a pontoon boat. I’m going to pull out my grays that refuse to conform to the smooth protocol and if they choose to multiply, that is their loss because I will pull out their friends also.

In all reality, I won’t pull them and I won’t have enough money to dye them. They will continue to grow on my head and I will have to learn to share a space with these outsiders. I guess that is what life is all about. Welcoming the ones that are different and learning something if you can.

Love, Cherise

P.S. If stray purple hairs were sprouting, I would be writing a post about how youthful I feel. So I blame it on the fact that gray isn’t just a color. It is a feeling.

A Five Star Mom

Dear World,

Finally, the baby watch has ended for Kate and William! I wish the Duchess and her new baby well as they embark on the journey of motherhood together. Cassidy happens to be very interested in the royal baby. She was hoping that the baby came on her birthday which was this past weekend. Sadly, she will not share a birthday but it was close enough.

As Cassidy asked questions about the royal family and the new baby, she paused for a minute and then said “we should send them something for their new baby.” An incredibly thoughtful idea, however I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the royal family has anything that they could ever want. Instead I told her that maybe a letter to the Duchess would be a nice idea too. She agreed!

All this talk of new babies got me thinking about the journey from new mom to slightly experienced in almost nothing yet mom. It has been a long road, but I am finally sucking less at this whole mom thing. Truth be said, it takes a ton of work and patience and some days I don’t have a ton of either in me.

I stopped to think today of some of the things that have changed in my life since having children. At first I thought of the changes as a curse, but now I realize that some of these changes are the very changes that have earned me my “mommy stripes.”

That’s right, moms do amazing things and usually they go unnoticed. So they way I see it, we are all decorated with medals and stripes for our acts of selflessness on a daily basis.

My first stripe is a common one. It is earned for not ever having another good night of sleep again. This stripe you start earning from the second that you become pregnant. Slowly but surely the nights become more difficult to sleep until you finally have your bundle of joy. Now it is impossible.

Good news is that the bundle does grow up and learn to sleep the whole night through. The bad news is that for the rest of your life you will jump up out of a deep sleep at the tiniest sound for fear that something is wrong or has happened to your bundle. The worst news is, and I learned this from my own mom as I have not experienced it yet, that even when your children are grown and gone you will still worry in your sleep if you do not know that they are safe and sound.

The next stripe is earned for my new lack of modesty. No need to cover up with a towel when I get out of the shower because I have an audience for the majority of it. As little ones it was easier to just bath or shower with them. Suddenly, they were big enough to shower on their own and somehow my shower is still a public event.

Four times today the door opened with a little face in it as I showered. I had to hand out a time out while shampooing. It is also impossible to go to the bathroom by myself any longer. I could be ignored for hours but dare I have to use the bathroom…. well suddenly I become the most amazing thing since sliced bread.

So no, there is no longer any need for modesty. Yup, that’s the stripe that I earn daily.

Another stripe is earned for my ability to talk about poop and pee like it is my job. I am constantly wiping a butt or cleaning up a mess that needs no more explanation. I talk about poop and pee at any given moment and sometimes when I am back in the world of adults without children, I forget that it isn’t appropriate conversation.

My dinner table is often filled with conversations of who has gone or who needs to go. I assure you that if Jacob sees peas on his plate, it is his turn to go,  because he hates peas. If Cassidy has finished her food first and no longer wants to sit with us, she suddenly feels an urge.

Yes the bathroom talk that was once only aloud in the bathroom is now in every room of my house every day. I ask on a regular basis “did you poop?” I have become a bathroom monitor, and so I proudly earn this strip.

I also proudly earn the heavy baggage stripe. I used to be able to go out on a moments notice and just grab my purse. It would take me seconds to walk out the door. Now, it is an hour process. Dare I plan to leave the house for several hours with kids. Now you are talking about serious luggage. Extra clothes, snacks, drinks, wipes, sanitizer, toys, books etc. are all on the list. God forbid we leave home without any of them.

We plan to do a weekend camping trip and as we start to think about what will bring, it is mind blowing how much stuff these little people need!

I earn a gold star for giving up the last bite. Never again will I know what the last bite of anything is. It seems that as soon as one of my children see that there is only one bite left on my plate, they want it. They hardly eat their own some days but for some reason my last bite is the tastiest. I usually end up cutting my last bite in two. One for Cassidy and one for Jacob. On a rare occasion it will be in three, Cassidy, Jacob and Brian.

Either way I’ve tasted very few last bites since I’ve had kids. You’d think that it would be an amazing weight loss plan but sadly I just wait till they are in bed to snack.

As moms we have all earned our share of stripes. Our feet are calloused from stepping on legos and our toes have been stubbed on many a toy. We have worn puke and drool like it was a fashion statement. We sit on the floor instead of the couch because that’s where the action is. We worry needlessly and excessively that  we are doing the right things.

Every diaper that I have changed has changed me. Every mess that I have cleaned has done the same. I have earned so many mommy stripes that I can no longer count them. Every change that has happened in my life since I’ve had kids has been rewarding in some way or another.

I earn my biggest medal for the love that I have still to share with my two babies. Sure my life has changed and things are sometimes harder with kids than without. Brian and I do enjoy a night to ourselves here and there. All in all, though, I can’t imagine my life without these two little angels.

Cassidy was telling me about a story from the bible where there was a miracle. She asked me if I had ever had one.

I said “I’ve had two miracles in my life so far” and I pointed to her and her brother. She asked if having a baby was a miracle. I said it was without a doubt a miracle, one that I am thankful for each day. I earn my mommy stripes proudly, because each stripe represents how much I am in love with my babies. I plan to earn many more but in the meantime I am going to celebrate being a seriously decorated mom!!

Love, Cherise