Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mother of the Year

I am not a beautiful or unique snowflake. It's a tale as old as time. I'm not boldly going where no woman has gone before. Why yes, I probably could squeeze a few more pop culture references in here, if I tried. Thank you for asking.

Every woman who has ever called a child her own has had a moment or two (or a thousand or a million) when they felt unworthy of the task. Today's mother of the year moment? Well, it involves shoes.

Liv has always had an interesting relationship with shoes. As the second daughter, she wore hand-me-down shoes from her sister for the first three years of her life. As fast as kids grow out of shoes at that age they were always in really good shape and I never gave it a second thought. Then one day - right around her third birthday - someone - probably my sister - bought her a pair of shoes. Her eyes lit up and she said "My own shoes? My very own shoes? Just for me?" I vowed that day to never make her wear hand-me-downs again. I had no idea. She never complained.

That was around the same year she discovered The Wizard of Oz and, along with it, Dorothy shoes. She, like so many toddlers before and since, NEEDED red sparkly shoes. And she had them. She had them through three size changes. She rarely if ever wore anything else for the next couple years. She wouldn't tell us when they started to get tight, because she didn't want us to take them away from her. I don't know if she just couldn't quite grok the fact that we'd buy her a new pair, or if she just didn't want a replacement because it wouldn't be the same. She had an unnatural attachment to those shoes.

Fast forward to last year. She found a pair of Iron Maiden Vans. That's right. Vans adorned with pictures of the iconic Eddie. To say she loved these shoes would be a dramatic understatement. She alternated them with her equally beloved knee high combat boots. I think it would be safe to say, wearwise, that she wore them for six solid months. Canvas shoes weren't made for that kind of abuse. They started to tear. She wore them like that for awhile, right under my oblivious nose. When I noticed, we started shopping for new shoes, but there was no satisfactory replacement to be found. And if Liv doesn't like it, Liv isn't going to wear it. I opted not to waste my money.

This morning she came downstairs to breakfast with her shoes wrapped in duct tape. Part of it was functional - where the upper had started to separate from the sole in the front - but then she'd repeated it on the back for purely aesthetic reasons. She was clearly thrilled to have Eddie back on her feet and was all ready to head out the door to school.

"You can't go to school with shoes held together by duct tape."

"Well, I can't go to school with ripped shoes."

Those were not the only two options at her disposal and I told her so. She didn't fight with me. She didn't say a word, actually. She went upstairs for a few moments, then came back down and finished her breakfast. When she left the table, I noticed that she'd changed her shoes. I also noticed that she'd been crying.

"What's wrong?"

"I was just trying to be creative."

"I know - put them back on if you want to."

"I can't."

"Yes you can - you still have a few minutes."

"No. I can't. I ripped them up. Duct tape won't fix them now."

I resisted the urge to say, "Oh, sweetie! Duct tape can fix ANYthing!" because it was time to head for the bus.

I hate that I made my baby cry.

I hate that I squelched her creativity.

But more than anything, I hate that I let my own class issues hurt her. I was more worried about what people would think than about how she felt.

I'm going to spend the day trying to forgive myself.

Right after I order a new pair of heavy metal kicks.


Eva Gallant said...

Awwww...Your are a good Mom. Duct taped shoes could be dangerous. They carry the risk of being totally made fun of by others. Don't beat yourself up. Most of us would have done the same thing. The rest would not have even been paying enough attention to have noticed.

Anita said...

Oh Tammy.......I know you feel awful, but I might have made the same mistake.
I feel bad when I try to suggest clothing changes to my kids. Just today Caitie was wearing shorts(short ones) and 2 tank tops. I suggested she might be cold,today was only going to be 68, cool in FL terms,and to my suggestion she replied, I'm taking a sweatshirt. So off she went in flip flops and all the rest. Me shaking my head,and yes I do worry what the adults in her school will think............I pray it's only that she is a head strong teen, and not from a home with a crazy momma.
Feel better.

Anonymous said...

Oh Tammy. that sucks. I hate these moments when our issues become their issues. Good luck finding a pair. I'm going to start looking too!! ;) P.S. We should all know not to miss with a girl and her shoes...but we forget in our old age...right?

Anonymous said...

Don't know exactly what they looked like...but found this site looks promising:

MiMi said...

Awww, so she went upstairs and ripped em up after you told her not to wear em??
It's sad, but don't beat yourself up, it'll be good. You'll find some new ones, I'm sure of it.

Tater Tot Mom said...

I would have done the same thing and been kicking myself afterward too. It's tough to not let your own experiences get in the way of letting them be themselves. I remember kids calling everything "generic" and making fun of K-Mart even though that's where we shopped sometimes. You want to save them all that pain of being made fun of or people thinking your a sucky parent because you won't buy your kid shoes. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Rosa said...

Oh Tam, try to give yourself a break. It's not always about 'class issues' or 'being hung up on appearances'. Sometimes it's just common sense and a gut reaction. There's not one mom among us, I'm relatively sure, that wouldn't have the immediate reaction of 'you are NOT wearing those to school'. Her creativity will rebound. Her psyche will not be damaged. Liv will be fine. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

Anonymous said...

I think you are an awesome mom for even thinking about this.

Most moms would yell about duct tape without a second thought.

I think you'll both do great.

Matt the Bass Player said...

ageing has a way of squashing the inner child...certainly, there are justifiable reasons like work and bills and responsibility and common sense...that doesn't mean it's not a shitty way to treat yourself...thanks to tom and the javs, i became reaquainted with my inner child...i enjoy his company and wish he could stay and play longer than he does...matt the husband/father/business owner is much different than matt the artist and matt the bass player...matt the husband/father/business owner is not as much fun...he's very closed minded...and he's very old...much older than he should be...

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

Maybe you two could still find a creative way to utilize those shoe shreds with duct tape and all - a cool necklace? Or a patch to go on a pair of jeans? Something that shows she still have a piece of those shoes with her? Just throwing out ideas....

I struggle with the class issues too. I don't know why. I mean, honestly, who cares. I just want to feel good about me and my family to be happy too. Who gives a flip about others?

Anyway, she'll be fine. And I'm confident that you'll find a solution that will be okay for you both. After all, you are mother of the year. :)

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I like Mandy's idea about using the shoe shreds in another form. Don't be too hard on yourself today. I bet her creativity will be back by time she gets home from school.

blueviolet said...

You know, I'll bet if my daughter had done something like that she would have done it because it was cool or funky or different. But maybe my daughter was just weird. lol

Becky said...

I would have done that same thing.

That does just break your heart when they cry.

Aw, I hope you find her another pair:)

Pam said...

Oh no! It's heartbreaking when things like this happen. And they happen to me on a nearly daily basis. I hope you can find another pair of those Van Halen Vans online. Good luck and keep us posted.

Tracie said...

Awww. You are a good mom. She's a girl and you know how those emotions are. I hope you found the shoes online.

MaryRC said...

i saw the KISS ones a few weeks ago while shopping for kid shoes, my hubby said no... to me not the kids.

well mother of the year welcome to my club, im squashing Rae's creativity all the time, but I just cant have beads barretts and bows all over my house. she gets so offended when i clean up.

Swine said...

Well, I'm no longer talking to a woman capable of such horrible behavior towards a child. Good day!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Girls and their shoes. Been there, done that, still doing it myself :-)

Maybe, just maybe, if duct taped Vans work for your daughter she won't ever step up to Manolo Blahniks.

Hang in there Tammy. You're a great mom and the duct tape will be forgotten as soon as she has cool new shoes on her feet.


Sandy said...

Ohhh, she'll forgive you, so forgive yourself. And find another pair online!

carma said...

I teared up reading this post. I woulda felt like crap too; you are so sweet for ordering a new pair.

Freedom of expression is one of the best gifts you can give her :-)

Unknown Mami said...

I am crying right now. You are awesome for even noticing your issues. I remember having moments like that with my mother and she never relented. You had a momentary loss, but you are still awesome and so is your daughter.

Housewife Savant said...

"Heavy metal kicks"? Is that Cool Mom terminology for new Eddie Vans? cuz the Whole Time I was sending the "Go to eBay Tam" vibe.

I've missed you most of all.