St. Baldrick's means more than just shaving your head

Shaving my baby’s head in solidarity and to raise money for pediatric cancer research, has changed my life in more ways than I imagined. It’s pretty remarkable all the thoughts and emotions that have raced through my mind in a mere 72 hours.

They say you can’t really judge someone, unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  Let’s not get crazy and pretend that I compare buzzing my child’s head, to battling Cancer. That would be ignorant.

What I can say is that my fare-skinned, blonde, baby, doesn’t look like he is just rocking a new, closely shaved hair-do. From afar he actually looks bald, which has sparked a much different sentiment than I had imagined. The rah-rahs for my little fundraising badass, are replaced with looks of pity. I can actually feel people’s sadness when they look at him, everywhere we go.

My son isn’t sick. He’s a very healthy, spunky, hilarious, zesty little goon. Except now, when people look at him, they don’t know that. All they see is big brown eyes, a mega-watt smile, and a bald head.


That head used to be covered in blonde curls: adorable, perfect, hard-to-part-with, curls.

We made the decision that his first real haircut would be to honor Donna, a precious little girl who’s life was taken far too soon. A little girl that we had no direct connection with, other than myself being a fan of her courageous, beautiful, intelligent, and witty mama: Mary Tyler Mom.

I’ve learned there are parts of motherhood that no one can articulate and there are parts no one would ever dare tell you even if they could find the words. Because somewhere, tucked deep inside the love for your child, lies  inexplicable fear.

Every headache, every time they say they have a tummy ache…it’s there.

Maybe I have known too many people who have had to face a life without their baby. Maybe I have read one too many stories of tragedy. I don’t know. What I do know: Is that if I let my fear see the light of day, I would be paralyzed.

I only allow this fear to feed into my emotions, when I look at a Mother of a sick child. Women that sit at their child’s bedside, putting on a brave face, keeping their babies happy, surrounding them with comfort and love. THAT is the work of some of the most courageous heroes on Earth.

It’s equal parts beautiful and terrifying.

I bet if you ask any one of these women where they find the strength, they would modestly tell you that you could do the same. And if you are anything like me, you would stare in awe and not believe them for a second.

Since Saturday, when someone stares at my son’s bald head with pity, I quickly tell them “he shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s”. I want to free them from their moment of sadness. I can also free myself from any perception of prowess, that I have no business being associated with.

I haven’t spent sleepless nights taking temperatures and praying for no fever. I don’t rub anyone’s back as chemo wreaks havoc on a little tummy. I didn’t have to watch my little one be wheeled into surgery. I didn’t do any of those things. I am not a hero. They are.

I am just a mother of a little boy that did a remarkable thing, in the name of Donna’s Good Things.

For the next few weeks, until the hair on my baby’s head has grown to a point where it no longer peaks curiosity: I will be honored to be associated with such fortitude….even for a moment.

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