Six years ago, I was in Costa Rica learning about Children At Risk. One day, my friends and I noticed a new guy in the dinning hall. I had no intention of ever talking to that dread-headed hippie, but my friends were much friendlier than I, and invited the new guy to sit with us. I quickly discovered he was a pretty cool guy, and I probably shouldn’t be so judgmental based on someones hairstyle.
A couple weeks later, a girl asked the dread-head to give her dreads. Suddenly, I blurted out “can I have dreads too?” All my friends looked at me in shock. Becky with dreads?!
Of all people, I was the last person anyone expected to ever get dreads. I don’t even know why I said that, the words just fell out of my mouth, but dreads made sense. Costa Rica was hot, humid, and windy. My hair was long, thick, sweaty and sticky, and we didn’t have hot water for showers. I hate washing my hair in cold showers, because it’s just so cold! I had the same hair-cut pretty much my whole life. Grow my hair long for 3 years, and then cut it off for Locks-Of-Love, and then grow it long again. At the time, my hair was quite long and I was ready to do something new, different.
Having dreadlocks was freeing and challenging at the same time. It broke me as a neat-freak, because my hair was pretty crazy. For a few weeks, I was startled by my own reflection every time I walked past the mirror.
I no longer looked like a quiet, shy homeschooler. Suddenly random strangers would initiate conversations with me – saying “nice hair” or asking if I had or wanted drugs. Usually I was confused and a friend had to tell me “they are asking about drugs.” Did I mention I was homeschooled?
I planned to brush out the dreadlocks before returning to the USA, but all my friends back home were saying, “I can’t wait to see you with dreads.” So I kept them.
I had dreadlocks at our wedding. It was a easy hairstyle for living in India. It worked nicely for childbirth, and those first few months of parenthood when I didn’t have time to wash my hair anyway. Dreads made it easy to live out of our camper-van on our 3 month road trip. It is pretty great to roll out of bed and know my hair looked great. Or at least exactly the same as it always looks.
My hair always looked exactly the same. For 6 years. It gets kind of boring after a while.
The only change was my dreads did get longer, and heavier. I finally cut them shorter. I didn’t like how it looked, but it sure felt lighter! When our home-visit nurse came for Lioness’s weekly weight-check, I weighed the ziplock bag of cut-off dreads. It was half a pound. That’s a lot of extra weight for my poor head and neck to be carrying around.
Everyone we’ve meet since moving to Oregon, only knows me as the Becky with dreads. It’s like they don’t actually know the “real” me, the “normal” me. Not that my hairstyle makes me any more or less “me.”
I feel like our family is entering a new season of life. I’m not the same crazy person who moved to India on our honeymoon, or took a 3 month old baby on a 3 month road trip to 25 states and Canada living out of our camper van. Were we crazy? I feel smarter now. Or at least I have a higher value for staying sane.
At almost 30 years old, I’m starting to feel like a real adult. I’m no longer “playing house.” I’m making a home for our family. I have children now! How did that happen?!
A couple times a week, I have a wrestling match with my 2 1/2 year old in effort to brush her hair. If we brushed her hair every day like normal people, it wouldn’t be so tangly. “If you don’t let me brush your hair, you’re going to end up with dreadlocks like Mama.” Monkey looks at me, thinking “I don’t understand the problem.”
So I showed Monkey what happens when you don’t brush your hair for six years. I spent two weeks brushing out one dreadlock at a time. I took about 30 minutes per dread. I had 50 dreads, so that’s 25+ hours spent brushing my hair. It gave me something to do while I was pumping milk a bajillion times a day. Of course Monkey got mad at me for brushing my hair instead of playing train tracks. I asked, “do you want me to brush your hair, or brush my hair.” Her response “you no bush my hair! Bush your hair you!” That’s what I thought.
Now when I wake up, not only do I have to decide what I’m going to wear, I also have to figure out what to do with my hair. That takes a lot of decision-making brain power first thing in the morning. There’s lots of options of hairstyles out there.
I should probably schedule some sort of hair cut/trim, but currently my hair is a lot more curly than I remember it being, so you can’t tell it’s all different lengths. I’m doing good to have bought a hairbrush, but when I brush my hair, it gets really poofy! But if I brush it when it’s wet, it drys in these fun crimpy curls, which I really like! I have no idea where the curls came from, but I hope it stay this way.