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Why I Rock My 'Mom Hair' With Pride

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christin wade

Last week, one small question brought my whole life as a special needs mom into perspective.

“Mommy?” asked my snaggle-toothed 7-year-old. “Why is your hair black and tan?”

I paused, quite sure my son was making a joke, the kind that only first graders find amusing. Chuckling, I brushed his question off and returned to blow drying my hair.

Then that little inner voice, way down deep inside of me started to well up — first a whisper, then a shout. I put down my dryer and looked, truly looked, into the mirror for the first time in as long as I could remember. The truth is that my hair was indeed an unstylish parade of colors. Dark roots growing out from hair 10 shades too light. Peppered in there now was also a heavy dose of gray and straggly, frizzy, split ends.

A few years ago this would have never happened. I wasn’t the magazine mommy, trendy and hip, but polished and fresh faced? I owned it.

Standing before me in the mirror that day was not the person I had once dreamed of being.

In her place stood something even better. A perfectly imperfect woman, a mother.

A mother who has been to more IEP meetings than happy hours this year.

A mother who’s learned raising a child with special needs is equal parts challenging and rewarding.

A mother who holds back tears every time her son is labeled as “special education.”

A mother who jumps for joy every time her son learns a new word or masters a new skill.

A mother with the ferocity of a lion and the claws of a bear when it comes to advocating for her child.

A mother who knows no victory is too small to be celebrated.

A mother facing new challenges every day but finding the strength to persevere because there is no other option.

A mother who cries herself to sleep at night wondering what the future holds for her child.

A mother who is too busy pouring her love, heart and soul into her children to even notice she’s six months overdue for a haircut.

I see a mother. She’s not perfect. She’s doesn’t have all of the answers. But she’s a mother, and she will proudly wear her “black and tan” hair with honor. To others, those unseemly dark roots may look disastrous, but to this mom they show strength. 

Much like the stretch marks earned during pregnancy or the dark circles under the eyes of new mothers, my unstylish hair is a scar from the war of motherhood. It symbolizes all of battles I’ve been through — the victories and the defeats, the good days and the bad.

So as I looked back down at my 7-year-old, who was now staring at me confused as he watched tears well in my eyes, I said proudly “I do have black and tan hair, and that’s OK me.” 

He said “I know, Mommy, I think it’s just beautiful!”  

In that small moment, filled with so many emotions and a flurry of tears, I felt the immensity and importance of this journey called motherhood. And although I will someday take a trip back to the salon, today I will confidently rock my mom hair with a full, happy heart.

Follow this journey on Blue Crab Martini.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing you want to make sure the special needs mom in your life knows? *If you are the special needs mom, challenge a loved one to respond to this! If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 4, 2016
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