I grew up with mostly with my mother, and she had silky waves that hugged her back. Sometimes when she dyed it red, her locks swam in a scarlet silk in Miami's salt waters. Although she mostly kept her hair tied in on thick braid, or in a tight bun, sometimes I was able to see all of its glory spiraling and waving.
Her hair is curly, although her curls hang much looser than mine. My hair took on a mix of textures, but my hair is mostly coily and thick. Her and I shared the same wild hair growth -- I remember vividly having my hair tickle my lower back in a 90s-looking blow out when I was a little girl.
But my hair suffered a lot of damage. I had hair relaxers since I was very young, and every inch of new growth was responded with a heavy foot on the gas pedal to the nearest drugstore for the creamy crack (aka hair relaxer). After a few minutes of burning and itching, my hair was silky, almost like my mother's when it was dipped into the summer sea. But my hair was thinning, breaking, and suffering.
I could remember in high school, I still hadn't learned how to manage my hair, and I don't think my mom knew how either. Sometimes my hair would lock unintentionally into dreads. I just didn't know how to use a comb. I did all the wrong things -- I combed my hair when it was dry. I added so much hair gel, it could break someone's curious fingers. I'd also shampoo my hair almost everyday, wondering why my hair was so brittle and dehydrated.
And then there came the heat damage. During college I realized how much easier it was to manage the curly creature on my head by flat ironing my hair every single day. The effort I put in for my hair was half-assed, but at least I didn't look like I did when I was in high school.
My hair journey was more like a hair nightmare. My hair kept thinning, and even though I hardly cut my hair, I wondered why it got so short.
And then I went natural for a year. A whole year. And it was then I learned how to truly take care of my hair. I learned about co-washing. I learned about holding back the shampoos, the heat, and the color. I learned the power of combing my hair when it was wet and moisturized. I learned that my hair was pretty curly, too. I learned how that even though I did decide to use a hair texturizer after my brief natural hair journey, I realized it didn't need to be slick, thin, and bone-straight.
I learned that I can space out my relaxer every 5-6 months, instead of slapping the fire on my scalp every 6 weeks.
I also learned that I should have paid attention to my mother's treatment to her hair.
Turns out, she knew a thing-or-two about hair, even though our textures were different. She used protective hairstyles like buns and braids. Although she dabbled in hair relaxers, she used them maybe once a year. She also hardly ever added heat to her hair, unless it was for a very special occasion. She didn't have a hefty list of hair products -- she just used a few things that worked for her.
Growing up mixed proved to be a struggle when it came to hair, because my mother was sort of going in blind, as I was to my own hair.