I keep a ridiculously uncomfortable pair of shoes in my closet for no good reason other than to remind myself that I can still wear them. Anytime. If I so choose. And I do. Not because I have delusions of looking 10 pounds thinner, having the peaches-and-cream skin of a 20-year old, or even feeling younger. Ok, fine. I do have delusions about the skin thing. I digress. I wear the shoes because every time I visit my grandmother, I realize that being a mother ain’t what it used to be.
See, when you’re coming of age as young woman, no one pulls you aside and tells you that being a woman is a little bit like shopping in the shoe department at Nordstrom. (I realize that sounds cliched, contrived and sickeningly stereotypical, but if we’re honest with ourselves, there is not a single woman on the planet who doesn’t enjoy a new pair of shoes). It’s easy today to become overwhelmed and paralyzed with all of the tantalizing choices available to us. You go barreling into your adult life wearing an identity that needs to be sized to fit your newly minted freedom. More than anything, you desire something uniquely you, but something with a bit of room for growth. Dreams don’t usually come in a size 6 1/2. And don’t even think about looking for them on the clearance rack.
Humming the tune of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” some of us will at first choose the experience of a workin’ gal. As women, we are adept at climbing corporate ladders in heels, performing surgery in sneakers, and educating America’s brightest minds in kitten heels. Others might choose to beat the streets in the sensible pumps of a saleswoman or the black, steel-toe shoes of law enforcement. Some of us nobly choose to lace up the boots of a service woman. Still, as the years go on, some of us choose to return to the store to add to our collection the one pair of shoes that will never go out of style: motherhood, or as I like to call it: Smotherhood.
The beauty of being a mother today, is that our choices can be gloriously different. Some mothers are flinging off their slingbacks after work on the way to their kids’ soccer practice. It’s not cool if the coach is late. Some of us are dumping sand out of our sneakers for a round of daily errands that includes the school drop-off, grocery store and a stop at the park with the sandpit. And like my great-grandmother, the veteran mothers in the produce section at the grocery store are fondly remembering days gone by and hoping we realize just how lucky we are.
If you’re a mother, sometimes your shoes are just the bare soles of your tired, woefully unpedicured feet. With your Best Laid Plans, you faithfully put one foot in front of the other every single day to serve the loves of your life. You feel beautifully smothered. And that is a treasure unto itself.
But, if you don’t take the time to nurture YOU, the limping will set in. Then the limping turns to chronic pain. And bunions. You get the idea. It’s ugly for everyone involved. What can you do this week to take care of YOU? Maybe start a book for fun, go out to dinner with girlfriends, photograph something you wouldn’t normally. Heck, go shoe shopping. Whatever it is, commit to taking care of yourself. If you don’t, who will?
As for me, I’m going to spend some quality time with my fuzzy slippers. These things are killing me.