How I Learned to Stop Shaving (book excerpt)

I run with a certain crowd, those with nice looking hair, cars sporting window stickers, and athletic pants that would imply a lot of athleticism.  I don’t think this is the case.  It’s not that the stay-at-home mothers that I see aren’t fit, they mostly are. It’s that I never hear them talking about yoga.  They talk about their haircuts, the things those car stickers represent, and the rainforest that sacrificed itself to provide paper for Friday crafts at school.  

We talk about making dinner, doing chores, and what’s new at the public library or YMCA, but even in those conversations we never talk about yoga.  I like yoga, I could imagine myself getting into yoga.  After all this non-talk about yoga, I realized that yoga pants aren’t about doing yoga as much as they are about wearing pants.  

One of the perks of being a stay at home parent is the uniform. If I wear jeans and anything buttoned I feel formal.  Polo shirts and Levi’s are too fancy.   It may not make sense, but for a long time I resisted this.  I used to dress up when going to toddler story time at the library or taking  my kids to the grocery store.  I didn’t want to accept what yoga pants represented, whatever that was.  

I thought wearing yoga pants was basically like wearing pajamas.  The only difference being a bit of elastic material and a few less oatmeals stains.   I was wrong because deep down inside, I wanted yoga pants.

I didn’t actually want yoga pants, but I wanted what they represented. A cool, casual, comfortable way to be good looking.  If anyone asked about my yoga I could say, “I’m not yogaing today, I had a big yogi session yesterday.”  

I was envious and needed an outlet. I found one, not by looking at others, but looking at myself.

Not shaving is my yoga pants.   

“When’s the last time you shaved?” my wife asked.  At our house this isn’t so much a question as a suggestion.  

“I don’t know.” I replied, really not knowing. Not having to shave for a job, I often don’t. I walk around with a level of stubble between pop-rock star and Sean Connery.  Neither of which I actually look like, but both of which I imagine I do.  

“Do you think I need to shave?” I ask her, rubbing my hand across my chin and cheeks like a Russian chess master contemplating a strategic move.

“Maybe.” she says.  I know that this actually means yes, so I head to the bathroom to examine these robust follicles.  

The level of hairiness on my face is a bit mind boggling.    The top of my head can’t keep hair and the bottom I can’t keep it off. It’s like gravity is slowly pulling the hair through my scalp and pushing it out my cheeks.  

I look in the bathroom mirror, “Hmm, I do look a bit wild.”  Instead of reaching for my razor, I reach for my phone to check the weather.  Like a caveman or primal hunter, I think in pragmatic terms.  The weather in Ohio is notoriously varied. If you’re ever lost in Ohio, and need to fill a conversation, “How about this weather.” will get an Ohioan talking.  

I open the weather app on my phone and look for the temperatures.  If the weather looks tepid and I can manage to take out the garbage and walk through a parking lot without wearing a squirrel pelt on my face, I’ll shave.  Even when I do, my five o’clock shadow is back five minutes after I finish.  

“Thank you.” my wife will say as I emerge from the bathroom. It’s the same thanks I get after taking out the trash or washing the dishes.  

Once I realized that my unshaved face was my yoga pants I began to embrace it.  I started walking around with my chin a bit higher, like I was following the wafting aromas of a bakery down a French alley.  My unshaven face was my best face forward.  

Driving to pickup my kids from school, I realized that it wasn’t so much about wearing yoga pants to do yoga, but to wear them because you didn’t have to wear anything else.  It was the same with my face, I didn’t need to shave so why should I?  

I also realized that the stay-at-home parent conversations were never about us, but the people we were staying at home to support.  Our talk about food, school, and weekend activities were about taking care of the people around us.  It was up to us to do this, because we had the time, not having to busy ourselves with dressing up or shaving.  

I’ve not forgotten about my parenting book, I’m up to over 35,ooo words on the project.  Here are  more excerpts


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