The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Hair. Oh, That Thick, Beautiful, Curly, Knotted (!) Hair.

You can't necessarily tell from the photos but Miss Makeda has the most incredible, tightly spun (that part you can discern from photos), course, looooooooong ringlets.

They are beautiful.

And they can be a lot of work...if I don't keep on top of it all.

Especially in a dry dry climate such as the one in which we now live.

Have I mentioned how much I love it here? In this new climate...ah hem...province? The sun shines, the snow falls, then the sun shines again. It's cold but different cold. Not bone chilling. I was out in a sweater today with a scarf around my neck (in the snow at zero degrees). And, while many around me looked my way as though I...well...forgot my coat before leaving the house, truthfully I didn't. (And I wasn't planning on standing out in it for hours on end, either.) It's just a dry cold. And yes, there's a crack on my thumb as proof that the weather is horrifically dry. I've been fighting it going on three weeks now and after many attempts with different crazy wonderful moisturizing products and such, I've now resorted to what finally seems to be working: Lansinoh.

Yeah, eat your heart out.

Ben suggested I go to Lee Valley and get some cow utter type cream that apparently wood workers often use due to dry skin as a result of the job. So, I put on my thinking cap, (and also wanted to do anything to avoid going to Lee Valley - just not my kind of gig) and thought I'd wander downstairs, grab a tube left over from four years ago (also recently used to Lanolize some wool longies knit by a fantastically talented friend). Not only would I save time and money, the salvation of my sanity would also be in the mix. (I'm still navigating my way around the big big city, preferring to stay within the limits of our big city.)

You get the point: it's crazy dry here.

I digress.

I've always loved hair. Long hair, braids, creative styles, care, you name it and I've been fascinated...and able to successfully create and complete a lot of it on myself. But let's be honest, African hair is a whole other ball game. I read up a little, prior to and throughout, well, everything we've just journeyed through.

The theme which pervaded all the reading materials: moisturize. Keep it lubed. Don't wash too often. Saturate daily with quality product. Be kind.

And so always once, often two or three times daily Miss Makeda enjoys (ah hem? endures?) a hair routine.

Because of all the craziness in our life...which I don't see changing any time soon...I went with a company I knew I could count on. This mother has experience Ethiopian hair first hand, she's in Canada, and...well...she's a Mama. That's a fantastically deadly wonderful combo. I sought some "Whoa, there's a lot of choice what you would you recommend" advise from a couple of adoptive mamas...and here's what this Mama is loving right now.

Patty Cake Conditioner is fantastic during her bath and after applying it, I usually brush through those curls using my Tangle Teaser before rinsing. (This is when we see how long her hair really is...inches people! No kidding.)

I am loving Itsy Bitsy Spirals Baby Curl Moisturizer. It's easy to dribble on and seems to really get soaked well into her hair. It looks like oil but there's no real residue such as that which oil would leave. Her curls take on a shine which lasts until nearly nap time (at the end of which we often reapply).

However, often in the mornings as she sports her bed sheet lint I will spritz a bunch of this Curly Q Moisturizer/Detangler in order to avoid tears as I run my fingers through the fuzz. The sheen her hair takes on is to be envied! (Note: I do have a sleep cap but don't think she'd keep it on or appreciate the reason behind it so will wait until she's a little older.)

When I picked Makeda up in Ethiopia she was the only baby in the infant room with hair enough (or hair at all!) to braid/corn row, pony tail, or style in any which way. And I took heart in the fact that the nannies cared enough for these children - this child - that amidst all the diaper changing, sheet stripping, feeding, bottling (yes, I just gave that a tense), comforting, stimulating, and I'm sure a million other things, they made styling Makeda's hair a priority. I'm sure part of it for them was a treat. One nannie in particular mothered our child. And I recall the day after I had taken Makeda with me for good, we returned and I took her for a nap in the infant room. I handed her over but the tables had turned. I was now officially the mother. Twenty-four hours earlier this had not so much seemed the case. I was now the mother and so the nannie (through translation) who spoiled our daughter with touch and attention while doing her hair - and who undoubtedly took pride in it - now asked my permission. "May I braid her hair?". I was thrown a bit. Yet, for respect of the system I was also of course grateful.

I want to make Makeda's hair, (skin!) and quality of product a priority as did the nannies and orphanage in which she lived for so very many months. I am currently loving the 'baby afro' basic, quick, simple style which is constantly receiving complements. I know, however, as time goes on I will want to attempt new (time consuming!) styles.

And so, for now I will purchase quality materials with which to care for her outsides as we continue to seek to do our best to care for her insides...her loss, her attaching, her heritage, culture, personality and the like.

After Christmas, once the "to make, sew, knit, and create" list is accomplished, wrapped, and gifted, I will attempt this fantastically looking Hair Elixir.

I truly can't wait!


Gwen said...

I love the hair too! Yes, it's time consuming, expensive and a lot of work, but we find that it's a wonderful bonding time between me & Z. We both look forward to it!

You're so smart to start styling and detangling right away while Makeda is still so little -- it's a fact of life for black girls, and they just have to get used to it. My daughter Z spent about five years with her birth mom in their village, and she can sit still for HOURS... it's incredible. She's very matter-of-fact about her hair: it needs to get done, so she will sit still until it's finished. End of story. Even when I say, "It's been an hour -- should we take a break?" She just says, "No, let's stop when it's finished." I'm still amazed at her!

She tells me about her village in Wolayta where the women style the girls' hair (and each others') and how careful her birthmom was to ensure that her hair always looked konjo. It's of HUGE cultural importance, and I see it as a privilege to learn how to style black hair.

The only problem I have with the Tangle Teezer is getting it thoroughly cleaned after a long, product-laden styling session. But that thing is so awesome, if it ever breaks I will be ordering another one that same day!

Okay, why am I rambling on for so long? Sorry.... I guess it's been too long since one of our email exchanges! ;)

Katie said...

She is simply beautiful.

darci said...

cool!! you do all the work, I'll just copy you, lol!! :)