I store my slippers in the back of my closet along with my “good butt” jeans from college. I still reach back there and pull out the slippers from my closet for special occasions but I do so knowing my feet will be killing me when the clock strikes twelve. My princesses have been pulling my glass slippers out a lot. They clomp around with goofy grins on their faces and I know they are imaging their happy endings.
I am not ready to take this fantasy away from them. Some days I even envy them, but most days I worry. I worry about their first heartbreak, the self conscious decisions they will make and all the different pairs of glass slippers they will buy only to find out that they don’t fit.
Two little girls who despite their personality differences have both fallen hook, line, and sinker for the fairy tale. A fairy tale that I have discovered (purely by accident, age, and life experience sprinkled with a little maturity) does not exist in the effortless form that it appears. In fact, in my old age I am a firm believer that it is the glass slipper mentality that has caused many in my generation to forget that joy, happiness, health, loving relationships and financial success all stem from hard work, persistence, and the more then occasional bit of physical, mental and emotional discomfort.
A lot of us, me included, have traded our glass slippers in for a more functional, comfortable ballet flat which sparkles less. My ballet flats are not black and white, they are gray (pun intended). They have some sparkle on the toe but I ultimately found the right shoe and the right fit at a Payless not a Bergdorf’s. It was a shoe I didn’t even know I wanted and was very reluctant to try on. In fact, I didn’t even want to shop there.
Now my flats are the key to my happiness. After a year of personal growth, my ballet flats are my mantra. Trading in my glass slippers for ballet flats has allowed me to live in the moment, be joyful in times of imperfection and helped me to walk through the tragic, the sad, and the many discomforts of life. I am comfortable in my shoes. Once and a while my feet are a little cold but I think I’m lucky to have ultimately found the right shoes.
If I could give one thing to my daughters I would present them with the perfect fitting slipper. The one that they don’t even know they want. If only I could send them out into the world already wearing the more comfortable, functional ballet flats. The problem is I can’t. I can give my girls a lot of things but I cannot give them that. This is what keeps me up at night.
To say my shoe shopping has been difficult is an understatement but I find that it is not the details that haunt me. It’s the learning curve. My heart aches when I think about the loss of innocence, faith, and confidence that lies ahead for my little princesses’. Sometimes I wonder, did I miss this lesson in school? Maybe my mother brought me to Payless and tried to get the more functional, less sparkly shoe on my foot. Did I roll my eyes and walk out with the knee high leather black boots instead? Can I stop my daughters from making the same mistake?
I could try, but ballet flats are a reality I am not willing to share with them yet. They only have a few precious years to twirl around in their pink tutus. So instead I worry. I worry about prince charming, wicked step mothers, and the tragic beginnings that accompany so many happy endings. I worry about all the shoes they will buy only to find out that they don’t fit and are not comfortable no matter how pretty they look.
It has taken me many years to realize that every woman must find her own slippers and every woman’s shoe collection is unique. I can only hope that watching me wear my modest, comfortable slippers (with just the right amount of sparkle) with confidence, pleasure and joy, will inspire them to look beyond the glass slippers they think they should buy. I hope they will at least try on a more sensible, functional shoe that has a realistic amount of sparkle. After all, it’s the sparkle that makes life fun and even I still believe that every girl needs a little sparkle.