on being bald

i should have seen it coming, but i didn’t.
we were checking out books at the library, at the nifty self-service kiosk, all four kids & i. libraries are notoriously kid-friendly, so, being one of the few places i’ll venture by myself, my guard was down.  & self-service kiosks, really.  freaking brilliant.  unless you’re attempting to maneuver one with an ambitious toddler & three other children, noses embedded in books.

my fatal mistake:  not letting leif check out his own book.
without thinking, i whipped his picture book “we’re going on a bear hunt” through the bleeper & handed it to him, setting him down beside us so he could sit quietly & look at his book while i herded the other three kids through, their mountainous stacks too much for their small arms.  you caught that, didn’t you?  sit.  quietly.  you’d think i’d never met my own son.  hello.

you can imagine the rest, but i don’t know if you’d get the part where leif was digging his fingernails into the back of kieran’s calves, trying to dismount him from the stool.  & you might not picture the fit he threw, both in my arms & in the entryway after i abandoned thalia at the kiosk completely so i wouldn’t make such. a. scene.

i wanted you to have the full picture.
you’re welcome.

because the full picture also includes my total inability to keep track of all four of my kids in the library (or anywhere, who are we kidding?), get them out without at least two of them straggling, & my unbelievable concern of what the librarians, those sweet & genteel ladies, thought of me jumping ship on my 8-year-old & bear-hugging my toddler to prevent (anymore) physical harm to any by-standing siblings.

whenever i recount these stories to andy, he ALWAYS begins humming, quietly at first, the circus theme song.

if the shoe fits. . . .

the funny thing is, i’m surprised how much i care.
i mean, a long time ago i lost all my hair, & with it, i had to shed a whole heap of what people thought of me.  i went from young woman with insanely long, straight, blonde hair to prickly bear who buzzes her scalp clean every other thursday.
this, from my coaching days.  i’m holding a BULLDOG.  with a CHAIN.  you’re not even noticing my hair, are you. . . . 

anyway, losing all my hair was the fear i was most afraid of in my life.  i remember sitting at my grandma’s kitchen table when i was little, nervously stealing glimpses at my aunt in her red bandana.  she also had alopecia (the latin name for “you have no hair & we can’t figure out why”.), which was really unusual, because we weren’t blood-related.  (alopecia is sort of genetic.) i remember thinking, “if i ever lost all my hair like her, i would die.”

i had already started losing my hair then, but all of it didn’t fall out until 10 years ago, after i started having kids.  i remember crying & crying in the shower as huge globs of hair just came out in my hands.  it was really, really terrible.  i had a little boy, & my whole life seemed to be imploding.

but it didn’t.  & i didn’t.

& when the worst thing you can possibly imagine from the time you are very young happens, well, you don’t just cease to exist.  you don’t.  you live through it, so help you God, & when you start to see the other side, you realize going through that horrible valley sloughed a lot of other stuff, too.

which is why i’m so surprised i still care so very much what some anonymous (though kindly) librarians think of me.  i mean, really.  i may have 4 children mildly out of control, but they’re probably more concerned with my baldness & my nose ring.  let’s be honest.
my attempt at a selfie a few weeks ago, to show you the shiner leif gave me with a  head-butt first thing in the morning.  thank you, honey.  mommy loves you.

anyway, i’ve been wanting to crack open this cavern about being bald since i started writing in this space.  i guess tonight was it.
one of a gazillion cartoons andy used to draw of us.  we used to look like this.  as cartoons, anyway.  

17 thoughts on “on being bald

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I have a friend with alopecia; she’s a big fan of wigs. But I always thought that if it were me, I’d be more like you. A bandana – maybe – when I felt like being fancy. 😉 I think you look beautiful and strong. And I hope that you feel just a little bit liberated; all that long hair can really weigh on one.

    1. Ann, thank you for your kind words! I do feel strong & healthy! & I decided when this hair loss bit all went down that the way for me to be the most “me” was to own it & not go with a wig. & yes, you’re right: at the end of the day it’s unbelievably liberating!

  2. Well written, Sweets! It was all the heart felt passion, understanding, and sincerity that attracted me to you in the beginning and that has me hopelessly in love with you now. Let the hair fall and the wrinkles come, our love (and circus) will go on:)

    1. Britz, I certainly have the better end of this deal, circus & all. Wrinkles or hair, what the heck, huh?! Thanks for hanging out with me, here & otherwise. You are IT. XO.

  3. I absolutely love this! I have a friend who has lost most of her hair, and rather than go the wig route, she chooses to wear beautiful scarves or bandanas. You had me laughing (and totally relating) as you shared your library story….needless to say, you’re much braver than I am, because I QUIT taking my kids to the library! Now I just go and pick out their books for them! Mean mommy, I know. But this, nobody gets hurt; at least not at the library!😃

    And can I just say that I LOVE your nose ring. And I want one. But I haven’t convinced my hubby yet as to why his 43 year-old wife should get a nose ring. After all, I’m 43. But I want one, and I’m not giving up!

    1. Patty, thanks for reading here! & for commiserating on nose rings. ;). I love mine, truly. Thanks for sharing about your own version of library crazy. . . . I may have to try solo a little more often. That would save a heap of overwhelm!!!

  4. I found your blog through a link at Amongst Lovely Things. Although I don’t have alopecia, my 16yo does and has since she was 5. She currently has about 30-40% of her hair, and “luckily” it is mostly growing from the top of her head so with judicious styling she looks like she has hair, particularly with a hat or bandana on. Thank you for talking about it, my dd needs to see women living their lives with alopecia. She’s fine about it some days and not very fine at all on others. Understandably. She does love that she doesn’t have to shave her legs though! LOL

    1. Yes to no shaving! There ARE benefits to this crazy. I did YEARS of “judicious” hairstyling, so I totally get it. it is no simple calling to have your beauty challenged as a teenager. Hugs & much love to your girl, & strength to you as her safety net. 🙂

  5. My middle child, a girl of 8, developed alopecia areata two years ago. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.
    Michelle

    1. Michelle, thank you for commenting. I developed alopecia at 9. What I remember was how important my family’s love & support was to me, that I was still okay in spite of what was happening. You are a solid rock for your girl, & that will make the weathering easier for her. Much love to you both!

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