Now we are 5 days away from the shave event, and she has not wavered once. At least not out loud, or in front of me. Her conviction is strong, her ideals are overwhelming, and her passion is that which only teenage girls have.
But, until the other night, when talking to my dearest childhood friend, I had not thought about how I felt about it. Other than knowing without a doubt that I could never do it, I have only really felt fierce pride in my girl. But now it's stuck in my head, all the feelings that I have not even thought about. My baby girl is going to be BALD. BALD. A part of me cringes at the thought of my very pretty daughter not having hair- I mean, isn't hair one of the ways how we females define ourselves. If we have a bad hair day, it really puts a damper on the rest of our day. If we get a bad cut or color, it really upsets us. Unfortunately, we live in a society that bases everything on how we look. If we are overweight we must be a slob. If we choose not to wear makeup we must be a hippie. If we do something out of the ordinary to our hair (like when Teenzilla went shocking pink) there are stares and judgmental asshats to contend with. And being a teenager?? In high school? Fuggedaboutit.
I have been told "I can't believe you are LETTING her shave her head. she is going to be teased so badly" Letting her?? No- this is HER decision. This is not some whim of a fickle teen girl- this is for an amazing cause, something bigger than she is. It takes guts and heart to do what she is going to do. It's amazing, it's life changing, and not only am I "letting" her do it, I am her loudest supporter! But there is the part of me that is scared for her, and worries about any teasing or bullshit she will have to endure. She is a strong kid, a good kid, but I don't know if she has, or if she is even able to really process what going bald means. Aside from the amazing sense of doing something awesome that is. I don't pull any punches- I have told her repeatedly, people are going to stare. People will make comments, and not all of them will be nice. She says "Bring it on". I hope that attitude stays intact- she's gonna need it. I am very nervous about the reactions, and most of all, how my girl will handle it. It's gonna be hard. Oh- and did I mention she is also in the schools Spring production of Cinderella? Yeah- she is going to be in the spotlight- shiny bald head and all. Well- she will wear a wig...but still!
I have caught myself reminiscing about her hair when she was little, long, curly and beautiful. She cut it off in first grade for Locks of Love, and I cried. Not in front of her, and I cried not only because she cut off all her hair, but because even at the tender age of 6, she had a big heart. And....she wanted to have a haircut like Dora the Explorer! I have always been the mom who encourages trying different things, from wardrobe to hair. Especially hair, after all, it does grow back. And I can't say I have loved every hair decision she has made, but I raised her this way- and she is her own person- and a damn good one at that. I get compliments all the time, what a great kid I have, and what a great mom I am, having raised such a great kid. And I will take credit for raising her to be the way she is, but she deserves the lion's share- she is not a little girl, she is a beautiful, funny, smart young woman who made this choice all on her own.
Today, I had a comment on my FB page- and I just have to share:
A year ago Jan, I had to shave all my hair off for a brain surgery. My hair was to my boohiney, I braided it, cut those 5 thick, long braids off & donated them as well...as the clippers inched their way over my scalp, I felt a new me emerge! At first it felt like my identity was being stripped from my grasps, I felt naked, vulnerable & honestly, a little lost! I think it was harder on my best friends than it was for me! Then a saying came to mind as tears were streaming down my face "If you don't like something...Change it...if you can't change it...Change the way you think about it!" That's what I did, changed how I thought about it! I began to think of the process of the wigs being made, the ladies that would receive them (I had THICK, long hair so def made at least 2 wigs! ), how it would effect their lives forever & suddenly I had peace! Sure people stared at me where ever I went, women (most of them!) were THE worst & the men were surprisingly wonderful! I received A LOT of compliments & support! Im not sure why Teenzilla is shaving her hair, sounds like its just for donating it & that is plain AMAZING!! I want to thank you, as her parents, for raising such an AMAZING daughter!! Thank you! As I would tell myself, its just hair & it grows back! It did in fact change me, it strips you down to your core & thankfully I had been working on myself in order to become my best self before having to be naked, vulnerable & bald in front of the world, I was taught to be comfortable with WHO I am not the identity of my long, thick hair! Bald ROCKS!! Rock it out Teenzilla!! I will be bald agn soon, another brain surgery, you what tho! I GOT THIS & BRING IT ON!! P. S. she will be really cold, a friend made me the best beanie ever & it became my favorite accessory! Go beanie shopping before or make one with one of those knitting looms (WalMart $13) and she can pick her color of yarn! Rock it out Momma & Teenzilla! YOU got this & BRING IT ON! Much Love! -Nicole Johnson
While she is not donating her hair, the money she has raised, that all goes back to St. Baldrick's and the solidarity for those who don't have the choice to go bald or not- it's mind boggling to me.
And once again, I have to thank the indomitable Mary Tyler Mom for sharing her beautiful Donna's story with us. The sad reality that is childhood cancer, and the lives taken much too soon has a face, a name, a story, and is not just another sad statistic for us. It's amazing how one family's story changed our perception in such a huge way.
Please check out the links here, about St. Baldrick's, about Teenzilla and share!
I'm shaving my head!
Rylee's Donation Page
Michigan's Team Donna's Good Things