Keratin Treatment and Mikvah

A few weeks ago, I had a keratin treatment put in my normally thick, dry, curly hair. The treatment was wonderful. My hair is still curly, but the curls aren’t as tight, and there is absolutely no frizz. For the first time in my life, I have wash and go hair. I don’t have to use gel or mouse or anything else. I can even leave the house without showering in the morning and still look like a respectable human being.

As anyone whose had this treatment done knows, the treatment comes with a lot of rules. Don’t wash your hair for 24 hours. Don’t use shampoo/conditioner with sodium chloride. Only shampoo your hair every other day. And–if you go swimming, make sure to treat your hair with a leave in conditioner before you go, because the chlorine can strip the keratin from your hair.

Well, the mikvah has chlorine, so that posed a problem. Since the whole idea of mikvah is to not have any barriers between the body and water, leave in conditioner is inherently a problem.

I debated the whole week before I went to the mikvah about what I would do. I finally decided to call a yoetzet halacha. I figured that a woman would know more about keratin treatments and leave in conditioners than a male rabbi would, so she’d be the better person to speak with. I called and left a message, and we played phone tag up until it was time for me to leave for the mikvah. So, I ended up deciding on my own to do something that made me comfortable both halachically and cosmetically:

When I started doing my prep, I wet my hair and then put the leave in conditioner in. I let it sit about 5 or 10 minutes, then I rinsed it out, using only water. Then, I did my regular prep, including washing my hair with shampoo (I used my own sodium chloride free shampoo instead of the stuff provided by the mikvah). Then, when it was time to tovel, I told the mikvah lady that I was only going to dunk once, even though I’ve been doing three. I dunked really quickly, she said kosher, and I got out. I then showered with my shampoo, again.

Overall, I’m happy with the results. The keratin stayed in my hair. I spoke to the yoetzet afterwards, and she confirmed that what I did was acceptable. I stressed about it beforehand, but I think it’s a system that will work in the months to come.

I wanted to share this with you all on the one hand because it’s an interesting look into the particular concerns of mikvah, but also because when I was trying to figure out what to do before I went, I scored the internet and I couldn’t find one place where keratin was discussed in the context of mikvah. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help another woman figure out a viable option for maintaining her keratin treatment while at the mikvah.

My Problem With “Mommy”

I don’t think it’s anti-feminist of me to sit and think about what life will be like in the eventual future when I have kids, because I have already made a choice–an active choice–that I want to have children someday. I don’t know when that day will be, but I know that it will come eventually.

I think a lot about how I want to raise my children, what I want to teach them, how involved I want to be, etc. I also have decided that I want my children to call me “Mom”. This, like all my thoughts, is subject to change when the time comes, but as of now, I just don’t think “Mommy” is right.

My problem with Mommy is that while it’s cute and endearing for a 5-year-old to call her mother “Mommy”, it’s not quite as endearing for a 15-year-old or a 25-year-old. I should know–I was raised by a Mommy and a Daddy, and to this day, I still feel like those are the natural names to refer to them. When I was in high school, I realized it was kind of weird and tried to make an active effort to switch to “Mom” and “Dad”, but it never felt as right or as natural as “mommy” and “daddy”.  Just yesterday I got a message from my father in which he said, “It’s Daddy, call me back when you get off of work”. It’s just so ironic for a Daddy to be requesting that his adult daughter call him back after she gets off of work.

I know kids that call their parents mom and dad, and it does seem a little off. At first, it almost feels like there is some sort of lack of intimacy between the child and the parent, that the kids can’t fully express their love to their parents, because they don’t have cute pet names. But then I realize that sort of thinking is just incredibly archaic. It’s not about the title, it’s about the relationship–and these kids actually do have wonderful, loving, caring parents that would do just about anything in the world for their children, and the children know it.

Maybe it’s a personal thing I have against pet names. I’ve told my husband that I don’t want him to give me any pet names, either. (Hello, I’m not his pet!). I know a lot of women like this sort of thing, but I just feel that names like Baby, Honey, and Sweetie are incredibly condescending. I’m not his baby, I don’t need him to care for me. It works for us-when he wants to be endearing to me, he just tells me what it is that he loves about me–using my name and everything–and I love him for that. Now, I know that sort of reasoning doesn’t work with the Mommy issue, but maybe it’s deeper than that. Maybe I just say that I don’t want pet names because it’s anti-feminist, when in reality, I’m just too rational to enjoy pet names.

My mother is a preschool teacher with a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She advocates against parents using any sort of baby talk with their kids. She thinks that you’re just teaching children improper language skills, and that by using incorrect words and grammar with your kids, you’re impeding language development. I’ve been taught that philosophy my whole life. So maybe that’s where the mommy thing comes into play: Why reinforce something that you’re just going to want to undo later?

I should note that my issues against “mommy” are my own, and I haven’t yet discussed them with my husband. However, it won’t bother me at all if he chooses to be Daddy, Abba, Tattie, Papa, or anything else–he can be whatever he wants to be, just like I can.