Five pairs of shoes sat in my freezer over the weekend. Since experiencing horrible foot pain while on a family vacation a few weeks ago, I am acutely aware that my shoes don’t fit me anymore. On the same trip, I came to another conclusion far more painful than blisters on my toes. My job title has changed. I am no longer a stay-at-home-mom. Both are a baffling realization.
See, for the first problem, I’ve worn a size seven in shoes from the time I was twelve years old. The size remained consistent through my pregnancy and even my immense weight-gain. Two years after my daughter was born, I gained sixty pounds. Juggling motherhood and a hysterectomy combined with a Dairy Queen’s proximity, featuring a treat called “Frozen Hot Chocolate” proved too much for me. Eventually, I lost the weight but always maintained my shoe size.
I love shoes. Shoes are the outward reflection of my soul! They always have been! I was the only person in my sixth-grade class that played kickball in a pair of Victorian-styled lace booties. They were the first pair of shoes I ever chose and bought myself. I was so proud of them.
Even though I was not much of a kicker, I stood in my delicate high heels and waited for the ball. Where else was I supposed to publicly display my latest shoe score than on Homeplate in front of my peers?
Motherhood, on the other hand, was something I never really chose. I just became a mother. It was natural for me, something I knew how to do. I’ve always been a caretaker of someone. As a child, I took care of my younger sisters. I also babysat neighborhood children until I met and married my husband.
Then I was a wife, and a family came after that. That was the culture my husband and I lived in, it was what everyone we knew was doing, and we followed suit.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. As much as shoes are the outward reflection of my soul, my kids are the outward reflection of my heart. It’s that it never occurred to me that I could choose whether or not to be a mother. I could choose to be anything at all.
However, once the job was mine, I wrapped myself entirely around being a Mom, and I have given everything within me to be a good one. I never thought about what would happen once the role no longer fit.
A couple of weeks ago, I was with my family vacationing at the happiest place on earth. It was just the four of us, my husband, my daughter, my son, and me, and it was probably the last family vacation with only the four of us we’ll ever have.
I wanted to experience everything with them, to be present, to explore, to go on a million-mile-an-hour-death-coaster so that I could be strapped down next to one of my kids for forty-five seconds. I didn’t want to miss one minute without them. I wanted it so badly that I practically ruined my feet doing so.
It’s not their fault. I guess it’s mine. My kids grew up. I helped them do it, and now, my career as a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t fit me anymore.
In struggling to figure out what to do about my closet full of ill-fitting shoes and actively ignoring what to do about my mother-status, I discovered an article about expanding one’s shoes.
One solution (sans a shoe tree or access to a Cobbler. Really, the article suggested a shoe Cobbler! Do shoe Cobblers exist anymore?) was to fill gallon-sized baggies with water and freeze them inside the too-small shoe.
The water freezes and expands, which then enlarges the pair of shoes. So, that’s how I ended up with five pairs of shoes in my freezer over the weekend. It worked, by the way! My shoes fit me better than they ever have before. However, solving one problem made me think about the other painful thing in my life.
It occurred to me that change is here, whether I like it or not, and I can choose what I want to do about it. I have the opportunity to stretch myself into something bigger and better fitting. I can choose to take a step forward towards an unknown future, no matter the missteps, hammertoes, and uncertainties waiting for me out there on the horizon. I can choose to become something, and I’m scared to death!