I always get sentimental about shoes. Shoes feel like such milestones in the life of the tiny humans.
There were first shoes, the sturdy ones that encouraged first steps.
There were ballet shoes, the pink ones that helped Holly grow in confidence.
There were school shoes, the patent, shiny ones that walked into her first classroom.
And there have been many, many more…
Then, this weekend there were hiking boots.
Proper, ankle supported, grown up hiking boots.
And, I was a bit emotional about it all.
I don’t know exactly why. But there were the tears, clinging to the edges of my eyelashes – ready to fall freely whilst she tried to loop her laces like a ‘grown-up’.
She needed some help in the end, but she asked and we helped. That’s Holly at the minute. Fiercely independent, but when she need us we’re there. To help, support, listen… to tie and loop laces.
She tells us about the universe, the planets, the meaning of friendship and she laughs at jokes on the radio, absorbed in her own little world. Inviting us in for a momentary glance at a wonderful, creative mind.
The best thing about the boots seemed to be that we told H they were supposed to get them dirty. She gave me that ‘look’ the one where she’s not sure if we’re kidding or totally serious. When she realised we were totally, absolutely 100% serious she loved it. Jumping in puddles, squelching in mud and destroying the ‘newness’ of them.
Recently she’s changing. So damn fast.
She’s taller than she’s ever been, which sounds obvious I know but all her clothes are too small and she’s lost that squishy edge. I look back at photographs from a year ago now and I can see how much she’s grown up. Her face is thinner, older and she’s beginning to work out the world a little.
She’ll sit and read a book next to me whilst I read one of my own. Occasionally asking what words mean, like ‘frustration’ or ‘sly’ and then sinking back into a story.
She goes and hangs out with her friends now and doesn’t even blink when I drop her off. At swimming lessons, the arm bands are gone – front crawl and diving to the bottom of the pool are becoming normal and she no longer reached up for the hand of her swimming teacher when she jumps in. It’s wonderful – but so terrifying that she’s growing up.
I wonder if all parents have this fear that they might ‘do it wrong’. But she’s my first, my only… as a parent I so much want to ‘do it right’. The fear of failure is immense. I don’t even know what failure would be, but I just want her to be happy and healthy.
I want to really help her succeed without making too many mistakes along the way.
So maybe all of this emotion was tied up in those first boots. The feeling that we’ve done something right. We’ve instilled in her a sense of adventure. A sense of joy that some shoes are meant to be well worn and filthy.
She loved being outdoors and going hiking. So much so that the next weekend we were back on the hills. Just the two of us. Exploring and talking out all of the creases in life.
This to me was the perfect Mother’s Day. Seeing her charge ahead and take the lead. No fear at all.
So whilst I completely understand I sound irrational – they’re just a pair of shoes… it’s another change. Another time I’ve stood back and watched Holly grow up.
Hiking with kids is brilliant. The chance to be outdoors, have time away from distractions and screens and noise and just be. I can really see this being something we do together so much more. Especially with a Sunday dinner in a cosy pub tagged on the end!
Someone said to me, ‘You don’t throw away the pair of first boots’. I think it’s true. They’re more than just shoes.
They’re a milestone.