I have three daughters, ages 6, 4, and 2. One afternoon – a particularly LONG afternoon – I grabbed a hair tie and threw my hair up in a messy bun. I sighed audibly and did the next thing.
My six year old watched me do my hair and casually said, “Mom, that’s your mad hair.”
You know what’s not helpful? Hearing someone say you’re mad when you kind of are. It’s like when my little sister used to ask if I was in a bad mood. IF YOU HAVE TO ASK…
But her “mad hair” statement made me pause. I actually laughed a little and asked what she meant. She confirmed that she was implying that when I got frustrated, I put my hair up.
I told my husband about it later, and he giggled too, then said, “Well…it’s kind of true.”
So now I feel like I can’t every wear my hair up without everyone thing I’m mad, and that kind of…makes me mad.
Because I reacted in laughter and asked more questions that first time, she makes sure to point out my “mad hair” anytime I put my hair up now. And I’m aware of it too! Am I mad right now, or just hot? Am I coming to the end of my patience, or has it just been a day too long between showers? It’s helped me be a little more self-aware, which is good because when I am mad and frustrated, putting my hair up now makes me stop and breathe.
That interchange with my daughter opened the door for a new kind of conversation with her. I was able to talk about when and why I get frustrated, taking it from this kind of intangible, unpredictable thing to a place where she understands that sometimes my hair (and mood) are influenced by things like being tired after being up with her baby sister in the night, or that it’s draining to have to stop squabbles, or even that I had to stay up late working.
Those conversations are mutually beneficial. Because as I let her in to some of the reasons I may be frustrated, which may or may not have to do with her, I have to follow the train of thought through. I found myself diving a little deeper with her.
“I sometimes get frustrated…but with Christ’s help I don’t have to act on those feelings. Because when I remember that he loves me even though I ask for the same thing over and over, or act like he hasn’t given me enough, or fuss about being uncomfortable, I find new energy. He loves me with a sacrificial love, deep and unending. And that gives me strength to love, out of the overflow of a heart that is full of gratitude.”
In other words, my mad hair has given me a chance to talk to my daughter about loving because he first loved us.
I still wear my hair in a bun, but I think about it every single time now. And instead of it being an external cue to steer clear of mama, it’s become an internal reminder that I can love through hard things because I am so very loved already.
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19