The Big Cut

I like to think of myself, generally, as a generous person. I love volunteering and helping others, whether it be big or small. Since my son was born, my generous spirit has been more restricted. I can’t donate my time as easily, because I must always have at least one eye on that mischievous 15-month old that calls me Mama. Since I stay at home with him, our budget requires our tender loving care and there’s less room in it for giving. I pray, pretty much all the time, for random people and situations as I think about them. But I wanted to do more, and do something tangible. So I decided to get creative with how I could benefit someone.

My grandmother has been on my mind and heart a lot lately. Last July, she lost her battle with cancer. She fought valiantly and endured chemotherapy three times, losing all of her hair each time. Each remission brought hope, and each resurgence brought heartbreak and weariness. As someone who was always perfectly put together and one of those devastatingly beautiful women, her hair loss was hard for her. The last time she went through chemo, she had her husband shave her head before it could fall out on its own. She couldn’t take the slow, daily reminder of her body’s betrayal.


For years, I’ve considered chopping my hair off and donating it to Locks of Love, a national program that uses donated hair to make wigs for children suffering hair loss due to illness. Their mission statement reads:

“Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.”
The children who receive donated hair are over six years old and suffer from long-term hair loss. The children younger than six or who suffer from short term hair loss receive synthetic hair. This ensures high quality hair pieces go to those who need them most direly.

As the anniversary of my grandmother’s death approaches, I decided I wanted to honor her memory by donating my hair to a child to help, in some small way, make their journey a little more manageable. Self-confidence may not cure disease, but it certainly can’t hurt. My Grams rocked the wigs and the hats and the scarves, and was still absolutely beautiful. Her beauty came from her generous heart, her kind spirit, and her outrageous sense of humor.

My pre-cut cascade of hair.


Once I made the decision to donate my hair, I began calling salons all over Wasilla and Palmer. I’d heard many salons give the donator a free cut and style, and wanted to find one to ensure my hair was properly cut so it could be donated. The guidelines for donated hair are available on the Locks of Love website, at LocksofLove.org. The minimum length is 10 inches, but more is ideal as most applicants are girls who would like long hair. 10 inches of hair only provides a chin-length wig. Since I was incredibly nervous about cutting my extra-long hair short for the first time in 14 years, I wanted to be confident my stylist knew what she was doing.

After failing to find a Valley salon with the free-cut policy, I decided to go to my typical salon. Well, I’m a failure at getting my hair cut regularly, so the salon I’ve been to twice. My stylists’ previous appointment ran over by an hour, while I sat waiting and feeling butterflies fill up my stomach. I’d measured my hair at home, and knew 10 inches would still leave me with hair past my shoulders.
When my turn came, my stylist offered to do my hair for free it was for Locks of Love. Though it wasn’t the salon’s policy, she offered without my even asking. The salon didn’t have any type of measuring device, so she used her comb with the knowledge it was six inches long. She measured it twice, put the hair tie up high and pulled it down the pony tail to the height she’d measured.

Then she cut above it. What felt like high above it.

Gulp.

She handed me my ponytail, and I thought, huh, that looks like more than ten inches. Oh well, they said more was better, so it’ll be okay.

Then I looked up. And even though I was doing it for my Grams, and even though I felt confident I was doing the right thing, I had a second of doubt when I saw my hair swinging freely over my shoulders.

I’m not a terrible person. Yes, I know it will grow back and I’m so blessed to be able to have my own hair. But for that one moment? I was terrified I’d made a mistake. The stylist I was scheduled with had never done a Locks of Love cut before and looked up the guidelines on her phone before she cut it to double check I had it right (which is fine; if I’d been mistaken and unable to donate it I would’ve been heartbroken). I appreciate her thoroughness. But next time? I’m taking a tape measure with me. I sat in the chair, staring at my new short hair, and willing myself not to look scared or upset that it was different than I expected. I prayed for peace, and God provided it.

Now my hair tickles my neck. I can’t even pull it into a pony tail. My head feels lighter. My shower took significantly less time. But I look more Rapunzel-post-hair-cut in Tangled than I do Rapunzel’s mom (who, let’s face it, has gorgeous hair and I can’t believe the rest of the internet is postulating about how amazing both mother and daughter’s hair is!). I measured my hair when I got home, and the pony tail I’m sending off measures 14 inches long. I definitely don’t regret taking the plunge- or cut, if you will- and will definitely do it again when my hair grows back out.

14 inches!!


Since I was twelve years old and started growing my hair and keeping it super long, I’ve felt like that was part of what made me special. I feel a little less special now, but I’m hoping some of my special-ness will transfer and make the little girl who receives it feel even more special than I’m sure she already is. I hope it makes her feel like a princess. And if she imagines herself as a Disney princess? All the better.

Post cut with Baby A– he seems to like it.


May all your days be magical,
C




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