Have you noticed that just before a woman has a baby, she chops all her hair off, then spends the next three years growing it out long enough to braid into a human hair ladder that can lower her child out of a burning building, Rapunzel-style?
I offer photographic evidence:
Exhibit A: Me and baby, two years ago, leaving the hospital -- note the short hair. (Also note my non-similarities to the ever-elegant Duchess of Cambridge. Kate: perfect. Me: screaming baby, old-lady sweater).
Exhibit B: Me and baby, two years and only two haircuts later.
Scheduling a haircut is never easy, but once you have a child, getting a haircut takes divine intervention, planetary alignment and a whopping dose of good luck. Here are 13 reasons why:
1. First, you have to call ahead. This requires having the wherewithal to think multiple thoughts in a row: I could sweep the floor with my hair. I guess I need a haircut. I should make an appointment today. Meanwhile, the baby cries; the potty-trainee tinkles on the floor. All hair-related thoughts fly from your head. Hours later, you vaguely remember: I was supposed to call someone today. Maybe the vet? About getting the dog groomed? (Meanwhile, the baby cries again; the potty-trainee shouts, "Me go potty now! Oops. I finished.")
2. When you re-remember about making the hair appointment, you have to find where your toddler has hidden your phone. This could take days.
3. Once you find your phone, you realize that you have to choose a new hairdresser, because it's been so long that your old stylist has either moved away or broken up with you because you've rescheduled too many times. Choosing a new hairdresser is no small thing. It's almost like getting married, only scarier and more expensive.
4. Then you have to find the phone number for the stylist your friend recommended. This number is not stored in your phone, of course -- it is on a business card that you've been carrying for two years, since the last time you thought about getting a haircut. Eventually, you find the card, coated in animal cracker crumbs at the bottom of your diaper bag, along with a fossilized banana, three melted crayons and 18 Legos.
5. You probably have to call the salon back five times. This is because the moment you find the phone and finish dialing, one of your children will get injured, or smother you with kisses or yodel loudly for no reason except that they sense your desire to leave them for an hour to do something for yourself.
6. When you call to make the appointment, you have to remember all the school, sports and social activities of every person in your household, and you also have to predict when one of your children will not be coming down with the flu. You should probably consult a fortune cookie or astrologist before making this decision.
7. Once you make the appointment, you have to remember to write it down. This is difficult, because the moment you hang up the phone, small people begin grabbing at you, begging for food. By the time the grabbing and clamoring subsides, you have forgotten the date and time of your appointment. So you have to go back to step three -- finding your phone and calling the salon.
8. Now comes the issue of childcare. You have to call a babysitter or beg a friend to have mercy on you. (This involves going back to steps three through six -- finding the phone, looking up the number, making the call.)
9. Oh, and finances. By this time, three months have passed, but you have successfully made an appointment and lined up childcare. You are in the middle of a victory dance when it occurs to you: Not only do you need to save enough money for the haircut and tip (and depending on the salon, you may also have to tip the hair washer, the hair blow-dryer, the hair flat-ironer and some guy standing in the lobby saying in a jaunty but probably fake French accent, "Welcome to Salon Chic and Très-Expensive"), but you also need to save money to pay the babysitter. You auction off your great aunt's wedding ring on eBay.
10. Don't get sick, kids! The week before Haircut Day, you put your house on lockdown and quarantine your children so no one will get sick. No one goes in, no one goes out.
11. Time to manage expectations. At last, the day before Haircut Day arrives. You check your children's temperatures all day, just to be sure no one is getting sick, because if you have to cancel, you need to do it 24 hours before the appointment. Cautiously, you whisper to yourself that this might actually happen. You might get to go. But you dare not speak the words aloud, lest the You-Counted-Your-Chickens-Before-They-Hatched Fairies hear you and seek revenge.
12. Then, the worst happens. The morning of Haircut Day arrives. Before you even get out of bed, someone is shouting, "Mommyyyyyyyyy! He's throwing up! In his bed! And in his hair!"
13. But it's too late to cancel. If you reschedule now, you'll still have to pay for the appointment. So you bribe your babysitter with overtime pay, a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant (you'll have to sell another heirloom) and a free gas mask. You slump out of the house to the sound of betrayal and heartbreak, and arrive 15 minutes late to your appointment. It's already been given to someone else, so you have to wait. So you sit in the lobby for an hour, reading magazines about famous people with nannies and personal hairstylists -- the most peaceful hour you've had in weeks. You drift off to sleep. The welcome-to-the-salon-fake-French guy feels sorry for you, and covers you with a blanket. When you wake up, you feel so refreshed that you give him a double tip.
At long last, you get your haircut. Feeling like a new woman, you float home, debating how long you can get away with not washing your hair so it will keep smelling like fancy salon products... two days? Three days? You've just decided on three days when you walk through your front door for a joyful reunion with your children. The baby reaches for you, squealing with delight, and smears banana into your hair. Still reveling in the I-took-a-break-from-Mommying afterglow, you do not cry -- you have grace to spare. You tell yourself that banana makes hair shiny, and you never liked New Haircut Smell, anyway. Besides, all is not lost. You'll experience New Haircut Smell again in two years.
A version of this post first appeared on the author's website, LizzyLife.