Friday, January 7, 2011

Just Like Mama

Marlie has been having trouble lately with the fact that she just doesn't look like her Mama. She is always trying to find ways to match me, but it's difficult to accomplish beyond clothing. For a year she's been asking for a purple streak in her hair like mine. For a year I've been saying no.

But with the increasing frustration she's had lately over our differences in appearance, I've been re-thinking it. Still on the fence, it was Marshall who changed my mind. He was all for Marlie getting a purple streak, telling me, "It's just hair!". And he's right. And I started to think, if this simple gesture will help her bridge the gap between our physical differences, it will be worth it. But before I told her yes, I consulted with her African American hair stylist and with my hair stylist (who does my purple streak) to make sure it would be safe to do on a child so young. (both stylists work at the same place and know each other well) They both assured me it would be just fine to do. It would change the texture slightly and require more conditioner than the rest of her hair but otherwise be fine.

Soooooo... I came home and told Marlie we could give her a purple streak in her hair. To say she was excited is an understatement. She was elated. It was just before Christmas when we told her she could get it done, and she would ask almost daily when she was getting her purple hair. Finally I made an appointment for her to get her hair done today.

This week she was counting down the day until her appointment. She kept informing her big brothers she had an "appointment" to get her purple hair. Last night she was excited to go to bed and go to sleep early so today would come sooner. This morning she couldn't wait to get to the hair salon. And while I gave her the option of picking the location of the purple streak, I was unsurprised that she chose to have it in the same place, same side as I have mine.

Here is her "before" picture.

In order for the purple to show up on her hair, they had to first bleach her hair. They have to do the same thing to my hair as well.

Then Marlie had to spend some time under the heat lamp while her hair lightened. I wisely brought along an iPad to help her pass the time.

Surprise! Marlie has "yellow" hair!!! She thought it was so silly.

Now time to apply the purple!

Then she got her hair blown dry and flat ironed. While the purple was still soaking in her hair, I had my hair washed and blown straight as well, so she and I would both have "flat" hair together.

As soon as her hair was finished and I took her out of the salon chair, she hugged me tightly and thanked me for letting her have purple hair. Once we got home, Daddy wanted to take some pictures outside with his fancy camera.

Some people might judge me for letting her do this. Heck, a few years ago I would've judged someone for coloring their young child's hair. But having seen Marlie increasingly struggle with our differences in appearances, and knowing how much this small gesture means to her... I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Of course there are some lines I won't cross, like chemically straightening her hair or coloring the entire thing, but when it comes to a purple streak... it's just hair.


  1. I LOVE it!!! Love the idea and the emotions behind it all!!! You are truly an inspiration to me! So glad adoption brought us together!

  2. I think it is a wonderful idea, yay for purple hair!

  3. This is a prime example about how, in parenting, it's good go have guidelines but to also be able to make judgment calls.

    I think you did right by Marlie. BTW, she's beatiful -- duh. You, too!

  4. You're absolutely right - it's just hair! Such a simple gesture to reassure a little girl.

    The sweetest thing is, I'm sure she'll come to realize that you already look alike in many ways. You both have a similarly beautiful facial structure, an adorably cute smile and the sparkle of true happiness in your eyes.

    Great post, thanks.

  5. What a special girl! That's got to be so hard for her to wrap her mind around all of the things that have happened to her in her short life. I hope and pray that she will realize how beautiful she is, inside and out - even if she feels "abandoned" by her birth parents and she doesn't look like you. She is a precious soul, daughter of the King, made for a purpose. I look forward to being witness to what God has in store for her in the future!

  6. I think it was a grand idea, Julie!

  7. With a big sister, Anna wants more to look like Abigail than me (or maybe she just thinks I'm not worth imitating?)

    Anyway, I already see a lot of "I want to be like Abigail..." in Anna, which has been satisfied by letting them dress alike, have similar hair bows, etc. I fully expect that one day she will want to have hair like Abigail's, too.

    I love that you responded to Marlie's needs with such open-mindedness and hope I have the wisdom to do the same when we get to that point with Abigail.

  8. I gotta say that Marlie looks more like you than you think :) Differences in your coloring aside, she has a nose VERY similar to yours, and her eyes twinkle like yours do :P That look on her face in her "after" shots is PRICELESS and looks *just* like yours in your blog pic :P She is a very lucky little girl to have a Mama like you :)

    That said, I teach in a school that allows kids to be themselves--so long as it doesn't cause a problem for anyone else. A friend of mine also teaches there and her 9 year old daughter (in my class) had BLUE streaks (multiple ones!) in her long, dark, and curly Puerto Rican hair--it really was cute. Mama is a ginger like you, Papa is pure Puerto Rican and babygirl looks NOTHING like Mama--now and again she'll get a look on her face that is totally her mom, but more often than not, people ask if Mom a stepmother because her daughter looks so little like her. It goes both ways :)

    I'm glad you and Marlie match :) You did good, Mom!

  9. From one purple lover to another, all I can say is "YOU GO Girls!" What a sweet way to handle the situation. Kinda jealous now, maybe I should do it too! Hugs!

  10. I definitely LIKE it!!!! I agree, it's just hair!!! And the bond something like this helps form between you is WAY more important than hair!


  11. I must admit, if I saw Marlie on the street, I very well have those judgy thoughts. But knowing the back story? I ABSOLUTELY think you did the right thing. What a great way to bond!

  12. I think this is absolutely Mah-velous!
    What a wonderful way to help her feel like she is even more "just like mama" at an age where the less tangible things are harder to grasp!

  13. Looks beautiful on both of you! And, what a loving idea to bridge the gap!

    Would you allow me to repost this blog post on the website Take a look at the site and let me know what you think. I think other moms would benefit from hearing about your creative idea!

    I would need a bio from you and a picture of you to use with the bio. Looking forward to hearing from you!

  14. I love it, Julie. And I agree -- just hair! That is a hair compromise I would feel really comfortable making, too. :)

  15. I think this is great - both in how it looks (yes, despite having reservations about chemicals on children, in theory!) and in the bond that it symbolizes and creates between you. Lovely.