When I first created this blog, my oldest son, Xavier (22 months at the time), had a habit of providing running commentary on the day’s events. He noticed who was in the room (“Mommy’s here. Daddy’s here. Papa’s here.”), what everyone was doing (“Mommy throws the ball.”), and, perhaps most importantly, what everyone was wearing (“Xavier has orange shirt. Grandma has brown flip flops.”). One of the things he noticed most often was whether we were wearing socks. For a long time, he would skip the formalities and greet me in the morning with one of the following observations: “Mommy socks on” or “Mommy no socks.” Most mornings it was the latter.
This simple three word combo always made me smile. And I love the multiple meanings it suggests. Why isn’t Mommy wearing any socks? Many times it was because I was still in my pajamas myself and weary from the incredible lack of sleep and energy I’d learned to endure as a parent. The image of a barefoot sweatsuit-clad disheveled mother is one many of us are familiar with, and we can see it as a sign of failure or, more forgivingly, of sheer exhaustion. Particularly during the earliest months of adapting to motherhood, I will admit to occasionally slipping out of the clothes I slept in and into my “good” pajamas when leaving the house with the kids. But being barefoot can also be a sign of earthiness, of shirking convention, taking chances, and embracing life. We dream of barefoot weddings on the beach, running through the soft grass with no shoes on, and curling up barefoot under a blanket on the couch.
What did my son have in mind when he noted my bare feet? Did he sense my inadequacy, thinking that a good mom would be able to wake up a little early, take a shower, and cover her feet with more appropriate footwear? Was he celebrating my edginess, my fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cool mom approach? Most likely, he was simply making an observation, in the same way he wasn’t being critical when he exclaimed “oops!” every time I dropped something or flattering me when he noticed the color of my shirt. At his age, he was simply taking it all in and holding up a mirror to the world. This window into a toddler’s fresh insight is, in my opinion, one of the best things about parenthood. This is my space to make some of my own observations about motherhood and everything else I’m balancing. I just hope I’m able to describe my world with an ounce of the same wonder and imagination that seems to come so naturally to my sons.