The plane was nearing take off. The cabin door was already closed and the flight attendants were circling the aisles looking to chomp up one more impermissible electronic device before taking their jump seats. I sat there hoping my hair would hide my iPhone just enough. It was three hours earlier in LA. These five minutes were my chance to say “good morning” and “I love you” to my kids and no ambiguously important FAA rule was going to stand in the way.
Besides, it was mismatch day at Ella’s school and I had to find out what she was wearing.
The tinny crackle of the speaker phone on the other side was capturing only good news…three kids awake (check, I never consciously expected worse, but still a relief), gleeful clamoring to talk to mommy (nice, they are cheerful despite my second morning away), and Ella was ready for her mismatch day. Dad has found her ladybug and frog toe socks and the shoe laces we bought a couple of weeks ago, one set with stars, one set with polka dots, were now joined, each laced into her blue converse sneakers. Polka dot leggings, striped hoody shirt (on backwards). Ella couldn’t have been more excited about their creation.
Then she got to the hair.
Ella’s enthusiastic description reached its peak at the top of her body. “…and dad put five different color hairbands on my pony tail.”
Simultaneously, me, just not thinking, just about to take off, not perfectly present, blurted…”Who did your hair?” Worse than the question was the tone: ‘Oh dear, your hair must be a mess.’ And really, who could have done her hair? Bowen (age two and a half)? Ruby (five)? I was so desperate to imagine her hair in two neat side braids tucked together in a perfectly brushed and symmetrical pony tail that the thought of dad’s hands (which did not handle long hair for the first 38 years of his life) doing Ella’s hair led me to invent the hopeful prospect that some wandering stylist had randomly taken up refuge in the house that morning.
There was silence. Ella had heard it. Was something wrong with my hair? I have the greatest outfit in the entire history of my school, or maybe I don’t. Is something wrong? Dad, pretty proud of himself just moments ago, stood staring at the hair. The power had just gone out in the middle of the carnival.
The silence was only a moment but it was deafening. I heard it. The flight attendants heard it. Air traffic control heard it. “Miss please turn off your phone.” It was the final ask. Both sides of our cross continental conference call shouted “I love you” and then silence. I was 10,000 feet away from checking in with Mitch to see how bad the damage was. In many respects it didn’t matter, Mitch is good at covering and maybe he didn’t even notice it as much as I thought.
Later via email (Thanks in-flight WIFI!), my husband assured me that Ella is “full of awesome” (to borrow a phrase from Pigtail Pals), and continued with a skip in her step. But the lesson was learned once again; having a real partner for a husband, having a home that is happy and functional even when I am not there, means I need to let go when I go. To live my life, pursue my goals, do my part to make my family secure, to be the role model that I am, also means that I have to be willing to let my hair down…and Ella’s too. Especially on mismatch day.
This hairstyle is super.
And this pose says it all.