Wild as a Dandelion
“Can I pluck my eyebrows, Mom?” I asked when I was a freshman in high school.
“Are you crazy? Absolutely not,” my mom directed. “Don’t you ever do it.”
Growing up with 100 percent Greek ancestry, I was destined for thick eyebrows. I guess I should have thanked the Greek Gods that they didn’t grant me just one long one, growing like a weed between my almost-black eyes. Yes, I should have considered myself lucky—I had two separate brows. They stretched like reaching hands—trying to join above the nose, but the brows never quite linked fingers. But yet, I still wanted them thinner. More like the whiter girls in my classes. Their brows were faint and light, arced like skinny rainbows highlighting their faces.
I wondered, What are the upperclassmen staring at more, my braces or my almost-unibrow?
When I entered my sophomore year of college, with a very low GPA, I started making more of my own decisions: what classes I took, who I made out with, and what alcohol I drank. And finally—I grabbed the silver tweezers, and plucked my forbidden eyebrows. One by one, they fell into the sink.
About a week after my brows took an ax, my parents came to watch one of my home soccer games, and like always, after the game we climbed up to my dorm room. My mom huffed up the stairs while carrying a box full of Easy Mac, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and her famous spaghetti. She threw the door open. My mom never judged me on the soccer field so I was trying to figure out why she seemed so upset. After entering the messy room, I sat down on my bed before hopping in the shower. Standing over me she asked, “What in the hell did you do to your eyebrows?”
“What’s the big deal? I just plucked them a little,” I said. But all of a sudden, a boulder of regret sat in my gut.
“A little?” she persisted. Her eyes took aim at mine—and disappointment fired.
“Mom, they’ll grow back. It’s fine.” I said.
“No,” she said. “They won’t. They’ll never be the same.”
Turned out, she was right.
After the thin eyebrow trend was over, I stopped plucking them. That was over a decade ago. And although, they’re still thicker than most, they’re not what they used to be. At thirty-six, my body, face, and hair are all changing more than I’d like them to. And I’d worship any Greek God to have those thick brows awarded back to me.
The older you get, the more of an individual you want to be. But when you’re young, you always strive to be everyone else. We want to be the blades of grass—never a dandelion. Although dandelions are wild weeds, they pop. Despite the fact that they’re a little gnarly, they attract. They’re contagious. No, they don’t bloom in their own immaculate beds like a flower. Other dandelions grow all around them because they see that to be vibrant, you also have to be a little wild.
Yet, every spring these dandelions cause a raucous on our lawns. So we spray chemicals on the pops of yellow—killing them, making sure they never return. We’d rather our lawns all look the same—uniform. In high school and college, I desired to be wild, but I also strove to be the grass. I didn’t want to stand unique and proud like a dandelion. Instead, I mixed in with the others. Conforming.
I now have my own daughter. At three-years-old, she’s already unruly. She climbed up the slide before she could walk. At age one, I caught her shaking her hips dancing on top of our dinner table. And now, there is a picture of her face in the dictionary, sticking out her tongue, next to the word, defiant. I couldn’t be more proud.
Not only is my daughter disobedient like her mother, but her eyebrows are, too. Yes, they are faint still. Her hair hasn’t quite darkened yet. But anyone can tell—puberty will make them grow thick and dark. And I will give her the same advice my mother gave me, “Never pluck your eyebrows.” Because being a wild weed, is a hell of a lot better than a simple blade of grass.
Angela Anagnost Repke lives with her family of four in Michigan. She is a flawed mother who turns to writing to help in both her daily blunders and rediscovering herself outside of being a mother. Angela is a contributor at POPSUGAR and Parent Co, and has also been published in Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, MSN Lifestyle, BLUNTMoms, Mothers Always Write, and others. She has a forthcoming essay in an anthology by Belt Publishing. Angela is passionate about the comradery of motherhood and is an advocate of moms’ night out that involves too many cocktails. She is at work on a memoir.