She Needed a Strong Mama


In the last 15 years, I’ve loved nothing more than being a hairdresser; making people feel beautiful for a living is extremely rewarding. I truly love the bonds formed and the relationships I’ve built with my clients. 

Seven years ago, I created Alchemy, the Salon. A beautiful brand and business that would soar beyond my wildest dreams. I began gathering a team of wonderful hairdressers with the same passion as myself in a building that held so much sentiment for me.

I met my partner within the same month, and everything seemed to fall into place effortlessly. Life was incredible, and I felt so blessed when I found out I was pregnant on Christmas morning of 2019.

I knew raising a child and running a successful business would not be easy. But I knew, more than anything, that I was meant to be a mom.

Photo by Beauty in Chaos Photography

Instead of dreaming of a big wedding and a house with a white picket fence, I dreamt of little feet running around my heart and home. I dreamt of all the places we would explore together, the beaches we would sink our toes in, and the warm oceans we would splash around in. I dreamt of giggling wild-haired children with tiny freckled noses. I couldn’t wait to be a mom, but I knew I would never give up my career. I figured after my first was born, I would continue to work a relatively normal schedule and still create time to make memories with my children.

All of that came to a crashing halt one cold morning in November 2020. About four months after my daughter was born, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. She was 1 in 50,000. “5p minus” or “Cri Du Chat Syndrome” will create global delays. She has “low muscle tone” and will begin to miss milestones around six months. The developmental gap will continue to widen at that point, but the disorder isn’t degenerative. We don’t know if she will walk or talk. She will most likely have the developmental, motor skill, and speech delays and potential behavioral problems, which were shortly followed by a diagnosis of being partially deaf. 

Why me? Why my child? I had done everything right.

Yes, of course, there was a monetary exchange in my business because that is the general format of how a business survives, but I chose my career solely to make other people feel good. I gave back to my community. I cared for my employees. I treated people with respect. I rescued dogs no one else wanted. I donated to every cause and volunteered my free time.

For months, I silently grieved the life I thought I would have with my typical daughter; no toddler bopping around behind me, wearing cute dresses, and bossing me around—no shopping for prom dresses. But I did what I knew best: put on a happy face and got to work. I found the best doctors and specialists, enrolled her in every kind of therapy she would qualify for, and took a step back from my business to focus on ensuring my daughter would live the best quality of life I could give her. 

As a first-time mom, one tells you that you can have a healthy pregnancy and still end up with a child with a disability. Looking back on it, I could’ve gone through all of the genetic testing but because my daughter’s disorder is so rare, it still may not have come up.

Photo by Beauty in Chaos Photography

Over time, I’ve come to believe that even if there is no “early diagnosis,” life will always have hardships with children, typical or nontypical. Diagnosis or none, she was meant to be on this earth just as much as I was told to be her mother; we needed each other.

She needed a strong mama, and I needed a daughter that would tear down my walls, crack my heart wide open, and teach me that it is ok to slow down.

I wish that, starting from a very early age, we discussed differences more openly instead of shying away from potentially hard conversations. I firmly believe that the more we discuss it, the more we normalize it. Because of this, I have chosen to be very open about my daughter’s diagnosis and her progress with my clients, staff, and of course, friends and family.

Not everyone understands this decision I made for myself and our family, but while my daughter’s differences do not define her, I also know that I cannot pretend they don’t exist. If we force ourselves only to see the good in our children and intentionally ignore a missed milestone assuming there is nothing wrong, we are doing our children a disservice. I am a big believer in leaning in when things feel hard, and I truly believe that thanks to working hundreds of hours with my daughter’s wonderful team of therapists, she has come so far in her 2.5 years.

They are continually setting her up for a successful, full life. From her therapists, I have learned to outsource everything. For everything that is not in your expertise or that does not bring you joy, hire someone else to take care of it. If cleaning the house takes valuable time away from something you love, pay someone else to do it. If you need to hire a sitter for two hours at the end of a bad day so you can decompress with a cocktail and a girlfriend, do it. If you despise social media but your business thrives off it, unload it.

I have learned that you do not have to do everything by yourself.

I have stopped taking on new clients and focused my time on hiring and training a staff to support my business, so I don’t have to continue to do it alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Money is constant and will always return; you can always make more of it, but your time is not something you can get back, and your children deserve the best of you at any cost. 

It’s tough to juggle business ownership with special-needs motherhood. Often I want to throw my hands up and quit, but I can’t, and I won’t because I have a daughter that depends on my time with her as much as my family depends on my business to pay for her extra needs.

Four years later, life is very different, but I still feel blessed. If you’ve ever met my daughter, you will agree with me when I say where she is lacking; she makes up for in personality. She is a true light in this sometimes harsh cold world. She is extremely strong-willed like her mama, and in time, I  believe she will do everything typical children do, so what if it takes her twice as long? I love her more than I ever thought I could love another human, and I am so grateful she chose me as her mama.

A Fairfield native, Imogene Wilson – the driving force behind Alchemy, the Salon – has spent nearly two decades behind the chair and is committed to bringing out the inner beauty in each of her clients. Imogene specializes in dimensional color and balayage painting techniques, leaving your hair looking sunkissed, lived-in, and natural, whether dark or light! She loves cutting short hair (bobs, lobs, and pixies) and doing a lot of razor work to create trendy and flattering shapes. Imogene knows hair color like the back of her hand, as she used to educate for a well-known worldwide color brand before she had her daughter, Adalyn, who is the essence of her being. 


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