Last night Z nearly broke my heart.
I was washing her hair, which could be considered a full time job, although we do it on average once a week if I’ve had enough coffee and sleep, when she made the comment that she doesn’t like her hair and wished it was like all her friends hair, which is in her words ‘smooth’.
Z has the most fantastic Afro, which I’ll admit at first I didn’t at first know the first thing about dealing with for obvious reasons, the main being I never had hair like that so why bother learning right? But over the years as her hair grew I realized it was getting more curly and thick and I would need more insight on how to care for her crowning glory to do it full justice, I started researching what the better quality products would be to use. I learned all about a wash n go and wet plopping and deep conditioning which to be honest were all very helpful for my hair as well since I also have curly hair, although not to the extent of Z’s 3c/4a curls. I learned not to use drug store brands that contain sulphates and other harmful chemicals that will further dry her hair out. I learned how to trim her hair myself to maintain it and get rid of dry, split ends on my own without spending a fortune on a hairdresser. I will admit though that I still cannot plait her hair, but I have learned twist outs and how to lay her edges so I’ll just take that as a win for now. One step at a time. 🤷🏻♀️
But when she was upset last night because her hair wasn’t ‘smooth’ like all her friends at school my heart fell into my gut. I can only be so much of a roll model for her in this area. I wear my hair as big, full and curly as possible, because I honestly feel the bigger the better, and I truly think natural hair is better. I’ve straightened my hair maybe once a year since finding out all this information about hair for Z. Little E wears his hair pretty close cut because he just has no interest in keeping a style and prefers it practically shaved, and even when he does grow it out, it’s not as curly as Z’s, it’s more of a thick bigger curl. Her dad maintains a bald head although they don’t see him often (as my regular readers know 3 visits when we went back at Christmas and before that it was February last year). So I guess my point with all these “examples ” is that she has no natural hair role models as far as her hair texture. I’ve shown her on places like instagram woman with beautiful hair like hers and how they wear it even bigger than hers. For reference, her fro averages between 6-10 inches but I don’t fluff it out on the bigger side often. She prefers to style it pushed back with a headband or with a few clips or two pigtail afropuffs. Which is for the best because those are the only ones I can pull off half decently.
Anyways this is a very roundabout way of saying I hurt for her. I want her to be proud of every part of her, but this is a way I can’t directly be a role model for her. Yes, I can wear my hair naturally and I do, but her hair is distinctively different, not only from mine, but from the streets of Kelowna and even where we were before and heck even in a Kenya because of the mix, and others notice. I think it’s fantastic and beautiful and many others do as well. We constantly receive compliments while out about how nice her hair is of which I reminded her last night. I told her that her hair is original and beautiful and she should never want to change who or how she is. I was detangling it and showed her how long it was while wet and stretched out and she was so impressed, since it reaches to her elbows. So after the bath, I did one long braid for her down her back and she was much happier and kept mentioning how long and smooth it looked. Albeit it only lasted about 15 minutes until it was completely dry and shrunk up to her neck but it made her happy in that moment.
I’m just wondering how to move forward from here. I’m WELL aware that my kids should have strong black role models in their life, but if there aren’t any around… I can’t just produce them out of thin air.
My in laws are not an option, her dad is out of the question. The black community in Kelowna is to be honest practically nonexistent (trust me, I’ve looked). But I know that it will be something they need to become the fullest version of themselves they can be.
I guess that’s the most frustrating aspect of this experience. Knowing I can be the best mom I can possibly be. I can make all the healthy lunches and arrange all the play dates and study up on all the hair care and do all the sex talks, to name a few examples, but facts are facts, and facts in my situation is that my kids are half black, there’s no denying that, and I would never want to. And that culture is not something I can provide them, and they desperately need it.
It makes me feel so inadequate.
Knowing no matter what, I’ll never be enough. And I can’t do it on my own.
And what’s worse it that the right people are not offering to help.
Just stopped at Walmart and saw this ironic and timely display showing Robert Munschs books on display
All had been picked through except the braids book (which Z owns). It’s a book about a girl with hair like Z’s and how she doesn’t like to have it braided since it takes a while and hurts. Etc. But anyways it’s literally just shows how no one in Kelowna has that culture in their life nor is trying to pass it on to future generations here and I’m on my own with my kids. 😑
*Z with morning bed head for reference*
-Dishwalla / Every Little Thing –