The Rockwood Files: Hair chair therapy

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

You know how people say you shouldn’t make big decisions after highly emotional events? Because you might not be thinking clearly? Or it might be a knee-jerk reaction you’re hoping will distract you from the highly emotional event?

Well, I didn’t listen to those people.

Here’s how it happened. Last month, we moved our middle kid to college. I was hoping my experience moving our oldest kid to college two years ago would help take the sting out of it.

It did not.

Moving a kid to college is like taking your puppy on a long car trip – all the way to Michigan this time – then leaving him in a ditch and driving home without him. For the 12 hours it takes to get home, you keep glancing in the backseat while thinking “Did we really just leave our puppy in another state and drive away?”

Now, keep in mind that the puppy in this situation is an 18-year-old son who is more than happy to go have unsupervised adventures. And the ditch in this scenario is a sprawling college campus costing us thousands in room and board fees.

But the emotional impact on a parent is roughly the same. The person in that man-sized body is still a baby in my heart. And the cumulative blow of having both our sons away at college knocked the wind out of me.

So, I did what any rational woman in an emotional crisis would do. I scheduled an emergency appointment with my hairstylist.

Stylist: “So, what do we want to do with your hair today?”

Me: “Listen, I know I’ve considered this before and then backed out. But this time I’m serious. Both my boys have moved away. I miss them, and I’m sad. I need you to give me bangs and make me feel better.”

She nodded sympathetically. This wasn’t the first time she’d been confronted by a woman using a haircut as a coping mechanism. I’m surprised she doesn’t make clients sign waivers in these situations.

Stylist: “I think it’ll be really cute, but… are you sure?”

Me: “I’m sure. I’m ready. I’ve thought it through. Look, I even downloaded pictures of bangs I like. See?”

Stylist (Looking over my shoulder at the celebrity haircuts on my phone screen): “Okay, here we go.”

Then she started her work, applying colored goop to my graying roots and adding foils to brighten the hair around my face. She washed, rinsed, cut, and performed some secret stylist sorcery and – presto – I’m now a middle-aged woman with a row of airy blonde bangs grazing my eyebrows.

As you may have heard, most women who get bangs on a whim – or, God forbid, cut their own bangs – end up regretting it. But not me. Not only did I need a visual change to reflect all the changes in our family life, I also realized bangs would be much cheaper than Botox.

In what can only be called cruel and unusual timing, a whole herd of worry lines showed up on my forehead days after my boys moved away. Maybe the wrinkles were there all along and I was just too busy raising humans to notice. But suddenly I have the forehead of a Basset Hound – minus the cute droopy ears to go with it. Now at least I can shield innocent bystanders from this tragic forehead fallout with the help of my new strategically placed bangs.

I feel good about the whole thing because my friend Shannon says the new anti-aging bangs look good. And she’s the friend I made a pact with years ago that we would always tell each other the truth, no matter how brutal, but especially in hair-related cases. The stakes are just too high for a white lie.

So, it turns out that sometimes you can make a big decision after an emotional event. It doesn’t have to be a disaster. And it might even make you happy.

Should we get a puppy next?

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at Her book is available on Amazon.