Can we pretend it is three weeks ago? Can we just completely cut the last three weeks out of the calendar and pretend that I haven’t missed days and days (and weeks!) of blogging?
They’ve been good weeks, I can assure you of that! Busy and full of the sort of moments that consume an ordinary life. But full of other moments, too. Moments that take this Mama’s breath away and fill me with pride.
Like this. See this?
That’s B, as seen from behind, her hair somewhat tamed into a ponytail. Her hair has grown a lot in the past two years. But that photo is the last you’ll see of that ponytail. Snip snip and it’s gone! With the hot summer weather arriving in full force, it was time to shear off the long, heavy, hot hair and go with something light and summery. It’s been a long time coming — almost two years of waiting before B and I had hair that was long enough to cut off, and boy did it feel good to finally say goodbye!
Wait… what? I can hear you thinking it: they waited two years between haircuts?
It’s true. We waited two years to cut our hair, both B and I, and finally hacked it all off a couple of weeks ago. Why? Well, quite simply, because a dear friend of ours and her daughters decided to change the world, and so they set about doing just that. They did it three years in a row, in fact, and we joined in for year two. It was amazing. It was inspiring. And… it was tremendous fun.
This year, they decided to move on to other things, but the funny thing about trying to change the world is that once you’ve opened people’s eyes and raised awareness about an issue and inspired people to action around an issue, you can’t undo it. It sort of lives on without you.
When Sharon and her 7 year old daughter started the Catherine’s Pretty Ponytails campaign, collecting ponytails for wigs for cancer patients and raising funds for the Canadian Cancer Society, they had no idea it would grow as big as it did. They intended it to be a simple mother-daughter thing at first, but it grew and grew and grew — as good ideas do — and in the end, hundreds of people got involved.
Over three years, with all three of her girls involved along with many of their friends and neighbours and even complete strangers, they collected over two hundred ponytails to be made into wigs.
What’s more, they collected thousands of dollars. Thousands. Many thousands. $27,434 to be precise.
This year, they aren’t running the campaign, but people keep calling. People keep donating their ponytails. And people who before wouldn’t have thought twice about leaving their locks on the floor of the hair salon to be swept into a pile destined for the landfill, they’re carefully preparing and saving their ponytails instead.
After being a small part of Catherine’s Pretty Ponytails three years in a row, and donating my own hair year two (and B donated hers, too), the thought of cutting my hair off just because it was long felt like a waste. Somewhere, someone undergoing medical treatments has lost their hair and with it, their sense that they are normal. Somewhere, someone who has finished their cancer treatments has discovered that, despite what you would think, the hair you’ve lost doesn’t always come back. And somewhere, some child with cancer is watching their mother sob as they finger the clumps of hair on the pillow that used to be on a treasured little head and they are wondering if they’ll ever get their child back again or if this is just the start of the end. Because sometimes, it is.
A wig can help.
It can’t cure cancer, but it can cure the loss of self-esteem that comes with feeling like a hairless freak in a hairy world. It can’t cure cancer, but it can cure the feeling that your life is irreparably broken. It can’t cure cancer, but it can bring comfort. It can bring confidence. It can bring hope.
And so, B and I danced our way into the hair salon and for the second time in my life, I had the distinct joy of watching my baby girl gift a part of herself to someone she doesn’t know and will never meet. She did it without prompting – I never asked her to, I merely told her I was going to and let her make up her own mind. But the funny thing is that once a child knows that they have the power to change the world, they like to keep on trying to change it.
Through Catherine’s Pretty Ponytails, B learned first hand that changing the world, even just a small part of it, is well within her capabilities. And so we waited patiently, growing out our hair, measuring it carefully to make sure we had enough so that we could do this:
As a Mama, there is nothing quite like watching your child’s expression turn to one of wonder and pride and joy as she thrills in the knowledge that she has done something important. That she has made a difference.
B changed the world last week, for the second time in her life, and she’s proud of it, and just a little bit in awe too. As her Mama, I’m just a little bit in awe too.