And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Well, this is a challenge. Trying to find a moment of happiness to write about during a pandemic, and among so much chaos and panic. But you know what? Look around and you’ll find it. Look close.

My daughter Olivia has been thinking about dying her hair for some time. First, she wanted pink. Then purple. Then teal. Then navy blue. The issue is that Olivia’s natural hair is very, very dark, like her father’s, and to achieve those vibrant colors, the hair has to be bleached.

One day, she was in the salon chair, getting a haircut, and I was waiting for her. A young woman came in, her hair just looking…wrecked. There’s no other word for it. It looked like it was electrocuted and frazzled and left to die. I saw Olivia eyeing her as she explained to the hair stylist that her sister tried to bleach her hair so that it would take color.

The end result: buzz cut. So the hair could grow back.

I don’t think anyone in the salon looked anything but horrified. Olivia decided pink or purple or teal or navy blue hair was not worth possibly looking like that.

She bought a dye from a teenage-type store that was supposed to be for dark hair. It was supposed to be purple. And it was – but only on her scalp.

Then she looked at the hair dyes sold in grocery stores and drug stores. She found one that was red. MY color red. And it was for dark hair. She decided to try it, but before she bought it, she texted me. “Mama,” she said, “would you mind if we had the same hair color?”

It made me laugh. Why would I mind? It kinda made me happy. She said, “Well, I just wanted to make sure.”

I helped her dye it this weekend. And it looks amazing.

That night, I was out shopping for some new jeans. Believe it or not, my dog ate mine. While poking around, I found a sweatshirt on clearance. It had rainbow bands around the upper arms, and in capital rainbow letters across the chest, it said, SERIOUSLY?

This is one of Olivia’s most-repeated phrases. And she loves rainbow-anything. So I plucked it off the rack. Then I turned around and on another rack, a rack with my current size, there was another one. Same color, Same rainbows. Same SERIOUSLY?

My oft-repeated phrase isn’t “Seriously?” It’s “Really?” But still. I liked it. Then I looked at hers, already draped over my arm. And I looked at what could be mine, still on the rack.

Mama, would you mind if we had the same hair color?

Would she mind if we had the same shirt?

I remembered back to being nineteen. I would never, ever, EVER have wanted to wear the same clothes as my mother. I didn’t want to wear the clothes my mother wanted me to wear. One of the first things I did when I arrived at the University of Wisconsin – Madison for my freshman year was to hop a bus to East Towne Mall, run into The Gap and buy a pair of Levis. I was never allowed to wear Levis before. I wasn’t allowed much in the way of jeans. My mother was a firm believer in polyester.

Oh, those Levis. I gasped at the price. But I’d been working hard as a kennelworker at the Waukesha Humane Society for two years and I’d socked away every single cent I made for college. I bought the jeans. And I wore them until they were nothing but denim raggedy strands. And then I bought more.

But this shirt. Would Olivia mind?

I bought it and brought both home, along with my new jeans, two sizes down, thank you very much. I showed Olivia hers first. “Oh!” she said. “I love it! It’s perfect!”

Then I pulled out mine. “I bought the same one for me,” I said. “I like it too. I hope you don’t mind. I’ll always let you know when I’m going to wear it, so we don’t –“

“OH!” she said, and clapped. “Seriously? Maybe we can twin!”


Before my newly red-headed daughter drove back to college that night, she said to me, “So what day should we each wear the shirt? Thursday, when I come home? Friday?”

It’s on the calendar. Friday.

I think we all look for signs that we’ve been good parents. Some look at their kids’ accomplishments. Some look at grades, at scholarships, at job choices. Some look at how often those kids visit or call or email.

I’ve been looking at that shirt all week and dreaming of Friday.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Livvy, newly red-headed.
Wearing the shirts. I have no idea why I’m looking up.


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