I’ve never been one to turn on the tears at will, but since becoming a mother they just sneak up on me sometimes. It could be my son reading a poem in front of the class or my oldest helping a friend, or yes, even a sappy TV commercial that cues the waterworks.
But I really didn’t think it would happen in a shoe store. Nike, to be specific.
I started buying Nikes for my wild boys several years ago. I’m not into name brands, but I realized how much longer these particular shoes seemed to last compared to whatever cheapo footwear I found on sale that week. It’s not an exaggeration that my little skateboarder once burned through generic slip-ons in just a few days.
So like I do at the start of every school year, I purchased my boys shiny new Nikes that were about a half-size too big to leave a little room to grow.
That was four months ago.
Yet my 13-year-old has been bugging me that he needs a new pair already. He says his feet hurt. He says his sneakers are stretched out and getting holes and tearing at the seams.
I hate nothing more than going to the outlet mall this time of year. But after putting it off, again and again, last night we finally made the trip. Though I’ll admit, I was annoyed. And I sure wasn’t looking forward to the price tag of another pair of fancy kicks so soon.
Really, is six months too much to ask of a pair of Nikes?
Like every shoe-store visit, we began by getting his tootsies properly measured.
And that’s when this mama got all misty-eyed. Yep. I was sniffling and choking back tears surrounded by bright-orange boxes and helpful 20-year-old store clerks.
Ten and a half.
My son went from a size 8 to a 10.5. In four months.
Can you imagine walking around in shoes that are more than two sizes too small? Of course, he was begging for new sneakers! It’s no wonder he was crabby! No kidding his feet hurt!
As the waves of guilt threatened to consume me, my son let out a shocked laugh at the impossibly high number. He wasn’t mad or disappointed. As I wiped the corners of my eyes with my shirt sleeve, he simply lumbered through the store and picked out a not-too-pricey pair that was actually rather sharp.
Together, in awe, we pressed down on his toes to confirm these giant Nikes really did fit. It was an affirmation that his sudden bigness is strange for both of us. His voice deepening. Looking each other straight in the eye, knowing that in a matter of weeks he’ll be looking down on my salt-and-pepper mom head.
Yes, as parents of course we know it’s going to happen. We know our babies will grow up. Yet, somehow, it’s still a shock when your child starts looking less like a gangly kid and more like a grown man.
In the shoe store check-out line, he gave me a little half-hug. He thanked me for the new shoes.
And I made a promise to myself. While I’ll always be his mama, this quickly growing teenager is learning how to be his own person. And when he tells me what he needs, I should listen the first time and trust him.
Jacqueline Miller is the lone female in a house full of guys. She travels freakishly light and can balance two kids on her Dutch bike. Her recent articles appear in Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, and Sammiches & Psych Meds, and she’s working on a book about her three years in the Netherlands. If you enjoyed this article, follow her at www.boogersabroad.com and Facebook.