LD has crazy hair. I don’t even know where he gets it from. It’s fine, like mine, but curly. Little ringlets appear at the back of his head when he’s been sleeping. Sweaty like his father, it seems. So, it’s crazy hair and getting long but I love long hair on little boys and secretly, I love when people mistake him for a girl because he’s just so gosh darn purty! So I’ve been hesitant to get it cut. But then I’m agitated by the blank page in the memory book where his first little lock of hair should go. Add in the fact that the kid couldn’t see through his fringe and I finally caved and took him to the hairdresser.
“Strictly the fringe only!” I tell them on arrival. LD sits on my lap reluctantly and squirms quite deliberately and then objects very violently as six pairs of hands (mine, B’s and another hairdresser’s) attempt to hold the little man still as the cutting commences. Apparently scissors coming directly at your eyeball level is confronting. Whatever, we’re not about to raise a sissy! And then it’s over – dramatic but blessedly brief. If B hadn’t been getting his hair cut too we would have been out of there – without the keepsake lock! I quickly scanned the floor under the chair we’d been sitting in and found a snip of hair that matched the colour of LD’s and quickly stuffed it in my purse – without a proper receptacle, I decided the zippered coin pouch was the safest place and then promptly forgot about it.
Weeks later I suddenly remembered I had yet to remove the hair from my purse. I turned that bloody thing inside out and couldn’t even find a cat hair in there – which is preposterous because god knows they’re everywhere else in this house. At some point, I have paid for a litre of milk with a two dollar coin, a fifty cent piece and golden strands of virgin hair cut from my beloved baby son’s head. Great! So much for marking the occasion. And so what to do now? Keep the hair from his second cut? Hardly momentous. Just lop off one of those sweaty curls when he wakes from his next nap? I don’t know. But meanwhile, that blank page in LD’s memory book continues to taunt me.
It gets me thinking. I’m a serious hoarder. A pack rat. I keep everything – including, as I discovered while rifling through the change table drawer, a piece of umbilical cord. A sweet lock of baby hair – yes, it’s within the realms of normal. But a shriveled up piece of skin? Who is going to want that? Will it be passed down to LD’s son and his son after that? How long can one presume umbilical cord might last? Would it be better stored in the freezer? And what about the swing tag from one of his first outfits? Note – not the first outfit, just one of them. Important? Memorable? Clearly.
This ability to attach meaning to anything and everything is problematic for a number of reasons. It’s troubling that LD is not yet two years old and I have already amassed untold quantities of sentimental keepsakage. The trouble is set to double (maybe treble) with the arrival of more tiny people. At some point, space will become an issue. And then who knows if my kids will inherit my sentimental streak? For every person who delights over their lovingly preserved first tooth, there are those who are, at best, indifferent, at worst, utterly repulsed by their DNA collection.
And I can’t forget the horror in my friend’s eyes as she described how the mother of her new boyfriend proudly displayed the boxes and boxes of baby clothes, school awards, sports ribbons and such that she still kept some 27 years later. Will I be lovingly folding and refolding my son’s size 000 wardrobe in twenty years time? Sniffing them for a trace of babyhood lost? Oh hell no, I am not going to be THAT woman.
It’s time to get brutal. The first tissue my son ever sneezed on does not a keepsake make. So I’m going to start chucking stuff. Starting with that manky umbilical cord. Soon.
So what has motherhood taught me today? – Obsessive keepsaking is more indicative of something lost – namely your sentimental mind.