No More Tangles

If you are new… I’m a special needs mom that DOES NOT have it all figured out.  Today I’m talking about something trivial for my youngest…because some times I need to stop and talk about something silly – a break from the bile reflux, IEP’s, fights with health insurance, sleep disorders, wheelchair orders that keep getting pushed back for years etc.   So let’s put the tiny violins away (although I can’t guarantee that they won’t pop out at some point here…you just never know).  For now, let’s just talk about hair.


After 3 years of silly side cart drama over hair, I ask: What would bring a mother to use her son’s clippers on her 3-year-old girl’s hair?

This has been a journey of its own, through tangles and braids and hair ties and detangler and product and leave-in-conditioner, and much more.

And it’s all about knots.

knot: A compact intersection of interlaced material, such as cord, ribbon, or rope.

The girl, she twirls.  While she sucks 3 fingers on her left hand, she twirls her hair with the right.  And her hair?  It seems to be just the right mix of curly-wavy-dry-thin to make some knock out dreads, mostly on the right side of her head, meaning she pretty much only grows hair on one side.

Problem is…her fingers get stuck.  She’s woken us in the night with purple fingers stuck in her hair.

Multiple times a day, I cut and untangle knots like these.

Today I took my boy’s clippers to her hair.  In July, last summer, I came to this very same point, and I suppose I thought I was done with the dilemma.

Last summer her hair looked like this:

After I’d cut out a dozens of the knots, and tried every product I could get my hand on… I got out the scissors and decided to even things up.


So that was last year.

{It wasn’t long after this that the fed Ex guy referred to her as a “dude.”  I decided at that point to opt out of gender confusion.  Ears were pierced the next week.}

This year, back to square one.

The habit has continued.

This summer, I had an idea.  I was just crazy enough to wonder if I could do some box braids and extensions.  So, I asked around and called around.  I stuck my toes in a new pond. I figured out that for thin hair you need to add thickness to braid like that…but the added weight on the scalp, not easy.  And my girl, she sometimes yanks her own knots out…and not knots of 5 strands of hair…but LARGE clumps…so the braids might just turn into some extra bald spots….and there was also the bad-mom-factor.  (I pretty much flipped out the lady at the hair supply store telling her my idea.  (another sign)  So I bought MORE product and decided to play with her hair and figure out what we could do

So, I literally had some new tricks and I put them in a bag…so my portable hair salon could stay far out of wild-woman Kate’s reach.

Truth be told, no amount of product could make Kate’s hair tangle-proof!

3 years into this, I scratched my head and wondered why I’d never tried oodles of hair ties.  4 pony tails wasn’t knot-proof, so then we tried 8, then 11, then 13…and honestly I don’t know what number we settled on.

DSC01424 DSC01507

It almost worked.

But the girl, no matter the number…she still could free up enough hair to knot it.

And I found some knotted-clumps of hair (roots and all) in her room that made my stomach turn…so out came the clippers…again.


The end result looked like this.  I tried to leave her something on the top.


And wouldn’t you know.  While I type this, she comes to me with something in her hand…

she’s freed up another bit…enough to make a tangle, and she’s taken care of her own problem.

I look down at the clump she hands me.  Dozens of hairs tangled, roots and all… My stomach turns.

I suppose I’ll need to set the clippers to a lower setting, grease up her hair some more, try something…anything.

The reality is that I feel like I can’t keep living in a world of tangles!  I want to do something to be forever rid of the inconvenient, stomach turning knots.

And here I was…thinking I could manage to talk about a minor and comical hair dilemma!!!  This knot in my hand – it represents much more.  There are too many tangles in this life!

It was just last week when I had this same stomach turning feeling.  It didn’t sink in until a bit later.  As I shut the front door and said goodbye to our sweet case manager, something in me wanted to barricade the thing…to seal the thing against all of our NEEDS.

And to be clear I DO NOT mean the beautiful people that are in our life as a result of those needs…they are our SAVING GRACE…but to just be able to just be nuclear and not need so so so very much to live each day.  And as I say it, I know I’m foolish.  I know I’m wrong, but I feel it deep in me…the desire to be forever done with them – the knots – the needs.

The case manager had sat at our kitchen counter with me while I filled out paperwork for health insurance and nursing.  A couple pages in, #3 (my tangler) disappeared, only to re-emerge with 15 tiny hair ties up and down her arms. {Yes, she looked like a scary Michelin man!}  I quickly pulled them off and gave a quick speech on circulation, and said a split second prayer about her impressions of my parenting…  Then back to the paper. I worked my way through what looked like a mortgage, only it wasn’t a mortgage.  The paperwork was for my son’s health insurance and nursing help.

I outlined every detail of how we change his diapers, medications, behaviors, equipment, the paraesophageal hernia, the way that we manually extract air from his stomach through his tube…it was far more draining than a mortgage.  By the time I was done, I couldn’t spell basic words correctly…and even drove on the wrong side of the road that night.  {Can you say, yikes!}  It wasn’t just the paperwork.  It was the idea of trying to pour my life into a form, so that someone at a desk 100’s of miles from us might be informed enough to know our need…and the fact that we have these things…these needs.

Needs. They aren’t always simple to spell out…especially when it feel that you swim in an ocean of them.   And that form…it wasn’t just one knot, one tangle.  They pile high and in a stupid moment I just want no more.

No more health insurance, no more paperwork, no more case managers, no more nursing charts, no more kinks in billing, no more doctors appointments, no more meds, no more  adult diapers, no more wheelchair parts…none. of. it.  I want to crawl in a hole and forget about tangles of all kinds.  I don’t want to have needs.  I want simple, and I just want to hold my kids tight and need nothing.

And there it is – no matter how much I want it – my tangle free world does not and cannot exist.  I will never be ahead of the game enough…the no-tangles formula does not exist.  Things in this world twist and turn and twirl and tangle…no matter what solution you’ve put in place to prevent the knots.  And the knots, the make us need – need help.

No man, no woman, is, or ever will be, an island.

I sit here craving my independence while I have a benevolent heavenly Father in the wings just longing for me to ask.  And I know it.  I know it although (to be honest) I don’t always love it – I know that I must work through the tangles to learn anything worth knowing.  Education born of living breathing action is worth far more than what can be memorized out of any text book.  I don’t want the tangles, but it in the tangles that I learn how to really live.

It seeps into my bones…

“My [God’s] power is made perfect in weakness.” –  2 Corinthians 12:9

I’m only strong in my dependent state.

Lord give me the strength to deal with more tangles, more stacks of paperwork (and some tangle free days when you know I need the respite!).  Things that I cannot bear, YOU CAN.  And if it’s all for the purpose of learning the strength of being carried in your arms, let it be!

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” –Psalm 84:10

update: A day after writing this I am getting some sweet respite and taking a step back to be so thankful that although it’s no slick process – living in the tangles, with no easy answers and our share of fights to see needs met – we are so incredibly blessed to have:

  • needs met
  • a Father that cares for us
  • a whole beautiful network of people 
  • hallucinations of being our own island stripped away, we find comfort in our dependent state and Whom we depend upon – Abba

4 thoughts on “No More Tangles

  1. m, this is simply an amazing post. I don’t even know where to start. Lemonade, please? On my porch? For now I will say I am with you, tangles, clippers, health insurance, military assignments and all. I am on your team and so very blessed to be here. Love you.

    • Thanks Kate! You don’t have to have actually met in person to be heart-friends…you know, like us girls that spill our hugs and give each other virtual hugs!! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Dance | A Rearranged Life

  3. Pingback: To Cast Whatever Comes | A Rearranged Life

if you'd like to email, you may do so at arearrangedlife at gmail dot com

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: