At the beginning of the summer I purchased sandals for both my son and my daughter. I knew we’d be doing a lot of hiking and camping and wanted them to have sandals that would be more comfortable in the warm weather yet would still protect their toes and feet while hiking. At Target I was only able to find one pair that fit the bill. They were outdoor sandals that protected the toes. They were black and looked cute and are available in both of children’s sizes. The only thing was that despite being black and very unisex looking, technically they were boy sandals. But my daughter didn’t seem to mind, she seemed indifferent and didn’t seem to notice that her brother was getting the same shoes.
That was until the new school year started and another little girl pointed out to my daughter that she was wearing boys shoes. My daughter does like the shoes, especially with flip-flops not being an option when choosing what to wear at school in the hot weather. But now, she doesn’t want to wear them. Because she’s afraid the other kids will point out that she’s wearing boy shoes. And darn it, she wants girls sandals.
She seems to be caught between this awkward place of wanting to be girly and pink yet naturally being independent and tomboyish. She wants to be both. And I need to learn how to help her. I preach about wanting her to be herself and to march to her own beat and be who she wants to be. But sometimes, she wants to be girly.
Do I force her to wear her “boy” sandals or let her get “girl” shoes because she’s worried about about what other kids are saying?
I know I’m supposed to know the right answer to these questions. I know I am supposed to say the exact right thing to my daughter. I just forget what that right thing is. That’s the tough part about being a mom. We don’t always know what to do. Even moms like me who spend my days writing for blogs like the one here on SheHeroes, helping other moms know what to say. Even I draw a blank when it’s my own little SheHeroe’s eyes I’m supposed to be answering.
That why it’s good to have friends. It’s good to have allies. It’s good to have other moms who can look at you with a wink and smile and say, “Hey, I know what you should say.” Or they write a blog post about another little girl with blue shoes who is also trying to understand the actually difference between “boy” shoes and “girl” shoes.
It was after I had written this post that I read the amazing post written by Melissa Wardy over at Pigtail Pals, “A Letter to Bella And Other Girls With Blue Shoes.” And I couldn’t have read it on a better week.
And then today after I picked up my daughter as we walked home, her in her “boy” shoes she said, “Oh Mom, I forgot to tell you! One of the boys in my class said he liked my shoes! He said his big sister has a pair JUST LIKE THEM!” And she skipped off ahead of me.
Between Melissa’s post and my daughter’s new knowledge of the “big” sister who wears shoes just like hers, I was reminded as to why we all do what we do at places like SheHeroes. It’s sharing stories of the SheHeroes and Pigtail Pals we know that help the next girl navigate her way through childhood. It’s also how us moms navigate through it as well.
Thanks to Melissa at Pigtail Pals for her post, thanks to Bella and her blue shoes, and a big thanks to the anonymous big sister who likes to wear boy shoes for being part of my village.