New Shoes and an Unexpected Parenting Lesson

I’m the kind of person who likes to have a system in place.  I’m just not the “wing it” type.  This applies to everything from when my baby eats, to when he sleeps, to the kind of shoes he wears. But shoe shopping has recently given me new perspective and has provided me with a great parenting lesson!

New Shoes and an Unexpected Parenting Lesson

When I first entered the world of baby shoe shopping back in 2005, my first child Hedley was one year old.   I invested in this pair of navy blue New Balance sneakers with white laces — I remember it like it was yesterday.

My kids' first pair of baby shoes -- navy blue sneakers.Given that none of my kids walked until around 15-16 months, this first pair of sneakers did not see a lot of wear and tear and managed to become a hand-me-down.  Hedley-Lachlan-Beckett-Annaliese- and now Marielle (who’s already outgrown this pair) — they all wore this exact same pair of sneakers and no one thought twice about it, including me.

Thus commenced a tradition in my house of simply finding the next size up for Hedley and passing the other, older sneakers down the chain.  No worries, no stress, no additional decision-making (sometimes I dread making another decision).  Girls, boys, they all wore the same sneakers.

Here’s a shot of our family of sneakers going through airport security:

Shoes going through airport security.

I also saved quite a lot of money, because rather than buying multiple pairs of sneakers every six months, I bought just one, sometimes two if an older pair looked particularly beat up.

But just as we moms get comfortable in our systems and routines, up spout the kids and their role is to say “Hold it right there, lady… I have my own ideas about what kind of sneakers I want.  I’m an individual, I’m not a doll that you dress.”  That’s when I really see my kids growing up. Thus ended my sneaker tradition last week when a now eight-year-old Hedley announced in the shoe store that he really didn’t like that navy blue sneaker anymore — he wanted a bright, colorful, “fun” pair like the other boys in his class.

I was mortified: our family tradition was over (and along with that a lot of practicality and savings).  I was also paralyzed at the prospect of actually having to switch up the routine. We ended up marching out of the store without buying anything!  I just wasn’t ready to deal with the whole thing, to be honest.

New sneakers!Two days later after lunch with friends we held an impromptu “intervention.”  My colleague Katie helped me select a pair of sneakers with bright orange trim and I wavered back and forth, but finally slapped down my credit card and took them home.

Hedley’s grin as he walked to school the next day was unprecedented, although his brothers are none too pleased.  Me?  I’m still struggling with the fact that my lovely tradition is officially over, but I am proud of myself for beginning to accept the fact that my child is his own person and doesn’t need me anymore to make certain decisions for him. He needs me to support him as he makes decisions for himself.

Here’s a picture of Hedley (with mom!) in his new kicks:

Hedley loving his new sneakers!

Thanks for reading.  If any of you other mommies have struggled with this same desire to control what your children are wearing, for whatever reason, I would really appreciate hearing about it below!  That always helps when you’re a recovering control freak.