The Long and the Short of It

Hair Cutting Scissors
Image via Wikipedia
Women seem to identify themselves by their hairstyle. Or, in my case, complete lack of style. I’ve had the same boring, long, brown, thick-as-a-rat’s-nest hair for my entire life. Well, aside from the late 70s, when my mom sent me out into the big bad world looking like a cross between Dorothy Hamill and Justin Bieber on a bad hair day. Not sure I ever recovered from that one.

Which is one huge reason I feel more secure with long hair. Or did. I chopped it all off, seven plus inches, just last month. After the 10 plus pounds of hair was removed from my head, the hairdresser felt compelled to hold up the dustpan, the mountain of frizz spilling over the sides, and yell “Look at all that hair, Darla! GONE!”

Yeah, I miss it. My hair was like my cozy security blanket. Something to hide behind. Or maybe just to keep me warm in these brutal Maine winters. Granted, about 99% of the time it was pulled back into a frumpy ponytail…but it was there when I needed it.

Now I instinctively reach back there and grab nothing but air. I look in the mirror and I see the “Mommy cut” glaring back at me, snickering and taunting, “Nah-nah naaaah, nah-naaah nah! Face it, you’re turning into your mom! Soon your style will be nothing more than short perms and bifocals.”

Am I giving up by caving into the Mommy Cut? Having short hair does cut down on maintenance and all the money spent on shampoo and conditioner. There is a freedom there that the lazy side of me absolutely adores. Now I can actually wake up, get outta bed and drag a comb across my head (love that song) and be done with it.

Or am I just being realistic? I am a Mommy after all. I drive a minivan (sadly, no Swagger Wagon for me, but a Loser Cruiser) and I happily go to bed at 9:30 pm. I’m at the point where I’m almost able to embrace those deep wrinkles and stray gray hairs that seem to be multiplying about as fast as the Duggar family. Maybe this haircut is me trying to prove to the world, (and admit to myself) that yes, I am middle aged, dammit! I can’t hide it anymore.

But do I want to feel middle aged just yet? Well, I do want a fresh start. There’s something about turning forty that makes me want to start over with a new chapter in my life, a new me. Shed the old me along with the hair. When I had my hair cut, it felt like I was saying to the world, I don’t give a crap, it’s time for me now! Me, me, me! The brand-new, take-charge, totally out-there “me”!

Sigh. No worries….as everyone tells me, it’ll always grow back. Whew! Thank goodness for that. Us middle-aged moms like to keep our options open. Maybe next year, the Pixie cut?

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108 thoughts on “The Long and the Short of It

  1. Aww, your post is so cute! If you’re worried about the mom-cut (I wouldn’t be if I were you!), keep in mind that here in bloggoworld, your energy and quick sense of humor are what count! Keep it up!

  2. My wonderful wife came home one day last year with her hair cut from shoulder length to just over a buzz cut. “I hope you like it.”

    Having said that, I usually applaud this move in my friends. It’s like a rite of passage.
    Ryan

    PS – Came by this post via Freshly Pressed.

  3. … and is there an after pic? I just did the same thing about 3 weeks ago and was going to post. (May still …) but you had most of my points down. 🙂

    You feel like a completely different person, yes? Naked and cold and …. a different version of ‘you’.

  4. I know precisely what haircut you got in the 70’s 🙂

    Short hair is chic – put on a great pair of earrings and enjoy the freedom that comes with quick styling!

  5. My one brush with short hair came at the tender age of 5. That very evening, a foodserver asked if the “boys” at are table wanted something to drink.

    Thus ensued my lifetime of therapy issues — and it’s been long hair for me ever since!

    Nice post. Embrace the mommy … we’re lucky to have little munchkins, even if we have to sacrifice some things…

    🙂

  6. I hear ye, sista !
    I have changed my hairstyles constantly over the years! And then I snipped it all off once again when I turned forty… the mom-cut….because I was so confident nothing was gonna change for me… But then something did happen and I suddenly felt 50 ..so I started growing it again…. And now that it is long again (yep, it’s true – couple of months and you are back with a ponytail), I think the shorter hair was nicer… oh..it is neverending !!
    But it is traumatic to cut long hair short – even if you have done it a lot, like me.
    So – if you have not done it all your life – GOOD for you !!!
    A change is as good as a holiday -even if you need one again as soon as you get home.!
    Enjoy your short hair for now.

    1. I can feel myself slowly wanting to have long hair again. I’m sure in a few years it’ll be back to the shaggy mess it once was, but that’s okay too. I will enjoy this new ‘do for the time being.

  7. I have the same fight with myself about shoes every day. I’m a dog-owner and I spend my life walking, so I wear my hikers day in and day out. I try to tell myself that I should fight this instinct and wear nice shoes, but they just don’t compare with ther hikers, I do feel like I’m giving in, but I have to be practical and comfortable.

    congrats on the new do

  8. I am not sure what ‘mom’ hair is because I have long hair as well. I always thought that was the easiest of all hair styles because I can put it in a ponytail. However, I am looking for a new style that includes long bangs since that is supposed to trick people into thinking you are younger than you are.
    Great post and congrats on being freshly press.

  9. Fresh starts — I’m a huge fan! And no better time to do it than when you hit 40. Maybe a change in hair style could be part of a bigger-picture change, something your inner dreamer has longed to do but had neither the courage nor excuse until now. As someone who hit 40 recently, I can attest to the value of this sort of thinking–certainly makes the days a little brighter…
    – Mike Raven
    http://survivingcorporate.wordpress.com

  10. Sunflowerdiva says:

    I like long hair because it’s so sexy and feminine, but short hair is cute and easy. I keep my hair a bit below shoulder length, cause I have need to pull it up into a bun when I dance. Otherwise, if I didn’t dance, I’d get a bob and get bangs again! This post was really cute! Don’t worry so much about your hair–it always grows back. And congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

    1. Yeah, I don’t know why I’ve always felt long hair felt more feminine or sexy. I’m finding that shorter hair can be too now that I’m slowly getting used to it. I can see why some women go all the way and get a pixie cut.

  11. Finding a good salon is one key to being happy with your hair. I am growing mine another two inches. It takes about two months. I wish I could wear it in a pony tail. It would take four months to have it long enough. Longer is easier to handle, and sometimes neater. It is just as much trouble to wash and to set. Smile.

    1. True, I had my hair cut around shoulder length earlier this year and really hated it once I got home and had to style it myself. This time, I had an excellent hairdresser who actually listened to me and did what I wanted. Very short in back, longer in front and please make it easy to style.

  12. ryoko861 says:

    It’s ok to have long hair. I’m approaching 50. My hair is long. I’ll never cut it. It has an age appropriate style to it.

    As everyone keeps telling you, it’ll grow back.

    I learned my lesson back in the late 80’s when perms were in. I used to DREAM that I had my long hair back. NEVER AGAIN did I do that.

    1. I draw the line at perms too. I had one in the 80s and have no clue why as my hair already had a poodle texture to it. I agree with you that long hair is okay at any age. I can see mine growing back out and getting long again as I near 50. As long as a person is happy with it, who cares what the rest of the world thinks?

  13. My wife had shoulder length hair when we met. It’s half-way down her back now. I cringe at the thought of her trimming it, though I know she just wants the dead-ends removed. I would not at all like her with very short hair – which she has had in the past – and I think she’s gotten past that period too.

    I had long hair myself years ago. Figured that while I had the opportunity, might as well try. It was just past my shoulder blades. Eventually I grew tired of it, and the realization that genetic hair loss was beginning to creep in made the thought of continuing to keep my hair long, ridiculous. There is something absurd about long haired men with a balding head, or worse, balding men with huge comb-overs. For the last 10 years I’ve kept my hair short, buzzing it myself.

    Now the discussion between my wife and myself is gray hair. We like each other’s graying hair, but she doesn’t like it in her own hair. She has stated vociferously that when our babies are born, she’ll be dying her hair soon afterward. I don’t like dyed hair, but I can deal with that a lot better than boy-hair on a woman. Besides, she puts up with my beard… but she likes the way I look whether I’m clean-shaven or a wooly bushman.

    1. I think if my husband were to give an honest answer, he’d say he prefers long hair on me as well. And if I were honest, I prefer it when he has some hair on that noggin of his, receeding or not. He currently has a buzz cut. He figures why delay the inevitable.

      Gray hairs are another thing we talk about. He’s got the salt-n-pepper thing going on…mostly salt after 10 years of marriage and two kids. He’s fine with his gray. I have a few stray grays sticking out and have yet to do anything about it yet. I like to think I wouldn’t dye my hair to cover grays but who knows…

      1. My husband frets about his greying hair. (He’s just turned 31 this year, but it’s already over halfway grey–whereas I am thankfully not seeing them yet, a miracle considering I’ve been through a lot more stress than he has!) He’s also really concerned about his hairline–like your husband, he says that if he loses his hair, he’s just going to shave it all off in order to hasten the inevitable.

      2. The thing is, I gave up really caring about what others thought about how I look when I graduated high school – after realizing it didn’t matter. And, I came to embrace what my hair would become. I looked at both my parents and my family and knew very early on that I’d be bald and at the same time have my mother’s hair coloring – which meant graying earlier. My hair started to significantly recede around the same time I noticed my first couple of gray hairs in my late twenties. I often hate to scalp myself because I’m almost vain about showing off my gray! lol What a silly thing to be prideful about.

        I do understand my wife’s fretting about gray hairs though. Still in her early thirties, she’s not ready to “feel” or “look” “old”. And gray hairs typically are more coarse and wispy.

        Others have commented on this I think, but I highly recommend donating your hair next time. My wife has donated her hair once or twice and I have a friend who has done similarly – I was weird when I chopped my hair off and kept it (braided in a box for “posterity”).

        As far as opinions between my wife and I, we try very hard to be honest with each other. We realize that we each have things we like or dislike that the other person doesn’t share. That said, we also believe that our bodies are no longer fully our own. We belong to each other, we are “one”. We willingly make compromises on some areas and things, especially if it doesn’t matter. But if it does, we won’t hold back, because that can just turn into a festering sore, ya know? Don’t be afraid to tell your husband you like his hair a little fuller.

        And as an aside, some of these comments I’ve read of people “training” their spouses… even if they’re in jest; that doesn’t sit well with me. If a spouse goes into a relationship and marraige thinking they can train and change their partner, they’re setting up a potential problem. And if the same spouse cannot get past the little things in life that really don’t matter, they’re setting up another potential problem. Same thing goes for not taking your spouse into consideration when you do something, especially drastic like cutting your hair heavily. Two are one. Do too many things on your own and you’re acting like you’re not married but still single.

  14. While I haven’t reached the mom stage yet (newly married and not sure we’re ready to raise a child yet … cats are enough right now), I do totally understand your connection to your hair.

    When I was a teen I had hair down to my waist. I never wanted to cut it. It was perfectly straight and perfectly blonde. I loved it. Then, I decided I wanted to be a redhead and tried a home dye kit. Not such a bright idea — some might even call it a blonde moment.

    Because the dye job was so horrible, I had to have my hair stripped and cut to just above my elbows in the process (I’d fried the ends). In one swift chop my security blanket was gone. It was a tramatizing event and something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I thought my hair was who I was — I thought my hair made me.

    When I got engaged everyone asked me the same thing: Are you going to grow your hair? Are you going to let it get long so you can do anything with it? And I got tired of this stereotype and a bit annoyed that my hair was such an important part of my wedding day.

    A few weeks before my wedding I chopped my hair off up to my chin — much to everyone’s horror.

    I loved the haircut and it’s the shortest I’ve ever gone. I felt like I was taking the next step as an individual with my haircut, proving I was confident enough in myself to embark on the journey of marriage.

    It all seems quite philosophical and deep to be just about hair, but I just wanted to share to let you know that I understand!!! It does grow back, but there’s something “special” about a woman’s hair.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Drive on,
    – M.

    1. There is something special about it. It seems like a trivial subject, but when you’ve spent most of your life with long hair, it starts to define you. Cutting it off feels like you’re thumbing your nose at the world.
      What an interesting story about your wedding. I bet you felt much more confident and ready for the next stage of your life. It is amazing how people react to a short cut. My mom loves my new do (she’s always wanted that Dorothy Hamill look on me, and she herself has super short permed hair) but I had a few friends tell me not to cut it. Funny how we all become so attached to hair on ourselves and others.

  15. I wish I were as courageous as you. I haven’t cut my hair short since I was 12 years old.. I’m sure we’ve all been traumatized by an unattractive, shapeless crop at some point or another;^) congrats on the new do!

    1. Thanks! I felt the “like what the hell?” kind of attitude. I have to admit, after I saw the mountain of hair on the floor I had a tiny twinge of regret “what did I just do??!!” But then my husband and kids approved so I slowly came around to it.

    2. Lydia says:

      That’s what happened to me! I had this wonderfully curly, short hair until I was twelve, and I absolutely loved it. And then it went frizzy (instead of lying down flat on my forehead, my bangs decided to stick vertically up from my head. It was weird) and so I decided to grow it, which somewhat stopped the frizz. But then I’m studying a lot at the moment, and I don’t really have time to wash and dry it properly, so I’m thinking of cutting it again… beware the frizz-monster!

  16. planejaner says:

    Sweet post–and well I know the Mommy Cut! I had one several years ago, when the kidlins were little…and I HAD no time!
    Now? Well, 43 and certainly well-cemented in middle-age…I have grown it back out! Yes–most days it’s up or back…but, when my husband and I get a date night? I feel just like Marilyn Monroe (had she lived, that is…)
    congrats on being freshly pressed!
    blessing
    Jane

    1. Thanks! Good point, once my kids are older and I have slighter more time than a few seconds in the morning to get ready, I might go happily back to long hair! I will wanna feel like Marilyn Monroe again.

  17. Jule1 says:

    There are some very chic short haircuts! You may have to get a few cuts to settle into a style that is extremely flattering for you, unless your stylist is a genius, but I think most of the time shorter hair looks better — it’s often much healthier — and more flattering to the face. Long hair tends to pull your face down and if you mostly wear it in a ponytail, that’s not usually the best look.

    Bravo to you for being brave enough to make a change. I bet once you get used to it you’ll like it a lot.

  18. I’m 52 years old. My kids are 33 and 28. I’m not growing old gracefully. I’ve never done anything gracefully, so why grow old that way? 🙂

    I have hair to the middle of my back. I get monthly facial, chemical peels, and Retinol, and my skin looks 35 years old. I go to Zumba classes and yoga. I date and party like a college student…oh wait…I am a full-time college student.

    You really are only as old as you feel. I’m having my second childhood, and it’s fabulous. Don’t give in to the old lady thing. You’re too young for that.

  19. On average, I prefer long hair in a women, but there is no reason at all why short hair should be “mommy”, unattractive, or a mere convenience decision: A well-done cut can be very pleasing to the eye—even if short.

    1. I agree. Well-done is the key to any hairstyle. Short definitely doesn’t have to be pegged as “mommy” or negative. I think of Halle Berry and well, she certainly doesn’t give off any kind of unattractive aura.

    1. After reading that link, I wish sometimes I was a man and could just skate by with a buzz cut and some 5 o’clock shadow and no one would give a crap how I look or what my style is “saying to the world” about their personality or age…or sexuality etc.

  20. I completely agree with you on the whole having long hair is like a security blanket.Iv always had extremely long going past my bum hair and only recently cut it a bit shorter but it is still long.i guess i never really thought about cutting my hair so short that i wouldnt be able to run my fingers through it anymore,it never crossed my mind.awesome blog,loving it:)

    1. Thank you. I am constantly running my hands back there over my neck and I reach up to make sure I still have some hair there. Then I pull down on it like that will help. It’s chin length in the front and even shorter in the back. I can’t put it into a ponytail at all (I actually tried, how sad)

    1. Ugh! You understand! Yes, “maddening” is the perfect word. I get out of the shower and suddenly my hair has exploded into a big frizzy nightmare. My hairdresser told me to invest in a good flat iron. Too bad I couldn’t invest in an extra 30 minutes in the morning to actually use the damned thing. Instead I bought some good but cheap straightening gel. It actually tames the frizz! My hair looks good for a change. And there’s so much less hair to mess with…

  21. Oh lord, you hit a nerve with this post of yours :”( I mean, what do we do with our hair?? My hair is quite straight and long (read extremely limpy, dead and boooring). And I am forever sporting a greasy head with hair pulled back in a bun or a pony. I don’t bother with anything at all..why should I set myself for yet another failure?? expensive shampoos/conditioners/leave-in-stuff..all make false promises 😦 If you notice, most of these products are dependent on two important things *time* and *effort*. I can’t provide either..we simply need a magic potion..drizzle over our hair and *tada* out goes the frizz for good 🙂
    sigh..

    1. I know, if only there was a magic fix. Or a few extra hours in the morning. I think part of the reason I chopped so much off was I would have less frizz to fight with (see before picture of me at top of blog…my hair is so heavy and frizzy, I can barely hold my poor head up)

    2. Being someone with VERY straight and fine hair, I will tell you it’s only in the past year I learned to a) add light amount of mouse or gel and b) get some fringing cut around your face. Even if you don’t spend much time on it after washing, these two things will allow some volume by your face and that’s really where people are looking anyway.

  22. Congrats on FP!

    I think anytime a woman cuts her long hair, it’s a little traumatic. I’ve worn my hair both short and long, and I like wearing my hair short–but there’s always that little clutching at my heart to see the shorn hair lying on the floor. Not to mention the painful process of growing it back out…..

  23. Mystic says:

    I cut my own hair and short, this way I get it how I want it. Something in me wants long hair like in childhood, but if it grows into that direction I’ll cut! I understand the long-hair-feel-safe-feeling of yours, since I experienced in childhood safty from long hair. 40 is no age hey, I am 50 and I feel daily younger. But this was different with 42. I like to see your hair-cut as the step to get the best out of yourself – if not NOW – when? The best is yet to come and you did what YOU wanted, thats great!

  24. Short hair needn’t be a mommy cut! If you haven’t got the time to deal with long hair, I’m betting the short hair looks neater, and therefore less Mommy-ish than the long did. Play with easy styles, and I’m sure you’ll adjust 🙂

  25. Enjoy, and if you don’t like it, start growing. Being over 40, and having gone with the short hair, I am now “just past shoulder length” and loving it. Or you can grow bangs / cut bangs, it’s fun to change it up. No matter what, go buy a great pair of earrings to celebrate your new style.

    Congratulations on being pressed!

  26. everythingneat says:

    Congratulations on being featured on Freshly Pressed!

    I grew up in a family with two sisters and my Mom stressed the serious importance of having our hair perfectly coiffed. I rebelled when I was 21 and have never looked back. I wear my hair to please myself and I haven’t thought about that freedom for years. Thanks for the reminder that we can each be unique; long hair or short, straight or curly, colored or just as mother nature intended.
    Mommy hair is so much easier to keep and it’s a real time-saver when you have young children. Hope you’re enjoying it.

    1. Thank you. It is a huge time saver. My showers are shorter (granted the kids still manage to bang on the door once or twice…) and most days I do nothing to it. Just run a brush through and BAM I am outta there!

  27. Devyn says:

    i loved reading this blog. your style of writing is just magnificent. i think that you shouldnt be worried at all about your haircut a change can be a good thing. im sure weve all had worse and more embarrasing haircuts that what you call a “mummy cut’

    1. Oh, no, not a loser at all…if I could cut my own hair I’d be thrilled! I tried cutting my daughter’s bangs once (while she was sleeping) and went way too short. Poor kid. Should of just put a bowl on her head as a guide.

    1. I have a friend who has donated her hair twice to Locks of Love. I will make sure the next time I grow it out, I grow it out enough so I can donate it! 🙂 Just checked their website and you need to donate at least 10 inches. I also didn’t know you can donate colored hair. This is good to know as mine has been colored so much over the years. Shouldn’t let all that hair go to waste.

  28. A friend of mine with long hair recently posted this NY Times article (you can easily gain access by creating a free account, if you don’t have one).

    I got an unfortunate “mom” cut when my first son was about 18 mos. I tried to like it, but never could. It took me another 18 mos. to grow it back out. Now I know not to let go of the hair too quickly again! I’m just not ready for it.

  29. If your kids are anything like me, it doesn’t matter what your hair looks like…..YOUR MOM! No matter what my mom looks like, she is always there for me, loves me, takes care of me, supports me, and helps me. You don’t have to have a mom haircut to be the best mom, I am sure your kids just want you to be happy about your hair. I always tell my mom she is beautiful and it makes her happy. Good luck! Hunter71 http://www.hcrproducts.com

  30. amandasperspective says:

    I love this post. It’s so well written and ties together such a great theme of hair style and age and self-realization. Congrats on “coming out” to motherhood and your true age. 🙂

  31. I also recently cut my hair short after having always had long hair. I don’t think cutting your hair is about age – I am in my 20s and just wanted a change. Now it feels lighter and it gives me a feeling of freedom. I also think it makes me look more professional and ‘grown up’ which is useful at work.

    When I went to my hairdresser, she literally interrogated me to find out whether I was certain about chopping it off so much: she knew it meant something relevant had happened in my life!!! And she was so right!! I found this extremely helpful in a time in life when I wanted to move on from the past and see a ‘new me’, but I can’t deny missing my long hair especially when I want an evening hair do up. But, as you said, hair always grows back! 😛

    Congratulations on featuring on Freshly Pressed!

    1. Thank you! It does often signal something relevant going on….I went to the hairdresser thinking I would just get the usual 2 inch trim. But something struck me as I sat there in the chair. I suddenly felt like, ah what the hell! go for it, get more cut, it’ll feel good to get rid of that extra weight! (on my head and in my life!)

    1. Thank you! I posted a pic at the end of the blog. It’s much shorter in the back, goes just under my chin in front and tapers from the height of my ears down into layers. She also used a razor to cut it and thinned it out a little. I think it really helped.

  32. I’m turning 40 too, not a mum, but I could relate to your post in so many ways….especially the bit about the wrinkles, white hair and the “it’s time for me now”. You look half your age though 🙂 Happy Birthday

  33. Settle in and enjoy – and don’t have a Mommy helmet. I had very long hair and after my second child was born, I asked a blunt friend if I looked like Loretta Lynn; she said “yes: and the next day I cut it into a pixie. Not because she said that, she was confirming my thoughts; long hair, at certain ages, can look very country-western. Just sayin.

  34. I LOVE chopping all of my hair off. I go through a little game with myself: I let it grow as long as I can stand it (usually I don’t get very far; I start loathing it once it reaches my shoulder blades) and then I chop it all off (usually by myself in my kitchen; there’s something so invigorating about taking matters into your own hands!) without a moment’s notice. The look on all my friends’ faces the next day is always priceless.

    Then about four months later I start wishing I had long ‘pretty’ hair again. Ah. C’est la vie.

    Short hair is amazing, girl! And you’re really rocking it, might I add. Go forth and be a sexy mom!

  35. Nice post! I grew my hair long again a few years ago and despite the added maintenance I am pretty happy with it. I don’t want to cut it because it does take some time to grow back. I live in the present, but there is an “old hippy” aspect to this that I really, really get a kick out of! lol.

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