It’s Okay to Blink.

Earlier this week, a post appeared in my Facebook newsfeed that said something along the lines of "Thanks, now I know what each of your children look like and what grade they are in." As if I needed a reminder that I'm smack dab in the middle of "Club 30", the prevalance of back to school photos are proof – I'm a parent, and so are most of the rest of you.

I like the back to school photos, and I'm entertained by the range of effort from "this is my kid on the first day of school" to "this is my child's full name, age, teacher, likes, dislikes and career aspirations as of this very moment."

What pains me are the "don't blink! It really DOES go by too fast!" posts that go along with it. It's not that I don't have moments where I feel exactly the same way. But "don't blink" is a sentiment that, for me, is often riddled with guilt and thoughts of coulda shoulda woulda. It's unfair to feel that way – unfair to me, and to the tiny humans.

I am here. For the important things, the semi-important things, and also the mind-numbingly mundane things. My kids will grow up knowing they were loved and well cared for.

But it has to be okay to blink. It has to be okay to take my eyes off of them. Time is going to pass, regardless. If I spend all eighteen of my years with them under my roof "not blinking", what happens to me? What happens to my marriage, my friendships, and me without them, when they are gone?

Blink. Look away. Then refocus. You will be amazed by what happened when you looked away, and what you're able to notice that's new because you blinked.

That Time I Learned About Stripping

(I wrote this post for Finish the Sentence Friday. This week's sentence is "One time, when I was bored out of my mind, I…")

I am pretty sure the terms "cabin fever" and "stir crazy" were invented in Northern New England during a winter like the one we are having. It has been snowing for months. And it just. Won't. Stop. I don't even check the weather anymore. That way, if the sunshine makes an appearance it is a really lovely surprise.
 
It is March. It is officially spring, says the calendar. A quick look outside affirms that we are actually stuck in some bizarre Groundhog Day in mid-January. Snow, ice, COLD. Repeat.
 
We have done snowmen, and snow angels, snow balls, sledding and snow shoeing ad nauseum. We are tired of hot chocolate. We hate snow pants, hats, mittens, boots – the whole thing. We want to go outside and play, and we'd prefer it if we could throw on just a light jacket to do so. We want to open the windows and air out the lingering winter cold germs without risking hypothermia.
 
To say we are bored would be an understatement. Which may or may not excuse what I did a month or so ago. It went a little something like this.
 
Me, on the phone with my best girlfriend: "I'm so bored. I need a change. I think I should cut my hair or dye it or something. Maybe I should dye it red." (My natural color is dark blonde, but it hasn't been without highlights since I turned fifteen. So – blonde hair to red.)
K, best girlfriend: "Ooooh, do it. I just dyed mine black. Don't be a weenie." (She actually said weenie, I am totally not making that up.)
Me: "Okay but I think I'm going to get a box dye. So Ry will know I'm committed to our New Year's budget resolution." 
K: "You can do this. Call me when you're at the store." 
 
I did it. I changed my blonde hair to red. But not quite the Marcia Cross red I was going for. More punk rock Manic Panic red. I group texted out a photo, and God love my girlfriends, they were supportive(ish). My kids insisted that I looked sort of like Merida and sort of like Ariel. My husband just shook his head and said, "that's going to wash out, right?", then"why would you try to do something like that yourself?"  
 
The longer the color was on, the worse it got. I sent an SOS to my friend Deanna, who is a hair stylist turned stay-at-home mom. She has saved me when I desperately needed highlights and again when A gave me lice. She is also the most stylish mama I know, so I do what she says. This time, she said "I can fix it, but you've got to strip it. You need to get as much of that color out as you can so I can correct it and get it back to normal."  
 
So I spent 24 hours with Google learning how to strip…my hair. Here's what I learned. You can strip almost anything out of your hair using any or all of the following methods:

blonde hair to red

  • Baking soda mixed with clarifying shampoo. I shampooed with this somewhere between 12 and 20 times. Not kidding.
  • Dish soap. 
  • Hot oil treatment. I used olive oil on the stove but Deanna says that avacado oil would have worked even better.
  • White vinegar. Something about restoring the ph level after the other stuff. 
At this point it was pink (photo, bottom right). I looked like Strawberry Shortcake. Deanna let me hijack her Sunday morning with her family (including her in-laws) and spent FIVE HOURS fixing my hair, reversing the process by which my blonde hair turned red. During which I was definitely not bored. Now I know:
 
  • Box Dye is Not for Beginners. Or for people who are trying to migrate to an entirely different color family. Or for women in their thirties who are bored and/or trying to prove a commitment to a budget.
  • I Am An Excellent Stripper. Of hair. In fact, because I was so maniacal efficient at getting most of the red out, we saved several hours of chemical stripper that Dea says smells like rotten garbage. 
  • Best Girlfriends are the BEST. I love K for talking me into taking a risk. I now know that I will try red again, with professional help from Deanna. I love Deanna for talking me off the ledge and getting me back to blonde. 
  • Dramatic Change is Not a Cure for Winter Boredom. Winter makes people do crazy things. Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining. 
  • There Are Better Ways to Budget. Like clipping coupons. Or less online shopping – I'm looking at you Zulily and Gap Friends and Family. Or eating out less. Just not dyeing blonde hair to red using a $10 box solution. 

Finish the Sentence Friday