Poems & Essays

15 Feb

Stop Telling Me To Cut My Toddler’s Hair

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Some babies are born with full heads of hair, but not mine. My daughter entered the world with whispers of strawberry blonde in tufts and swirls. Oh, how I cherished those downy patterns. I’d kiss them in comfort and adoration. I’d rock her in the nursery and run my hand in circles over them countless times. I’d breathe in it’s sweetness and revel in its unmatched softness. But her hair, like everything else about her, grew. And before I was ready those swirls were hidden from sight.

The little tufts filled out, becoming unruly bronze locks. The wisp on her crown spilling over, falling just on the bridge of her button nose. Believe me, I’ve tried everything to tame that wild tress. Clips, bows, hair-ties and hats all meet a similar fate; ripped off and discarded on the floor of the car or buried at the bottom of the toy box. It’s amazing all the chasing, wriggling, and re-doing I endure to secure those fussy accessories. All just for her dimpled hand to reach up and pull it out. When that strand falls back into her heart-shaped face she truly smiles.

People often ask me why I don’t just cut it off. “That way she wouldn’t look so messy!”, they chide. “She’d look so sweet with little bangs!” they encourage. “It’ll grow out.” I often reply with a wry smile.

It is such a part of her, that foremost wisp. It has been dragged through tears, pulled by her baby brother, dried to her face by applesauce, and stuck up like Alfalfa with shampoo during bath time. When she looks up at me it frames her doe eyes, playful or pouting. I tuck it behind her ear as I giggle to her in mock-secret. I twirl it ’round my finger as I sing to her at night. I brush it off her ample cheek before stamping it with kisses. It is such a part of us; of who we are together.

Part of being a mother is learning to let go. Despite our wishes, we remain powerless over the passage of time. We are helpless spectators of the bittersweet growth of our children. There are so many things that are out of my control, so much I have to let go of. I’ve packed up the swaddles and the binkies. I’ve shelved once-loved stuffed animals and now-boring books. I’ve committed her dove-like coos and gummy smiles to memory. My heart barely has time to process the changes as we move simultaneously from one phase to the next.

I wish they would stop telling me to cut my toddler’s hair. It has taken this journey along with us. Present from the beginning. Grown from a tuft into something wild and pure. Beautiful and free. I can’t keep her small or slow her down, and I wouldn’t dream of holding her back, but I can leave those baby hairs intact and let them linger for just a little longer. So when that boy mom you know is still letting her son sport a man-bun even though he’s mistaken for a girl sometimes, try to understand. Is it really so wrong of us to want to hold on to these little locks for just a little longer?

That rogue wisp of hair is still “growing out,” but I know that the time for that first cut is coming up quick. When it does, well-meaning loved ones will sigh in relief and her dad and I will marvel at how much our baby girl has grown. I’ll tie the precious cowlick in a ribbon and keep it always. When I brush my fingers over it, I will remember those dreamy days of wisp and swirl and feel grateful for the joy my daughter brings to me in every stage.



Cait Winters is a Massachusetts mom of 3 living in a small, woodsy town with her kids, husband and dog. She is a poet at heart with a love of blogging, wine, and musty old New England library books.

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