Get it? A couple months ago, the title was "The Hair Thing". Now it's "The Bald Thing"? Yeah, I know. I didn't need to explain. But here's the real thing: I want to explain.
When we went to the salon to get my head shaved, I brought a new hat with a scarf to tie around it. It was pretty and stylish and covered every part of my head that would usually have hair (Thanks, Liz R.) I verified with the hair stylist that I'd tied the bow to appropriately cover the back of my neck so that one would assume hair was underneath. I even had a hat on when Paul got home from work and only removed it after the dinner conversation, "What did everyone do today?"
But to be honest, the new hairstyle (or non-hairstyle) is the MOST COMFORTABLE THING EVER! I highly, wholeheartedly recommend the bald thing for everybody on the planet!
Maybe it's just because the falling-out hair was unbearably itchy, but the difference between the 1-inch cut and the 0-inch cut is night and day. It's cool for summer. There's no hat-head when I do want a hat. I don't have to brush it out of my eyes (or brush it at all). Oh, and drying myself after a shower... Think about that for a moment.
So after a few days of being bald inside and making sure a hat was handy near the front and back doors in case of visitors, I ventured out to get the mail au-naturale. Although I was telling myself that I didn't want to be seen, deep down, I think I DID want to be seen. Not only did I want to see the reaction from a neighbor, but I wanted to see my own reaction.
I think the first person to see it was Brian across the street, and I was quick to say, "You get to see my bald look." Without flinching, he asked if it's comfortable. That was the perfect question, as it gave me confidence to explain the benefits.
Then I went through the following stages, each lasting about a week or two:
-Hat or scarf outside but never inside, even when answering the door, because if you're coming to see me, you get to see the real me.
-Outside in our yard bald, but hat or scarf nearby to be quickly put on when people came close.
-Bald all time at home, inside or out. Hat (gave up on the scarf as it got hotter) for visits at other people's houses or public venues.
-Started asking others if they mind me removing my hat because of the heat.
-Screw it. It's really hot and I'm feeling confident enough. Bald all the time.
Interestingly, for my first two bald trips out in public, my last
nudge in the bare direction was from Paul. On the way out the door, I
asked, "Hat or nothing?" and he non-chalantly replied both times,
Here's the first bald public appearance:
I've been bald all the time since at least the beginning of July. And here's the interesting thing: Not a single person has asked me about it. Not one. No strangers approaching with a, "My mom just finished chemo" supportive smile. No children yelling, "Why is that lady bald?" to an embarassed parent. No "Rock on, Sista'!" from mall shoppers. Nothing. Nothing at all.
Now there were a few fears I had during that month of staying covered that I had to get over before embracing bald. The first fear was about meeting new people to whom it might matter. This one came up when I
brought the girls to their first weeks of camp. I didn't want any
special treatment or judgement from the counselors, so I was sure to
wear hats and scarves during my initial few drop-offs and pick-ups. Once
everyone got to know Maggie and Reese separately from being, "The cancer
lady's kids", I started coming bald. A few days later, I brought up the
cancer conversation with the two lead counselors so they'd know the
whole story. Now, I'm hoping it's "Maggie and Reese, the well-behaved,
creative, and happy children who are handling their mom's breast cancer extraordinarily well."
I also was wary of dealing with people's sympathy. Some of the neighbors here who have
known me since I was born (if you don't know, I live in the house where I
grew up) have taken that angle, and I'm not comfortable with it. The
two comments that stick are, "You poor dear. I've been praying for you,"
and "Well, your face looks great!" Both comments are from wonderful
ladies who mean nothing but the best, but they just don't fit my scheme
of dealing with this cancer. I'm not a poor dear, I'm an "awesome diva"
(okay maybe not even that, but I'm a regular mom). And if you want to
mention my being bald, just say it or ask about it. Complimenting my
face, when it's the same face as I've always had, shows that you're
trying too hard not to mention the hair. However, it seems that people of my generation somehow know to avoid the sympathy lines. I had a mall encounter with a mom from preschool start with, "Who is that beautiful bald lady!?" and I've had numerous compliments from other friends about my round head and big smile. I'm sure everyone's sympathetic inside, but somehow don't relay it to me.
Another fear was about children. I actually wouldn''t mind the loud questions to moms, but I didn't want to scare kids into thinking that there is something wrong or that their hair is going to fall out. I even asked Maggie and Reese if it was okay for me to go places without a hat, but they'd seen me bald at home for so long, I don't think they even noticed the steps.
However, I never had any fears about my appearance. To be blunt, Who cares? Remember, I'm fashion clueless and makeup-free in the first place. I wear Walmart t-shirts and 10-year-old Tevas (with socks if it's cold out). The distance from a Great Clips hair trim to a high-end salon head shaving isn't very far.
Another out-and-about picture:
I'll end this post with some unfortunate news. My hair is starting to grow back.