The school year is in full swing which means early mornings, lunches to pack, homework to check, and my least favorite game: find your shoes. I have a dichotomous relationship with shoes. Personally, I love them, and as my children often point out, I have too many. As a mom to five sons, I often get humorous questions about all the shoes in my closet. Once in the early years, when money was always tight, my oldest son, then a toddler, said to me, “Mommy, if we need some extra money you could open up your shoe store to other people.”
When it comes to children’s shoes, I loathe the need for them and wish we could all just embrace a culture where we admit shoes are an unnecessary incumbrance and just do away with them all together. Think of all the cultures where shoes are simply a luxury. I grew up in the country and rarely remember having the need for shoes outside of school, which is why I shouldn’t get so frustrated with my eleven-year-old daughter, who literally lost a school shoe overnight last week only to discover it in the parking lot the following day where I picked her up. Obviously, eight hours was long enough for her to have her feet in that prison and the moment she got to the car, off they came.
At least three mornings a week we are racing against the clock, with my organized children (there are usually three of them) ready to go, standing by the door, waiting, as I yell at the eight-year-old to keep looking for his shoes! He went to school last week in the hard-toed dress shoes I bought for his confirmation last year. Obviously, those were just what his P.E. Teacher ordered.
And why must shoes insist on their dreaded necessary pairing? This summer, there were several instances where we were patiently waiting in the car, and once again the eight-year-old came to the car with three left-footed flip flops, claiming that was all our burgeoning shoe bin had to offer in his approximate size. To add insult to injury, once the children start school, we must also begin the treacherous hunt for matching socks to go with the infernal shoes. Last year, while in carline at the end of the day, I spotted a young boy who had on one no-show sock, and what appeared to be an adult man’s sock on the other foot. That was my son, and he was wearing his sixteen-year-old brother’s sock and my no show sock.
This morning in Mass, I sat near a beautiful young mom with all her saint-makers, nine to be exact, the oldest of whom is not yet that age. And my first thought was, “God bless this mama, I can’t believe all her children have on shoes!”
For all you mothers hunting for shoes this week, think of all the times in Scripture when God instructs his people to remove their shoes because they are standing on holy ground. The homes we have made, in this vocation we love, have created holy ground, and so by pure instinct, our children know they must remove their shoes . . . and subsequently lose them.