When my son was born, I stopped coloring my hair. Prior to this event, the last time my hair remained unaltered by Miss Clairol was in 1994 or so - I actually started with Sun-In and peroxide in 10th grade, and spent most of my time in high school as a blonde, but I had let it go back to its original color by the end of college. In 1995, I went back to blonde, and have been nearly every haircolor (save unnatural neons) since then. I loved how it changed my features - each new shade brought out different changes in my eyes, the blush of my cheeks, the tone of my skin. And they all seemed to fit me. I can tell what year a photo was taken by the color of my hair.
When I was 24, I found my first grays. I originally plucked them out, until I realized that they grow back in coarser and stick straight out of your head - hardly the inconspicuous look I was going for. So I hid them, continually, with dye, from that moment on. I come by my early grey honestly - I've always been told that my grandmother had completely white hair by the time she was 30 (and hers was beautiful). She ended up having eight kids, though. I'd have white hair, too.
I had always said, when I was ready, my silver locks would be gorgeous, but I wasn't ready just yet. (I figured I'd be ready sometime in my 60s.) I kept dyeing, and dyeing, and dyeing, pretty much every two weeks. I took the first trimester off, per doctor's orders, and hated the slow creep of my natural color - I couldn't wait to get it back under its cloak of honey brown.
When my son was born, however, my thinking shifted. Vanity took a back seat to practicality. As I nursed him, my hair, then chin length, continually fell into my mouth and over my eyes. Unless I was wearing a headband I'd be constantly brushing my hair away so I could see him, or spitting it out to keep from eating it - completely maddening. Nine days of that was all I could stand.
On the day we took our son home from the NICU, I had a short break between feedings mid-day, and raced over to a salon that someone recommended. "Cut it off," I announced. "All of it. I want it gone." And the awesome stylist turned me into a Carey Mulligan pixie. I loved it. But it was still under its mask of Excellence #5G.
As the hair color began to grow out over a matter of weeks, my newfound greyness really bugged me. Each time I looked in the mirror, I felt older. It didn't help that I was completely sleep deprived, and the bags under my eyes had darkened to deep violet. There was no time to take 40 minutes to color it myself, so I asked my friends, via FB, if I should figure out a way to dye it again, or go all-out Jamie Lee Curtis. The vote came back overwhelmingly for JLC.
Now, I suspected that most of the folks who weighed in were people who wouldn't do it themselves; just wanted to see someone else go through it. ;) But, voyeurs or not, I decided to give it a go. And surprisingly, I'm actually starting to like it. The first haircut where I saw a completely white clump of hair fall into my lap was a shock (pun intended), but today, four haircuts later, it wasn't so bad. The hairs are actually pure white, not grey - I have two streaks of white, one where my part is, and another on the opposite side. My temples are pure white, as well. The rest of my hair is salt and pepper. It's a nice pattern. The section where my hair is parted I'm now calling my "firework."
So, every six weeks-ish, I will continue to race out to the Hair Cuttery with my carefully folded picture of Jamie Lee Curtis for reference, and watch as the salt slowly swallows the pepper on my addled little noggin. I'm still getting used to it. But any time I start to feel slightly down about "looking older," I just watch how my Munchkin's face lights up when I walk into a room. He doesn't know anything about my insecurities, or the way I used to look, or that I prefer one over the other. He could care less. He just knows that I'm his Mommy. And he thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am.