Cross Cultural Family

Our Curl Journey – Hair, Heart and Identity

One of the best parts of being a parent is that I can fix things. Like a caped crusader I can kiss a boo boo, find a lost blankie, provide comforting arms when their scared. But I’m an extremely limited super hero. There are so many moments I won’t be able to rescue them from.  I’ve been parenting long enough to know fixing everything isn’t my primary job. That doesn’t mean I don’t try.

It was the third scariest moment of my life. Standing in an ethnic hair store, watching a tear roll down my daughter’s tender face as she realizes that this is her reality. It was a simple request. “I want to swim and then be able to play, not all this complicated hair routine.” My daughter and I don’t have the same hair journey. Her gentle curls are fine like mine but curly like her Chadian father’s. All our affection for natural hair and loving your curls she still won’t be able to jump out of the pool and run into her life without thought, planning and hours spent “doing hair.” I have a college degree and years spent in Africa. I knew when I needed help.

I’m thankful for the way our family represents the beauty of God’s creation in each of us. I’m thankful for the puzzled looks that children give us and for their innocent questions. Learning to ask what seems like a simply question has been the hardest hurdle for me to cross.

The good news is hair is the center of community for much of our world. I hope someday she’ll be able to appreciate the hours of laughter she’s spent with wise woman lovingly bringing her hair to life. I’m thankful for the bond it’s created in us as we’ve braided, combed, curled, nourished and nurtured her sweet tresses.

By the grace of God and some miracle in his design my sweet daughter was born bi-racial when the Natural Hair Movement began. Women of all ages began educating themselves and reaffirming their commitment to their curls. Multi-ethnic hair products have become available at Target today. The internet offers women of all colors instructional videos, opinion and product like never before. I’m so thankful for the education I’ve received from these women who will never know how much they ministered to me and terrified me. If you’ve never been to an braiding salon or an ethnic hair store the Saturday before Easter than you have no idea the effort, time and expense so many of our beautiful sisters have spent on their Sabbath tresses.

Natural hair, it can be overwhelming, messy, imperfect and expensive but the look of confidence in her eyes when we get it right is priceless. The help I’ve received has not only helped us learn about hair but also given us a place in a beautiful community with members being added every day.  Our repertoire has grown from simple twists or braids to crochet styles and faux dreads. Afro puffs still make my heart go soft and I love the auntie that gave her blue box braids this summer with an affection only a white mama can understand.

These days it’s special watching her grow and care for her hair on her own. But I still love separating the curls with my fingers, massaging conditioner into the root myself. Each style becomes a mother’s prayer. It’s a prayer for peace, for beauty, for strength.

A prayer she finds her own voice in this world and delights in her unique expression of God’s glory.

From my heart to yours. . .

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The child of missionary parents, writing became a natural was to process my adventures across the world.

Ndjerareou means 'he who builds the road in Ngambai, Nate's tribal language spoken in Chad, Africa.

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