Mothers, Daughters and Going Gray

I guess I’m going gray at twenty-seven. It doesn’t bother me in the least, although apparently it’s supposed to.

I’d noticed a few strands of silver around my ears in recent months, which I credit entirely to my husband and baby. After the past two weeks of intense emotion and stress, after my exam and our family tragedy, there seem to be new wiry whites each time I take a close look.

Not only do I have no regret for their presence; I like them. I get a little thrill when I see one amid the brown waves, much like the feeling when I spy a four-leaf clover. My heart pounds a little. I run it through my fingers admiringly. I lay it across the uniform blanket of hairs beneath, enjoying how it stands out. I turn my head to see how the light changes the tint.

I have never colored my hair. It’s what I consider dark blonde, brown underneath with natural highlights at the front. I have always been content with the hue and declined to dye it on principle. My mom has always dyed her hair. In fact, I’m not certain what her natural color is, or at what age she went gray. I doubt she does either.

My mom has always itched to change my hair color, which only solidifies my resolve to keep it natural forever. She imagines how much less plain she could make it.

I always told my husband that if I went gray at twenty-five, then so be it. It would stay that way. I may even have said thirty. Little did I know.

Pregnancy and postpartum have been kind to my appearance. I’m twelve pounds lighter than I was when I got pregnant; I weigh about what I did when I started college. My breasts have changed more than I expected, and they will undoubtedly continue to as I eventually quit breastfeeding and then go through the whole hormonal process again with future child(ren). Luckily my husband still seems to like them just fine. My tummy is flatter but the skin over it softer. I actually have abs, albeit with persisting diastasis recti, the separation of abdominal muscles during pregnancy.

It has always pained me to watch my mother resist getting older, resenting her body for showing any wear. She celebrates young, thin and smooth. She is stunning, yet she only sees her flaws, and she hates them energetically.

My lovely mother’s self-loathing is my inspiration to grow old with dignity and grace– in spite of the example she has set, as with the hair coloring. Even if it starts at twenty-seven.

I acknowledge that I may feel differently in ten or twenty years, when I feel my body aging and want to beat my decline. Perhaps I will look back with golden locks on today’s naivety. Perhaps then I will understand my mom’s inner torment and her desperate battle.

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