I find myself measuring my success at parenting Jacket by the healthiness of her hair. As it grows long and strong, I feel pretty dang proud. Yesterday however, I felt like a total failure because I had to cut a huge chunk of matted mess out. It was completely my fault, I skipped a night of conditioner. I didn’t think it would matter but apparently it was enough to create a monster dreadlock.
The hair clump felt like a wad of bubble gum. It has been difficult to comb-out parts of her hair before but nothing like this. I went to all of the ‘untangle matted hair’ websites and tried all of the remedies to no avail. Even now with the piece cut out and sitting on the table it’s still impossible to pull any strands of hair out.
Last night I showed the swatch of hair to Teasha, the babysitter, like a guilty puppy brings over a chewed-up shoe. She reassured me that it just happens sometimes and that the gaping hole in the back of Jacket’s hair will go completely unnoticed.
In thinking about how much i scrutinize my capacity as a foster parent through the outcome of Jacket’s hair, I can see that I did the same with Eaglet’s weight. I was hellbent on making sure that 4-pound baby gained weight on my watch. So much so that after she gained 2 pounds (50% of her body weight at the time) in one week her pediatrician suggested that I chill out a bit with the round-the-clock feedings.
With Snap, my mental health became my unintended measurement of success as I pretty much thought I was losing my mind. If I could laugh at a youtube video or get caught-up in gossiping on the phone with a friend then I could reassure myself that I might not be going insane. Being alone with a pissed-off crack-baby by night and working 3 jobs by day could knock even the most stable person off balance. And knowing this made the “what-the-hell-do-i-think-i’m-doing?!” tape play even louder in my head.
I suppose what I’m trying to convince myself of here is that my obsession with Jacket’s hair is actually progress for me- but it’s still a misplaced measure of aptitude…
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