I was standing in my kitchen on Saturday morning, clad in my pajamas when the dog needed to go out. Typically when faced with this situation, I summon Dave who is almost always up and dressed before yours truly. But Dave was not only up and dressed this morning. He was already out with Chase at his basketball game, leaving me barefoot with my cup of coffee, stars and moons PJs, and one Pug dog that was about to explode.
The predicament, though rare, was not new to me. Faced before with this urgency and no time to get dressed, I would throw on my winter coat and slip on Dave’s shoes which are always sitting by the back door, and shuffle out back with the dog, taking extra care not to trip on the temporary clown feet I had created for myself. It’s a great look for me. So it was in this realm that I proceeded.
Dog leash. √
Slip on shoes. √
Begin backyard shuffle.√
But as I made my way across the yard, I realized that I wasn’t shuffling. The shoes I was wearing were on the larger side, but they didn’t feel like the normal clod hoppers I usually had to contend with. And then I looked down at my feet and saw why.
I had slipped on Noah’s shoes. And I couldn’t help but smile.
The fact that my son’s feet were now bigger than mine was not a revelation. I have taken careful note of Noah’s recent growth, and have watched closely as he dwarfed me in the past year. I wasn’t at all saddened by this reality. In fact, if Noah’s feet did not outgrow mine at some point, it might suggest that I have gargantuan, man-feet. Which I don’t. So, as I walked around in Noah’s Sanucks in the cold on Saturday morning, I didn’t feel surprised or melancholy. I felt something different.
I felt connected.
Only recently have I recognized some of the paths that Noah is traveling as ones that I, too, traversed back in the day. I’m sure we share experiences that go back to the time when we were babies, toddlers, and grammar school aged. But for some reason, I feel more tethered to Noah’s teenage years, perhaps because my memory of that time in my life is more vivid – and more raw.
I have walked in his shoes many times before this day.
In the last few months, I watched Noah navigate a number of familiar paths including a few of my personal favorites such as “Breakup Circle,” “My Parents Are Idiots Road,” and “I Suck at Math Lane.” Now seeing it all from the other side of adolescence, it makes much more sense. I can tell him with confidence that time really does heal all most wounds, that yes we ARE indeed idiots, but he is a bigger one, and you need math to get into college so go to help class – showing an effort makes all the difference. All in all, he’s done fairly well and, I’d like to think, so have I.
One of the tenets to which I continue to subscribe is to never forget what it was like to be your child’s age. I have found that, when faced with various situations, putting yourself in their shoes tends to take the edge off the most difficult and awkward conversations. Anything I can do to smooth the road ahead for both of us is worthy work on my part.
Noah has 1000 paths in front of him and not all of them will be familiar to me. And as he grows over the next few years, so will his feet, leaving me as a parent with even bigger shoes to fill. Here’s hoping that we both do our best to tread carefully with those we love, stay grounded to what’s important, and try not to trip too much along the way.
Have a great week.