Monday, March 1, 2010

Boxing up the Bows

Nine years ago I gave birth to a 7 pound, 9 ounce bundle of baby girl.

She was born March 2nd. By March 3rd she had a bow in her hair, a little parcel of pink yarn tied into a bow and stuck to her newborn head with a smidgen of gel.

Her birth ushered in pink-colored visions of tulle and patent-leather Sunday shoes. I clipped teeny tiny barrettes into her fine baby locks and squeezed chubby toddler legs into ruffle-bottomed tights for church.

All along the way I've relished every part of little girldom. Years later I can still recall each outfit, each pair of little shoes, each special occasion...and the hair-bow that commemorated it.

For years we've had an entire bathroom drawer devoted to the housing of bows and ribbons, bows she no longer wears but that I couldn't bear to put away.

About a month ago I realized it had been well over a year since a bow had graced her thick, blonde hair. I knew the time would come when we'd say goodbye to bows but these kinds of transitions are not the sort we celebrate with pomp and circumstance.

I'd put off the task for months, preferring to keep my emotions closed up in a dark place just like the hair-bows. But on a random Thursday evening I finally got up the courage to do the unthinkable and the inevitable:

I boxed up the bows.

Giant tears plopped into the drawer, mingling with the polka-dots on the brightly colored grosgrain ribbon. Clearly, I have a hard time letting go.

I struggle to relinquish her to the passing days and the changes that come as little girls grow into bigger girls. She thinks it's silly that I cry over the loss of each baby tooth and she certainly didn't miss a step when I cleaned out her bow drawer. Rather, she was thrilled to have more space for her growing collection of earrings and nail polish.

She fixes her own hair now. I bite my tongue when I see that her pony-tails are crooked. I watch her admire older girls and try not to notice as she fiddles in the bathroom with new hairstyles that are a bit more modern and grown-up. I suppress a giggle as I count numerous bobby pins and clips she uses to hold her big-girl hairstyles in place.

I wish I'd never begrudged a single moment of hurrying to fix her hair so we wouldn't be late for stuff I can't even remember now. I think of all the times I quickly brushed through her tangles while she said Ouch! and I felt annoyed. I think of the countless moments I twisted rubber bands to secure her braids or clipped a hair-bow in without a second thought, unaware that those days would be gone in a flash.

Saturday was her birthday party. I took her and a couple of her friends roller skating, followed by pizza, cake, crafts, incessant giggling and much nail polish. As she got ready for the big event, she asked, Mommy, can you help me get the tangles out and blow-dry my hair? You're better at it than I am.

I jumped at the chance. And it probably comes as no surprise that I fought back tears as I brushed and dried, brushed and dried, the trivial becoming ceremonial as I fixed my girl's hair...even though there wasn't a hair-bow in sight.



  1. wow~really puts it in perspective! I guess I will brush Jordan's 4-nearly 5 year old tangles differently tomorrow! :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Aww Scooper, this is a milestone!
    Love the ending where Blondie still needs her Mommy's help. Great story telling.
    Thanks for sharing another glimpse into your daily life.
    love ya!

  3. I had to laugh out loud at the crooked pony tails. There are so many days that I have to bite my tongue at my oldest daughters preferred hair styles. I love the moments that they ask for my help. Even my 4 year old wants to brush herself and that breaks my heart somedays.

  4. Oh, if only the "trivial becoming ceremonial" could occur before the 20/20 hindsight kicks us in the . . . um, memory jogger! Makes me wonder if maybe there's just not as much "trivial" as we often think.

    What a fantastic post! Takes me back to the moments that I now realize were not so trivial as I brushed Blondie's mother's hair.

    Love you forever,

  5. This is my first visit here, Scooper. What a great way to unwrap today. I'm on the verge of tears. What a beautiful post. And a beautiful tribute to "the trivial becoming ceremonial." Thank you.

  6. Oh I cried when I read this as I am dealing with this very "event"! You said everything I have felt and even said in the past when dealing with hair issues. Thank you for sharing. BTW, I went through the same emotions when packing up the crib, high chair, diaper changing table, etc.

  7. I so relate to this! My 4 yo varies day to day on her hair style. I cherish the days that she wants to wear a bow!! Now, when she stops wanted to wear the cute socks, skirts, and "shiny" shoes, i will REALLY cry!!!!

  8. my oldest of three daughters turns 8 in twelve days...i shed tears along with you...i shed some (quite loudly actually) in target a few months ago as i read the book "someday" in the aisle. wow. precious and bittersweet this thing called motherhood.
    (loved your minivan post from awhile ago too...couldn't figure out how to post my comment at that time.)

  9. Oh! Now I want to go wake up my daughter so I can fix her hair. :) My daughter is going to be 4 in June and she's so excited to be a grown up. I definitely need to be savoring the moment more than I do. Thanks for the reminder and the beautiful post. :)

  10. Awww, sounds like a sweet time. You are right, transition is tough but at the same time it brings a new stage of life for you to enjoy with your daughter.

  11. This is wonderful. Motherhood is wonderful, and terrible, and wonderful.

  12. I bet you know know all about minivans after your trip, huh?? I love the one you picked out. You should photograph all the cool stuff it does. My kids love the glowing dash lights.
    And bows.....I never got to do bows. The most I got was pigtails and that didn't last long. Now it's "Mommy, dont' touch my hair."
    Guess I should expect no less after three older brothers.

  13. This makes my heart sad. My daughter is only 10 months old. Thank you for the reminder to cherish these times.

  14. I love your blog!!! I recently found it through... well I'm not sure??? I love everything I have come across! Thank you and many blessings!

  15. oh heaven's to betsy you have me in a puddle of tears. this is beautifully written. so beautiful. thank you God for the treasure of today and may you allow us to embrace it in it's fullness!!!

  16. So sweet. So true. I love the phrase, "the trivial becoming ceremonial"... I sort of felt that way last week when I was blessed, on 3 different days, to have two of my kids stay home from school. We got to snuggle on the couch, read stories, and bake. I relished that time because it all passes sooooo quickly! My daughter is 10.5 and gave up the bows and dresses 4 years ago. I miss it, for sure! I do still get to put her hair in a ponytail for her... I will do it with a little more enthusiasm now!! Blessings!

  17. So sweet - though I don't have bows to be boxed, as a mother of boys I know I'll be so sad when the day comes that I'll have to ASK for that hug or extra snuggle that they crave so often at the present.

    I have two 'mamma's boys' on my hands at the moment - savoring that.

    I left you an award on my blog this weekend. ;)

  18. This brought tears to my eyes. Each milestone means they are growing older. Reminds me to enjoy what I have yet to live with my kids.

  19. I can so relate to this... I have one daughter and she is now 14. They grow up far too fast.

  20. It is so hard to see them grow so fast, isn't it? I cry over things like boxing up bows too. I have a box for each of my kids now. I started when they were younger. When they would meet some 'stage' in life where they threw out a bunch of stuff, I would go through and grab a thing or two and stash it away. Now that they are 25, 23 and 18 they are amazed and overjoyed when I pulled out their box and gave it to them (at least the two oldest. Haven't given the youngest her yet, she still has a faze or two left in her).


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