One Sunday night I picked up my youngest daughter, Emily, to go to a show. She was wearing a cute wrap dress and a fun necklace with big turquoise beads that
Like a bicycle tire that has just rolled over a shard of glass, the air began seeping out of my buoyant mood. I can’t think of anything my girls and I don’t talk about. No subject is taboo. But I was simply unable to allow the words So what’s with the shoes? to cross my lips.
So what’s with me and Emily’s shoes? After twenty minutes of discussing my daughter’s footwear with my cognitive therapist, I still could not figure out why my Emily’s unappealing (I cannot bring myself to call them the u-word) shoes made me feel blue, even though she has lots of shoes that make me feel happy.
A friend younger than I am, but older than Emily, asked me whether I had been a hippie in the Seventies and said the sandals sounded very hippie-ish and she wondered whether I saw too much hippie in them. I answered, “No, I don’t see hippie in the sandals, I see ugly (there, I said it).”
When finally I said something innocuous to Emily about the sandals, like “Where’d you get your shoes?” she picked up on it right away, and replied with her warm smile, “You don’t like them?”
“Uh-uh,” I admitted.
“Haha, I get sooo many compliments on them. Margaret liked them so much that she went to Payless and bought the same ones.”
At first I wanted to run and hide now that she was on to me. But when she said her peers were attracted to the sandals, she cast them in another light and I began to feel relieved about Emily’s Payless purchase. Coming out with my true shoe sentiments additionally diffused my anxiety.
Now I began to worry what was wrong with me that I needed outside assurance about what my daughter wore on her feet. After all, she has so many friends that love and admire her. No one was going to ostracize my kid (did I mention she is 24?) because of what she chose to walk in. Now I learn she was a virtual trendsetter.
Funny thing is, that Emily’s sister Sabrina picks out the most outlandish shoes. But somehow they match her unique style. We all admire Sabrina’s fashion sense, and even when she wears something I think is unsightly, it becomes cool because she picked it out and put it together with a clear plastic belt and a swish of a scarf and a necklace that is nothing more than a big bow on a long strand.
Emily is more like me. Despite her upbeat personality, her style is a bit shy. It was hard enough for her to wear Uggs in high school, but she could not bear to tuck her pants into them the way the other girls did.
As for Emily’s oldest sister, Eliza, well, she still has not forgiven me for letting her select her own fourth-grade attire of neon green or purple bicycle shorts and oversized T-shirts. I did not want to interfere with her sense of self, so only gently did I offer to buy her L. L. Bean khaki shorts like the other girls wore, but she would have none of it.
I asked Emily to send me a photo of her sandals for this post, and my daughter who fulfills her assignments on time, made me wait two days until she got around to first polishing her toenails.
I am beyond thankful that I had little worse than Emily’s shoes to discuss with my Cognitive.
*I use this expression to be cute; Eliza scrunches up her nose and protests. I’d love your thoughts about this: should I instead have written “By the way . . . ”?
Quiz question: Why do you think I was hyper-sensitive about Emily’s sandals?
Emily’s sandals that make me smile:
Not Sabrina’s shoes, but a shoe in a shop where she shops: