I always loved high heels. When I was twelve I practiced for hours in the upstairs hallway of my house (carpeted, thankfully) walking back and forth in them. As an adult, heels were a staple of my working wardrobe. I have never been described as tall, and I loved the added height they gave, but it was more than that. I loved the way they made me feel – powerful, sexy, and fully in control of any situation. Just their click-clacking sound gave me a confidence boost. Then suddenly I walked into my closet, took off my heels, and I have not put them on since.
A year ago I traded a successful, rising career of a marketing executive for the messy raising of a now-three-year-old. I knew it would be a life-style change, but it turned out to be an utter life change. When I left my marketing job, I could count the number of times I trimmed my son’s fingernails on my own hands. We outsourced everything – from cooking to cleaning – or it simply did not get done. I know many amazing, wonderful women who work full-time, juggle it all and have loving, cohesive families. Only I have never been a good juggler. I struggled to keep all the balls in the air, but my family was falling apart. It was only when I forgot about a monthly senior staff meeting – the type of work meeting you can count on as regularly as coffee breaks and office memos – that I realized how far my family, and especially I, had fell.
We survived day-to-day like primal beasts. Family meals came from restaurants served to us by surely waitresses. An exhausted silence always filled these gatherings, often ending with a tantrum (not always by the toddler). Laughter and joy were superficial and forced. When we did eat at home, the mythical homemade meal had been replaced by premade, prepared foods with the standard ingredients of too much salt, fat and money. Whether it was to eat, to feel brief joy, or to make it through the next day, we hemorrhaged money. I remember going to Target to buy clothes for the Mickster just so he would have clean clothes to wear the next day, and honestly wondering what the hell I would do for the day after. My family was a mess and it was anything but wonderful.
Fast-forward one-hellova-year later. Today we spent a lazy, rainy day doing laundry together in between kitchen science experiments, chasing imaginary dinosaurs, and building cardboard space ships. Of course, the highlight of the day for Mick was dumping the freshly folded clothes out of the basket. (Gravity, entertaining children since Newton.) There are long days of course, frustrations aplenty, and some days I honestly long for the ability to go into my old office, shut the door and have some actual alone time (this usually happens after the third candid appearance of either a boy, a dog, or a cat while I am trying to use the bathroom). But my family is happy. We laugh genuinely, deeply, and often. If I ever miss the click-clacking of my heels walking powerfully into an office, I just think of that laughter and I know this year has been more important to my family than any bit of work I did in my past life. I know if given the chance, I would hang my heels up all over again.
(Many, many thanks to my sister-in-law and her inspiration. Thanks, Manic Pixie Dream Mama!)