While I love my children more than I can express, I find parenting exhausting most days. I love being their mom, but I don’t always love mothering–the demands, the endless to-do list, and the small people up in my personal space all the time. But when my kids are on my last nerve and I think I can’t possibly stand one more day (or hour…or minute…) of parenting, I’ve discovered a trick that helps me look at my kids with fresh, more loving eyes: get them a haircut.
I know it sounds silly. What does a haircut have to do with anything?
But the truth is that when my kids get a haircut, something about them is just different enough that I look at them with fresh eyes, as though seeing them for the first time in a while.
Suddenly, I am reminded of the baby they once were and how quickly they are growing up. I am reminded that in both the good and bad parenting moments, one thing remains true: It won’t be this way forever.
I think back to my oldest son’s first haircut.
My husband kept saying, “I think he needs a haircut,” and I kept saying, “No, not yet.” I kept delaying the inevitable. Looking back at the photos, it’s laughable how badly he needed it. He was firmly in mullet territory (but in 2014, when mullets were not at all trendy) and looked a bit like a shaggy, scraggly puppy. But a first haircut seemed like a sign we were leaving babyhood behind, and I wasn’t ready for my firstborn to move into toddler territory.
Ultimately, we took him to a generic, run-of-the-mill shopping center haircut chain. I still have the thin paper envelope into which they placed that sandy brown lock of hair.
When he was done with his haircut, I felt this strange dissonance: Who was this boy in front of me? On the one hand, his “big boy haircut” was just that, making him look older and, somehow, more mature. But on the other hand, I also looked at him and could only see “my baby,” this little boy I brought into the world and had grown my heart beyond its earlier capacity for love.
So many years have passed since that first haircut, and a lot has changed. My three kids are all solidly out of babyhood; my youngest started kindergarten this year. They’ve had more haircuts than I can count, and none of them are particularly memorable anymore…but my reaction is the same every time.
When I look at my kiddos with a brand-new haircut, I am struck all over again by how much I love these kids, how cute I think they are, and what a privilege it is to be their mom. Their sparkly blue eyes and cute cheeks stand out more; their smiles seem more vibrant. It makes me want to scroll through old pictures and snuggle them on the couch for hours.
As moms–who are often overworked, overtired, and overstimulated–we should savor any and every opportunity to remember why it’s all worth it. To this day, getting my kids a haircut is a surefire way to remind me how much I genuinely love them, and that nothing will stay the same forever.
So, that’s my best mom hack: When you’re tired of mothering and on the edge of burnout, maybe get them a haircut.