Locks of Love
It is humbling when you discover that your six year old daughter is holier than you are.
My daughter, Sarah, has been stunning since she was born a bit over six years ago. What people can't as readily see is how beautiful her heart is.
We never cut her hair, and until yesterday, luxurious thick curly hair framed her face and cascaded down to her hips. Her hair was a show stopper, and we have a drawer full of hair doo dads that her mommy delighted in applying in numerous creative ways.
Truth be told, I had a love affair with her hair.
We are planning a special Jewish tradition in our household in a month, the "upsheerin" for our son Elijah, on his third birthday. We are an observant Jewish household so we don't cut the hair on our son until age three (as commanded in the Torah). On his third Hebrew birthday, we'll have a big simcha (party) and ceremonially cut his hair for the first time into a Jewish haircut for boys (peyos), along with the start of him wearing a kippot (headcovering) and tzizit (fringes) every day, and learning Torah.
So that my daughters would not feel left out, I broached the idea with Sarah and Elana (her five year old sister) of participating in the ritual by donating their hair to Locks of Love -- an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients out of donated hair.
Truthfully I knew that Elana, her sister, didn't have the required ten inches of hair to donate, but her hair was also long and beautiful so I offered the idea to both of them.
To my shock, they immediately went for it, more enthusiastically than their mother. Gazing at their exquisite hair, I wasn't sure I was ready to give it up. But my girls couldn't wait for the haircut appointment, and we had many discussions about sick children with cancer, and what a mitzvah (good deed) it was that they were doing, over the next few weeks.
The haircutting appointment was last night.
I was nervous. They were excited.
I chided myself for being so attached to something as superficial as hair. This would be the first haircut for both of them since their birth. We arrived at the haircutting salon and Sarah eagerly jumped into the barber's chair. The hair stylist pulled out a big ruler to measure the required ten inches.
Mom had visions of a nice shoulder length cut, but the ruler told otherwise. To achieve the required ten inches, Sarah would need to receive a much shorter haircut than planned. We're talking practically a military cut.
That was too much for me to consider. I was ready to abandon the idea entirely, to postpone the haircut until her hair had grown a few more inches, or to cut it to a reasonable length and not donate her hair to Locks of Love until it had grown back a year or two later.
Shame on me!
My daughter Sarah stared at herself in the mirror and said, "Cut it short. I want to donate my hair to the kids with cancer." I said to her, "Honey, are you really sure you want to do this? It's going to be really really really short. We can wait a few more months."
Sarah looked scared for a moment, and then with complete resolve, she said, "No, I want to do it now. Cut it off."
The hairdresser gathered her long locks into a ponytail, and with one snip, she removed most of Sarah's hair. Sarah's smile never wavered as she stared at the new impression in the mirror, and as the hairdresser shaped her remaining hair into a styled bob. I played nervously with the ponytail in my hands, feeling for the last time her long hair in my hands, and imagining another little sick girl and a distraught mom who would be so grateful for this gift.
Elana followed behind her sister with equal bravado and within an hour, I was staring at two cute little girls with very little hair and very big hearts.
When I woke my daughters Sarah and Elana up for school this morning, I felt a faint longing for the hair that used to hang all over their faces in the morning before we tamed it with a brush.
But mostly, what I felt was pride in my beautiful little girls who were able to make the right decision, before their mommy was.