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Open Letter To Anyone Who Judges My "Mom Cut"

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Dear Judgy McJudgerson,

F*ck. My. Hair. Honestly, that’s been my mentality since getting an asymmetrical cut in eighth grade. I've always experimented with my hair because, well, a bad cut is not forever. Before having kids, I had run the gamut of styles, lengths, and colors, but never really invested in a “style.” Sure, I got blown out to perfection, but it was impossible to maintain, especially after having children. Which is why I am a staunch defender of "easy" hairstyles, and why I believe it's time an open letter to anyone who looks down on the "mom cut" is penned for the masses.

What exactly is the “mom cut?” The New York Times describes it as “longer-in-back, slight-shorter-in-front bob that should read sleek but is inescapably frumpy.” In my opinion, however, the genius minds at The New York Times has got it backwards. Most mom cuts are shaped as a long bob that’s actually longer-in-front, and shorter-in-back, otherwise known as a lob, a reverse mullet, or whatever the hell your hair is doing at the moment if you are a mom.

Repeat after me and for however long it takes for the sentiment to truly stick: my personal style shall not be interpreted as an unfortunate result of my breeding.

See, the problem isn't my hair. The problem lies with the haters who think my unfashionable look is directly tied to my role as a mom. It’s not. I just that, seriously, I don’t give a sh*t about my hair.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles, who thought this style was a good idea when she was 13

OK, I do care a little bit. I can honestly say I care enough to get my roots done (myself), and keep it clean (on workdays), and fold down pages of magazines for hairstyles I might consider one day asking for and until the pile of half-read periodicals on my nightstand overwhelms me. I'll look them over one more time, thinking of what "could be," before I just donate the damn magazines to my kid’s classroom for collage projects.

Repeat after me and for however long it takes for the sentiment to truly stick: my personal style shall not be interpreted as an unfortunate result of my breeding.

I had long hair when I had my first baby. As I navigated the new world of sleep deprivation and around-the-clock feedings, I paid less attention to my hair and more attention to trying to stand upright throughout the day. My blow dryer stayed in its drawer, I switched to 2-in-1 shampoo-and-conditioner as a timesaver, and I wore my hair in a perpetual low pony. I grew my bangs out without intending to, only because I just stopped going in for a trim.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles and her frizzy ponytail

By the time I was nine months pregnant with my second kid, I had it up to you-know-where with my hair. My high school reunion was coming up and I was determined to do something with the mop on my head, or rather have someone else do something with it since I wanted it to actually look nice. So I chopped it off, got some long layers cut in, and instantly regretted it. While it looked fine for that one night out with my old friends, it was at that hard-to-manage in-between length: too short to be swept up into a ponytail quickly, and too long to be left in its natural “style-free” state without eliciting looks of pity from a passersby who misread my unkempt hair as a symbol for motherhood, and not just my inherent laissez-faire attitude about the stuff growing on my head.

See, the problem isn't my hair. The problem lies with the haters who think my unfashionable look is directly tied to my role as a mom. It’s not. I just that, seriously, I don’t give a sh*t about my hair.

But I had to do something because of the photos.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles, now sporting "the cut"

When you have a baby, you end up in a lot of photos, whether you want to or not. I, as you might have already guess, did want. I love having those memories of me holding my kids in their tiniest, most innocent states. While I don’t love looking like I’m still pregnant in those pictures (thank you, fourth trimester), there is nothing to be done about that. My postpartum body was not really under my control in those first couple of months adjusting to not being pregnant anymore. My hair, on the other hand, was. I could do something about it, I just had to want to

The shorter “mom cut” served me well for several years. My focus was on our family’s complicated dance of full-time work, parenting, and all that other grown-up stuff you need to do.

So, my strategy was to cut it even shorter. While the long layers prevailed (albeit shorter versions of them), my neck was now on full view from all sides. There might have been a razor involved, you guys, but the instructions to the hairdresser were clear: “Make it OK for me to say ‘I woke up like this.’” It was a tall order, but Hector came through with minimal scolding about me not taking just “five minutes for myself” or some nonsense. Girl, if I had those five minutes I wouldn’t spend it working product through my hair. I'd spend it sleeping.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles, and hair gel

The shorter “mom cut” served me well for several years. My focus was on our family’s complicated dance of full-time work, parenting, and all that other grown-up stuff you need to do. I rarely thought about my hair, unless it was time to cover up the sprouting gray. Again.

My “mom cut”  is not a fashion statement, or an admission of stylish defeat. It’s just my hair.

However, as I watched my third grade daughter grow out her adorable pixie cut (she had Rapunzel goals, and went through copious amounts of de-tangler), I missed my longer tresses. There was a youthfulness I associated to hair length. It allowed for more experimentation, so I could reinvent myself with a bun or deep side part or braids (for swimming). I could get back to my roots of playing with my hair in ways the short style didn’t really allow. Plus, my kids were older and better at occupying themselves for longer periods of time. At ages 8 and 5, it was important for them to grow their independence. I decided I needed a new “mom cut.” One that matched how I was evolving as a parent.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles and her rainbow unicorn hair

So it’s been almost a year since my last haircut. I have split ends up the wazoo, but I’ve saved some money avoiding the salon. I attempted a DIY ombre dye job and, sure it looks cheap, but I don’t hate it. After I shower (and use more leave-in conditioner than I remember needing in a long time), I just wrap my wet hair on top of my head and forget about it. When I leave work to head back home 10 hours later, I unwind my hair. It falls in loose waves past my shoulder, fragrant and damp. My daughter asks to style it and does a much better job than I ever could. It takes way more than five minutes, but it’s quality time spent with her.

Saturday Night Live on YouTube

My “mom cut”  is not a fashion statement, or an admission of stylish defeat. It’s just my hair.

Sincerely,

A Mom Who Just Doesn't Have The Time