Mom Dilemma: My Short Hair Reminds My Daughter Of When I Had Cancer

Photo: Ashley Hackshaw
My Short Hair Reminds My Daughter Of Having Cancer

Last week, I told my daughter, Boo, I would be at her end of the year party. She asked me not to.

Then she said, "But Daddy can go." Insert a knife to the heart.

When I asked her why she didn't want me to go, she said, "Because of your short hair."

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Me: Why does it matter that I have short hair?

Boo: Because the kids ask, "Why does your mom have short hair?"

Me: And what do you tell them?

Boo: Because she had cancer.

She thought my hair was still short because of having cancer — as if it didn't grow anymore.

I told her that my hair is short now because I choose to keep it that way.

And then we came up with a handful of answers she could use instead:

"Maybe the same reason you have short hair?"

"Because she's lazy."

"Oh, her? No idea who she is."

But seriously, when I thought about it, the truth is that I'm lazy about hair. I don't want to spend time doing my hair. I can get ready in 5 minutes flat and no hairdryer needed, ever.

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Yes, sometimes I do wish I had my long, flowing locks, but I'm not sure I'm ready to give up the freedom I have with my short haircut.

And I realized that there are things my daughter will forever attach to cancer, like the loss of my hair. She doesn't remember the hospitals, or the surgeries, or anything else — but she remembers my hair. And so I'm torn about keeping it short, just for that reason.

Photo: Author

Then I realized, along with the hair, that I'd also never really fully recovered physically.

So, last week I took a big step and signed up for Crossfit. And I signed my husband, Brett, up, too, because we can go together first thing in the morning. And we already know 95 percent of the people there, because it’s a very small town.

Yes, it's a little intimidating but I'll make up my own rules like I always do. The sign that said "no water breaks" on the wall? I broke that rule 5 minutes in.

I think it's going to be really fun... except for snatches. I definitely won't do a lot of snatches. I'll be taking water breaks during snatch time. Yeah, you can't make me; I'll throw a silent tantrum.

(Plus, I can't stop laughing at the word snatch, just like I can't stop giggling when someone says the word beaver. I had to say the word penis the other day at the vet and I almost choked trying to hold the laughter in.)

Maybe one day I'll mature. And maybe I'll grow my hair back out. And maybe I'll be able to climb up a flight of stairs without being winded.

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Ashley Hackshaw is a writer, artist, and historian. Visit her website for more.