Can any of you relate?
Or is it just me?
There's a big difference though. Those little girl's don't have me for their mommy. They have African American mommies who were raised doing hair a certain way and know all the right products and all the right techniques to try to do their child's hair. They have a routine perfected and their child's hair always looks great. It doesn't look dry. It doesn't look like their mom just perfected cornrowing. It doesn't look like their mom put too much lotion in it and caused dandruff or product buildup.
I realized tonight after washing, conditioning, blowdrying, greasing and then straightening Alivea's hair that my problem is my expectation. My expectation of myself and of Alivea. Alivea is not going to look like those little girls because she is my daughter and that is not a bad thing.
I also have to give myself some credit for the things I have learned over the past 5 years. Five years ago I had no idea what the L.O.C. method was. I had no idea that African Americans don't wash their hair every day. I had no idea what co-washing was. I definitely didn't know how to use hair grease or leave in conditioner or any of the other 50+ products I have tried over the past years. I had no use for knockers or beads or a sleep cap.
After I finished Alivea's hair tonight I felt it once again. The feeling of inadequacy. The feeling that even after a 2+ hour investment, Alivea's hair didn't look like the other little girls in her ballet class. I couldn't get it straight enough and I couldn't get it shiny enough. I heard myself voicing these things and I instantly felt like I needed to shut up!
I realized Alivea was hearing everything I was saying and I didn't want her to feel inadequate. I don't want her to compare herself. I don't want her to look at the other little girls in her class and think she is anything but perfect. She's not going to look like them and that's okay. I can't do hair like their mom and that's okay. I love Alivea and that is why I do her hair. I do it because I need to take care of it and because I like doing it. It's not easy and sometimes I cry. It takes a lot of time but I care about her and I care about her hair.
But more than I care about her hair I care about how she sees herself. I want her to know how I see her and I want her to base her feelings about herself on the truth, not just on what the mirror says about her. So, I have to start with me. I have to start with the words that come out of my mouth and the expression on my face.
Alivea, hear this. You are perfect just the way you are. Daddy and I love you. We don't love you for how you look or for how straight your hair is or even because you are a good girl. We love you because you are you. And that will always be enough.