Friday, January 9, 2009

The Shorn Identity

When Anna was three months old I quit my job to stay home with her. That was two years and three months ago. I started growing my beard the day I quit my job.

I never let it get to long. It got shaggy now and then, but 5 minutes with a scissors and a razor took care of that.

It looked pretty good from the front.

But it never really did fill in.

And from certain angles it just looked plain creepy.

Seriously, isn't that the grossest photo you've ever seen?

And now Liam is due to arrive soon and I've gone and shaved it all off.

It's my birthday present to him. You gotta figure a newborn, someone who has known nothing except for the smoothness and fluidity of the uterus for these last nine months, would probably rather not have a scratchy hairy face kissing his cheeks over and over again.

I brought Anna to the bathroom with me and let her watch me shave it off. She was pretty freaked out, but not in a scared way, just in a "I've never seen this man in my life" way. She got used to it pretty quickly. I let her put lotion on the places where hair used to be.

Today I'm watching a couple friends' one year old and Anna told her, "Look at daddy, Ella! It looks funny! Daddy's face is funny!"

I said, "Daddy's face is going to be like this for a long time, Anna. You'd better get used to it."

"Yeah," she said, "Liam will like it."

I don't know if I'll grow the hair back again. I do know that I miss it already. I've forgotten what my face looked like without hair, and I have to say I like it better with. I feel significantly less cool without the beard. Not that being cool is something I tend to concern myself with ... usually.

But it also feels really nice to be able to wash my whole face now and not have to scrub my beard. And kissing my wife, daughter (and soon-to-be son) is ten times better without hair.

So, happy early birthday Liam, from your uncool dad.


Hase said...

Seriously, isn't that the grossest photo you've ever seen?

Er..... yes, I agree ;-)

Thank you for sharing these touching and honest thoughts with us. It's very refreshing to read. And you look very handsome without the beard!!

I have one more question actually. Does Anna eat only vegan food as well? No animal products whatsoever? She seems such a happy and healthy girl, it's great.

Al said...

Well thank you.

And yes, Anna has eaten vegan ever since conception.

There are two small exceptions. We had a free sample of soy formula that we gave her twice total when my wife was concerned that her milk supply wasn't enough to meed Anna's nursing demands. The DHA in that formula was from lanolin which comes from sheep. Vegan soy formula is not available in the States. I've only heard of one brand of vegan formula, only available overseas (where you are, right?).

And once she grabbed another kid's goldfish cracker and ate it. They have milk in them.

But apart from that, she's had a completely vegan diet. And yeah, she's really healthy. Hardly ever been sick. Developmentally on track as far as physical measurements are concerned and ahead of the curve mentally.

I'm also a stay-at-home dad. So her not going to daycare probably has something to do with her good health and smarts as well. But if anyone asks, I give all the credit to her vegan diet.

Hase said...

Wow, that's awesome, Al! I think you are doing a great job!
I don't have kids myself, but if I had, I couldn't imagine giving them non-vegan food either....
Don't you get to hear a lot of unqualified comments from non-vegan people around you? I know I would if I fed a child in a vegan way....
But then Anna's good health is the best prove that you can't be all that wrong, isn't it?!
I am German, by the way, but I live in France.

Hase said...

I forgot to mention, my man and I have set up a vegan blog as well, it's all about our newly discovered veganism. It's all in German, so I don't know if you understand it, but maybe you still want to have a look?

DJ said...

MY husband has a beard and is in the middle of contemplating a handlebar moustache - but I think your gesture to Liam - soft face to soft face - is very noble and sweet!

Isil Simsek said...

I agree with DJ.It's very very sweet of you.

emilythehopeless said...

great idea to shave!
and good luck with the birth of your son!

we are planning on adopting in the next few years, we are vegan.. but clueless on how to properly raise & feed a vegan child.. i plan on reading your blog from your first post to get clues. and i have a million questions. i realize you are a bit busy at the moment.. but if you ever have time to let me pick your brain i would really appreciate it. no pressure and no rush.. good luck and congratulations! :D

Hase said...

I agree with emilythehopeless - you blog is awesome, I'm a fan!! And I am definitely going to read it all from the beginning, given that I have discovered it only recently.

There is one more thing I would like to know: does Anna take any vitamin B12-supplements since her birth?

Kris said...

I know I'm in the minority here, but I will miss your beard. I thought you wore it really well and that it complemented your face. However, I understand your beard issues (I go through them myself occasionally)and respect your decision. Just imagine when Liam looks back at your "before" pictures.

That said, the photo of your random, furry organic lump is creepy.

Al said...

Thank you all.

Hase, I have some awesome friends and family, so no, I don't get a lot of hassle. And you're right. One look at Anna and pretty much any criticisms melt away.

Anna breast fed for the first two years of her life. She got B12 from breast milk then. At about a year to a year and a half she started to wean and drink less and less. At this point we started to supplement with B12 drops. Her face lights up now whenever the dropper comes out. It's funny. She also drinks soy milk fortified with B12 and I put fortified nutritional yeast in a lot of dishes I cook.

We also give her a DHA supplement, just to cover our bases. My guess is she gets more DHA than non-vegan kids because of those supplements.

Al said...

Emily, my brain is always open for the picking. Just sent me an email via my profile page ( whenever.

Your blog has been in my feed reader for about a year now. I don't think I've ever commented, and truth be told, I've probably read 1/100th of what you've written (I'm horrible at staying up to date with my reader and I'm subscribed to hundreds of vegan blogs, so I end up clicking "mark all as read" more than I should). I can't remember where I first saw a link to your page, but I want to say it was on the Vegan Freaks forum? If so, I probably don't need to tell you that the Parenting section of that forum is great. I found a lot of support and ideas there. It's been ages since I've visited the forum (so long that they've locked my account ... whoops), but I'd imagine there are still plenty of great people hanging out there.

At any rate, yes, feel free to pick my brain.