Wearing cute shoes


I like cute shoes.

I like nail polish.

I like the feeling I get when I’ve just painted my nails and I catch glimpses of them as I type, or, even better, when I model them to myself in the mirror. Ya know, casually hooking my thumbs in my pockets to see how the color on my fingertips lays against my jeans.

I like skirts and dresses. I like this skinny jeans with boots on top style and I bought new boots this year, for the first time in nearly a decade, to do it right.


Big deal, right? So what? Lots of people like nail polish and clothes and new boots.

Yes, but lots of people also don’t talk about it. Or nurture it.

I don’t normally talk about it. Or nurture it.

When I was a kid, I came to a crossroads sometime during middle school. I went to a Catholic school complete with uniforms. Little plaid skirts and button down white shirts. So in the early years, we all looked pretty much the same. Little girls in little uniforms, hair pulled into pigtails that were almost guaranteed to be messy by lunch time.

But right around middle school, the group began to divide. There was the group of girls who began to actively search for every opportunity to incorporate fashion into their uniformed lives — the way they wore their hair (perm it, of course), the way they wore their shirts (leave the top button casually unbuttoned). They chose stylish brown shoes or very fashion forward coats and sweaters and school bags.

At this crossroads, I went the other way. I focused on my school work. I admired their fashionable looks but at that moment, that incredibly early moment in my life, I decided I couldn’t do that. Because I was studious and serious about school. I had ‘more important’ things to think about.

I couldn’t, I decided, be top of my class while wearing cute shoes.

In the years that followed, I dabbled in fashion. Dipping a toe in here and there with a new, expensive purse or a trip to a posh salon. But mostly, I pushed it aside. I studied and cultivated a persona of serious, smart, important. The path stretching in front of me, I believed, had to be paved in the same stone the entire lifelong way. I believed that I had to choose – fashion or school, fashion or being good at my job, fashion or being a good mom. And fashion never won.

But here’s the thing. These days, my life is a mess. A big, beautiful mess of a million scattered ingredients. I am mother to a four-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy and so my days are filled with glitter and trucks and tutus and sneakers and dancing and climbing and running. I am a working mother and so I move from changing diapers and filling brightly colored bowls with cereal to discussing the importance of developing a comprehensive content strategy for non-profits. I’m an artist at heart and so when the day is done and the emails have been put away and the kids are tucked into bed, I dive into knitting or painting.


My path is no longer paved in one, single kind of stone but a veritable rainbow of stone and brick and sometimes sticks and mud.

So why can’t I also be fashionable? Why can’t I also paint my nails and buy that new pair of shoes that fills me with an undeniable sense of happiness? And why can’t I admit that yes, sometimes a pair of shoes fills me with an undeniable sense of happiness?

wearing cute shoes

My daughter is bright. She has a beautiful soul. She works hard at school and happily continues her learning at home. She loves to paint and draw. She nurtures and takes care of people. She loves to run and jump, dig her hands into the sandbox and turn somersaults in the grass.

And she cares a lot about her shoes. She picks her attire in the morning with great care and though passers by might think her pairings are haphazard, she very deliberately pulled that pink, fluffy tutu on beneath that t-shirt that she colored herself over the tights with the sparkly silver polka dots.

She hasn’t reached any kind of crossroads yet. She hasn’t been tempted to create any arbitrary rules of engagement. She breezily pulls everything she loves out of this world and swirls it all together into one big marbleized life.

And sure, she contradicts herself on the daily. Layering bracelets up and down her arms and draping a pile of necklaces around her neck and in the same breath whining when I insist on brushing her hair. But so what?

Why can’t she love her accessories and all things sparkly and the idea of literally being Rapunzel and still dread the moment when the brush meets a tangle? Why can’t she spend a fair bit of time in her closet in the morning, carefully selecting the bright white skirt and flowy white shirt that she loves and then, not more than an hour later, charge into the schoolyard for a full-on game of tag.

Why can’t I also be all that I am and all that I want to be, mixing work with motherhood with fashion?

There is no answer to that question. Because, I can. Spending a half hour in the evening carefully swiping a tiny brush across my fingernails does not detract from the way I nurture my children. Taking a little time to plan my outfit for the day or try a new style, even when I’m working from home and will see nobody that isn’t at preschool during drop-off, does not make me less serious about my work. Spending a few minutes dreaming about the new pair of sandals I bought and plotting out what dress will really show them off the first time I wear them is not a waste of minutes that I should have spent reading or planning the next day’s busy schedule. Rather, it is an expenditure of minutes that makes me, me.

I can be a good student, a good writer, a good employee, and a good mother and I can do it all at the same time. While wearing cute shoes.

pour your heart out


  1. yes! you can be all the things. sometimes it’s harry, messy and a bit of a pile up of loves and passions, but I’m with you – we can be all the things. I would never tell my daughter to narrow herself to fit little boxes. I have to give myself the same advice. get it friend, boots, sparkly nails and all 🙂
    tara pohlkotte recently posted..I Had Always Known {A review of Cory Chisel and the Fox Valley Symphony Concert}My Profile

  2. YES!! I absolutely identify with every word (except I didn’t go to Catholic school.) But every single other thing. My favorite line:

    “She hasn’t been tempted to create any arbitrary rules of engagement. She breezily pulls everything she loves out of this world and swirls it all together into one big marbleized life.” I’m learning just these same things from my daughter, too.

    Maybe I’ll send you a photo of me in my cute shoes (once I get dressed. Went to drop-ff in my yoga clothes.) 😉

    Thanks so much for your writing!

  3. I went to Catholic school from preschool all the way through high school! Uniforms were my way of life for a very long time. I completely understand your dabbles in fashion and I saw so much of my own daughter in this post! She 4.5. Loves to pick out her outfit the night before. Lays it all out. It’s a process. I get so tickled watching her. Sooooo unlike my boys. I know it’s stereotypical, but they could not care less what is on their bodies so long as it’s not too itchy or scratchy. 🙂 Cheers to swirling it all together.
    sarah reinhart recently posted..simple joy week 8: a walrus and her rootsMy Profile

  4. I think our kids would be fast friends.
    I love everything about Scarlet, and that includes her beautiful shoes and the way she matches her clothes together.
    I like to believe that we’re an adorable mother and daughter combo – slightly messy hair and slightly mismatched, but pieces of timely trends are somewhere in that.
    Tamara recently posted..The Beauty In The Sick Day.My Profile

  5. At age 9, Grace still hasn’t hit a crossroads, either. She loves brightly-colored pants and her tuxedo T-shirt, with Converse.

    Rory at Time Out for Mom just wrote a post about us all being a collection of spices from our parents and grandparents and other places …

    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..Ice Up, No. 89 – It’s Been an Awesome RunMy Profile

  6. Oh absolutely Tricia. It is a big messy messy mess. We can do all the things and I think that the swirling together is what makes it uniquely ours. And sometimes a pair of shoes fills me with an undeniable sense of happiness too!!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..NYC Half RecapMy Profile

  7. “She breezily pulls everything she loves out of this world and swirls it all together into one big marbleized life”

    YES. Yesyesyes.

    This is what I want for my daughter, and also? What I want for me.
    Helena Eriksson recently posted..Growls in both earsMy Profile

  8. I can relate to this so much! My life is so messy and unorganized but I like it that way and I love to enjoy the pretty little things too. Our daughters we get along so well:)
    Katie recently posted..Self Doubt about HomeschoolingMy Profile

  9. Yes! Being a good mom doesn’t mean we can’t have cute shoes(those are flip flops for me). I tend to go with comfort in my dress, but I’ve also learned that comfort can also be cute and I feel better when I’m not dressed like a slob!
    Shell recently posted..Worrying When He’s Just Like Me: Pour Your Heart OutMy Profile

  10. I wish I took more time for fashion and really paid attention to what I wore… I kind of just throw things together and hope for the best.
    Leighann recently posted..The Swaying of my SoulMy Profile

  11. It’s amazing that as you get older you allow your world to widen a bit and you realize you can be more than one way and enjoy a variety of things. Great post.
    Melissa @ Completely Eclipsed recently posted..10 MonthsMy Profile

  12. I had a similar revelation last summer. I started thinking “Why can’t I wear that? Why can’t I buy cute shoes?” I think I got a bit stuck in my fashion choices. It was nice to discover that I did not have to be. 🙂
    Kim` recently posted..LayersMy Profile

  13. I loved this so much. I also went to Catholic school and painfully experienced the great fashion divide during the middle schools. And some days – I need pretty nail polish and a cute pair of shoes to make me feel happy. That’s totally okay.
    Lisa @ Atypical Familia recently posted..Fear, Failure and Letting Go of Words That HurtMy Profile

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