After church yesterday, K and M dropped me off at DSW Shoe Warehouse. That name is only mildly better than “Dress Barn.” Nevertheless it seemed like the perfect place for me to roam around in a sea of so many different shoes while being able to be alone with my thoughts. Lately, each weekend has been almost purely family time with no time alone. Actually, K graciously lets me succumb to a nap if we’re at home on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, while he takes M to a playground, though the poor guy could use some breaks himself. But I needed some awake Me Time to just BE. As much as I love our precious family time, when it comes to shopping together as a family, it always feels like an episode of 24 (though I’ve never watched, I have seen and heard the countdowns when K used to watch faithfully). We have to rush before M gets restless or wants to be carried or urgently needs to go dance at the store across the way.
I have so many pairs of shoes that I need to retire as I just can’t wear them any more. I have always had sensitive feet but now I seem to have only two go-to shoes because they are easy to slip on for rushing out of the house and the most comfortable for walking to farther playdates and playgrounds. I know they aren’t cute by any means but they are so effortless to wear. So much more inviting than the others. But sometimes, in pictures, I want to hide my shoes. So this time, I set out to be less about utility and a little more about cute because lately, I have become ALL about function and utility. Clean clothes I can grab quickly, shirts just long enough to cover my growing belly, even whichever bra that kinda fits.
When my friend visited me when I was a very new mom, she was surprised by how I had embraced my new life of no make-up, wearing whatever I can find, hair tied up any which way, and zero accessories. She said she remembered how we’d always bonded at work over our love for jewelry, purses, shoes, and Theory yet here I was not missing any of that because of my gurgling baby. Granted, I was never a true fashionista who put together ensembles rather than mere outfits. I do not have the energy for that or the pain tolerance for such shoes. But it’s true. During maybe even the entire first year of M’s life, I didn’t care about Bringing Cute Back but I now realize that it helps. I do believe that the smallest things, while staying at home instead of going into the office, can help me feel more ooomph in my (well-supported) step. Now I try to wear some make-up, or at least curl my eyelashes, though I always feel like I can’t even do that because I am so rushed and disorganized as I sweatily leave the house, hoping I packed enough snacks, wipes, bibs, and drinks for my little man.
So I went shoe-shopping to reclaim some style. I KNOW what good style is. I recognize it. Sample sales during a long work week gave me something to look forward to. Some of my girlfriends from college are always looking very well put together and impeccably accessorized. I went into the store thinking something along the lines of a nude Tahari flat. Maybe some patent leather? Maybe an edgier sporty Puma flat? I just knew it had to have some cushion, no laces, no velcro, no need for my hands to help put them on in any way BUT this time, with some cuteness or edge. I tried to convince myself that the cuter flats were somewhat comfortable, but I just knew they couldn’t carry me around solidly. My head and heart pleaded for cute; my feet answered with Dr. Scholl’s. How could other flats even feign comfort when the pair that ended up wooing me literally hugged my feet when I tried them on? I tried to look around at more stylish options but these Dr. Scholl’s and I were just meant to be. I wore them out of the store (true commitment = no refunds) and they bearhugged my feet as I waited for the train back home to my napping boys.
I see so many stylish mamas in my community. They inspired me to go searching for a bit of style once again, just for myself. But I also gotta be true to my ajummama spirit and embrace the uncute, if the uncute is oh-so-necessary.
So perhaps this is not yet the time for Bringing Cute Back. I still think I will strive for small changes that put some pep in my step, maybe in the form of some lipstick or brushing my hair, but I’ve also evolved into someone who looks at other women’s hideous shoes to think, “Deaaaamn, that looks comfortable!”