I knew I was a bonafide mom when I found that first booger in my side ponytail. The rampant split ends no doubt provided the perfect net for stray snot.
It was a particularly humbling experience to find it lodged there. My hair had been a source of great pride in my youth. In college it naturally curled with manageable ease, and when I was pregnant it grew to great spiral lengths. But then, I gave birth and somehow all those blessed hormones that made my pregnant self a glowing beauty vaporized. Sucked from me with each midnight/early morning nursing session. My hair became a source of scraggly straight annoyance, but did I cut it off? No. My husband had too strong of an opinion for that (Do I have to summon Audrey Hepburn to convince you?)
I’m not sure how many errands I had done before I noticed it there. I was probably wiping my son’s bottom when I saw it. Or maybe I was sitting quietly with a cup of tea during naptime, browsing the internet for new hair cut inspiration (Michelle Williams’ pixie, please!)
After the yuck-factor wore off, and I resisted the urge to grab the scissors myself, I was struck with a sweet sense of purpose.
If a booger was in my ponytail, a little nose must’ve been close by. I suddenly thought about all the hugs I had given my children that day. All the times they fell and needed a kiss; and all the times I comforted them and encouraged them as they jumped on one foot or spun in dizzying circles. My boys exhaust me to impossible degrees, and often my exhaustion leads to a snotty side ponytail and sweatpants. But I wouldn’t trade them for all the designer cuts and clothes all the money could buy.
Being a mommy can sometimes feel like being robbed of dignity, like my slavish life is an endless series of shout, wipe, feed, and repeat. But instead of giving into a hopeless feeling of aimlessness, these mundane moments should remind me that there is no more dignified place I’d rather be. To be the source of comfort and love to a precious child gives my life a depth of meaning I may not have otherwise. That snotty side ponytail reminded me that I may have lost fashion, fitness, and that last inch of personal space, but being a mom is totally worth it. I’d trade clean hair for a sweet hug from my sons any day.