I inherited many traits from my father: my lack of a poker face when I’m annoyed, the inability to keep my mouth shut when I hear stupidity, and a complete lack of sympathy for anyone who arrives late. I inherited his cleft chin, his love for Chinese food, and a deep abiding love for historical fiction novels.
And I inherited his curly hair.
While I’ve been told my whole life that women pay huge sums of money to have their tresses shaped into curves like mine, I have a sneaking suspicion that women stopped wanting curly hair as soon as the ’80s ended and jacked-to-Jesus hair was no longer a thing.
As a kid, my curly hair resulted in some pretty awkward school photos given the lack of hair products that could adequately manage frizz. And though I eventually learned how to manage my curly locks and made piece with the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I would never look like Meg Ryan with her adorable moppy haircut, I’ve always been envious of women with straight hair.
Curly hair requires planning, people. When you have a headful of curls, there are products and relaxers and curling irons involved just to get out the door. There’s no “wash and go” for a curly-haired gal, and while I have come to love my curls and know that they are part of my personality, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought more than once of just shaving my head.
And once I became a mom, my curly hair became a problem, because let’s face it: No curly girl has the time to properly style her fussy hair when you have a toddler demanding to poop and an infant hanging off your boob.
Suffice it to say, I’ve worn a lot of baseball caps since I became a mother. And if you have curly hair, I’m raising my bottle of deep conditioner to you because I know you understand.
1. Bedhead is epic with curly hair.
For the first year of my son’s life, I alternated between looking like the Bride of Frankenstein and the chick from Weird Science most days. I could barely see straight, and on the days I managed to get a shower, it was often late at night. Going to bed with wet hair is a disaster for a gal with curls. When I woke up one morning and my husband said, “What’s up, George Washington?” I knew I had a hair problem.
2. Short mom-hair isn’t an option.
The thing about curly hair is that it’s mostly a barometer for humidity. The more humid it is, the bigger your hair gets. And when it’s long, it’s easier to manage because you have the ponytail or bun option. So when you want to hack your hair off in a desperate attempt to find five extra minutes in the morning, you quickly realize that short hair is a big mistake.
3. Diapers are expensive, and hair products are the first to go.
I met my hairdresser 17 years ago, and there’s a reason she’s on my Christmas card list. She has beaten my curls into submission but not without a hefty price tag — one that was easier to swallow when I didn’t have kids. But once you start buying diapers, those pricey hair products that keep your curls from going haywire are the first to get crossed off the list. And you wind up walking around looking like a disheveled mess while your kids take a shit in the diapers that should be your beloved humectant gel.
4. Weather is not a curly-haired person’s friend.
Moms spend a lot of time outside. Whether it’s sitting in blazing sun during a soccer practice, darting into the grocery store in pouring rain, or getting windblown during a playdate at a park, moms with curly hair have perpetual bad hair days for infinity. I’m fairly certain that Mother Nature has straight hair. I know moms with curly hair who have worn a baseball cap for three years straight rather than deal with the effects of humidity.
5. Your kids inherit your curls, and it makes bath time and hair brushing hell.
Sure, detangling sprays have come along way, and I’m more than a little bit jealous of the painless brushes on the market these days, but no amount of product ease changes the screaming and howling of a 3-year-old with tangled curls. Sorry, kid. I’ve got no sympathy for you. Hold still.
Yes, my curly hair is a pain in the ass most days, and I seriously envy anyone with hair that looks the same all day or who can roll out of bed looking decent. But on those rare days when the humidity is just right, I’ve had three extra minutes to primp, and my curls decide to cooperate, I love that my curls give me a little extra spring in my step. And since my dad passed away, my curls remind me of him and make me smile.
But seriously, people with straight hair: The next one of you who tells me you’d kill for my curls is going to get a love tap from my flat iron.