Mother’s Day Letters: Barbara, Maya, and Talia

Dear Mom,

There was a little girl,

who had a little curl,

right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

she was very very good,

and when she was bad she was horrid.

Yep, that was me, the little girl with the curls. A wild untamed head of hair. I remember you reciting that poem and thinking it was about me. You would tell me about your own curls as a child and how your father constantly handed you a comb, telling you to go make yourself more presentable.

My curls didn’t really bother me until that haircut in seventh grade (we won’t mention by whom). The diagonal band of bangs across my forehead, captured in my school picture, led to the first of my battles with my curls.

I learned how to wrap my hair, iron my hair, blow dry my hair, and had many a sleepless night on orange juice can curlers. These tedious exercises worked and my hair was soft and silky–unless it rained or the fog rolled in – which was practically daily in Oakland Hills.

When I was 18 on a year abroad, I had a romantic interlude post-shower (I’m old enough to confess that) and didn’t have a chance to tend to my hair as it dried. I clearly remember my boyfriend commenting on how good it looked.

Hmmmm, maybe I should let it go natural.

The mystery was that it only looked good for ¼ of the day. I tried haircut after haircut, product after product, but couldn’t figure it out.

Years later, I read an article in the New York Times about a new curly girl salon which posed the question, “Do you cry after every haircut?” Well, yes, I do.

I headed down to Devachan Salon for an appointment with the curl guru, Carlos, and told him that I had lost my curl after bearing 3 children. After washing it he announced, “Girl, your curl is going to bounce right back!” And it did! Since that day I have learned to care for my curls and haven’t straightened my hair once. I can go out in the rain, can be active, and the bounce is there, no frizz.

I remember the day you went natural – your hair falling out post-chemical treatment. After wearing the headpiece until it grew back, you let the salt and pepper curls form a crown around your head. They’ve progressed to a glimmering silver. Along with your natural hair came a more relaxed outlook on the world.  It felt good to see you loosen up, raising us six “feral” children on your own had sometimes made you quite tense.

And now we can both be proud of Talia who is a curl ambassador. She figured out how to manage her curls at a much younger age than we two. Yes, we’re all grown girls with heads full of curls … and I’m grateful for my inheritance.

Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day,