*Not a reference to an episiotomy. Don’t worry, you can read on now. The way ahead is clear.
Three weeks after my son was born, I squeezed into a brand new American Apparel bodycon dress, extra-small size. It fitted. The victory had been won. Normal service was resumed, I was back in American Apparel apparel (if that’s a thing) and as the Daily Mail might have put it, I had snapped back into shape and was flaunting my “baby body.”
At least, that’s how I imagined it. A few hours later I was limping home, clutching my abdomen and on the phone to the doctor’s surgery because my C-section scar was bleeding, probably due to the chafing from the dress. Lesson learned: never rush getting back to normal.
In time, I have come to accept that I never will be back to normal. Instead, there is a new normal, one that consists of being asked by the landlady of the local pub if I am pregnant again approximately every other time I go in due to my slightly wobbly tummy-a legacy not only of pregnancy and childbirth, but also of the enduring love for chocolate I have been cultivating over the past few years whilst using breastfeeding as a handy excuse. One that involves wearing wellington boots as a fashion statement on the basis that they are practical and anyway it rained a lot this winter, and one that, until now, involved desperately trying to hang onto the last vestiges of my youth and my pre-baby self by having very long, impractical hair.
Hair that was not brushed, AT ALL, for five months after my son’s birth. Hair that regularly knots into one enormous dreadlock at the back after a few days of no brushing. Hair that is now mostly used as a rope for climbing, or clinging onto Mummy in the event of some major emergency like needing to climb onto the window sill and yell repeatedly at the birds outside.
But all the celebrities have long hair, right? This was the thought that assailed me as I flicked through the copies of Hello magazine in the hairdresser’s as I waited in earnest for the moment of reckoning, the moment when my long tresses lay, cast aside, on the floor. I will never be a celebrity now, without my long hair. I will never be this random one, married to Peter Andre (THANK GOD) or this one I’ve never seen before, who appears to be having twins with Ronnie Wood all of a sudden, even though he looks like a withered tree riddled with Dutch elm disease. I WILL NEVER BE A CELEBRITY NOW. I may never even get a boyfriend. Don’t all men love long hair?
I closed the magazine, remembering that I don’t want to be a celebrity and I don’t care what men think. The only opinion I care about is my own, and my own opinion was that I had Bad Hair.
It was when I saw a photo of myself on a recent “night out” (a.k.a. family dinner) that I realised something needed to be done (I say “night out” as the thought of going on an actual night out, in a club, with actual twentysomething blastocysts-girls with drawn-on eyebrows and boys in skinny jeans and sleeve tattoos, or whatever looks the yoof of today consider current, is nothing short of horrific).
When I asked my mother if she thought I should cut all my hair off she gave me a look of pure joy that I had not seen since the time she returned from work to find me exercising what she considered to be some poor parenting in the kitchen and had to rescue Piglet from the clutches of his clearly inept mother.
I took this to be a sign that I had just suggested something eminently sensible. Something that all good mothers should do. Something that might earn me the Public Badge of Good Motherhood back. Every mother needs a Mum Cut. Short, practical and eliminating the need for an endless supply of hairbands and dry shampoo in one fell swoop. It was, I decided time to bite the bullet and go for the chop. I am a mother now, and mothers must have Mum Hair. Mine may as well be short and practical, rather than a knotty ponytail powdery with dry shampoo.
I now have a Mum Cut. The Mum Transformation is complete. Just don’t make me go shopping at Boden.