Last week, I spent some time at a park, chatting with a friend while our three daughters played.
Now that it’s summertime, my purse is heavy with the extra gear of June and July. Insect repellant, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Snacks for long and lazy afternoons at the park.
I should have applied my daughter’s sunscreen while we were still at the library, to give it a full 20 minutes to sink into her skin. I was still thinking about that when I put the bottle back into my bag and encouraged her to go play.
As soon as I was caught up in conversation with my friend, my daughter needed help getting down from the jungle gym. That’s just how it goes.
After five years, I am used to the way motherhood feels so nebulous and also, so not about me.
It was a very good day aside from the fact that my daughter was in a whiny mood, but five-year-olds and moods are all par for the course.
When I woke up the next morning, something felt a little off. My face felt unusually tight and looked a little flushed across my cheeks and nose. It took a remarkably long time for me to realize that I’d been sunburned. Apparently, I’m getting old and the sun affects me a little bit differently these days.
It wasn’t until the second day out when my forearms began to itch. Actually, it’s now been three days since we visited the park and my arms are itching like crazy.
I didn’t get badly burned. Just enough. My pale skin is a little pink in certain patches but not peeling.
Of course, this discomfort could have been avoided if I had simply remembered to wear sunscreen. I won’t lie… it’s the kind of thing I don’t give a lot of thought to.
Not for me.
Like lots of other mamas, I tend to make my own needs an afterthought. It’s not intentional, it’s just that motherhood seems to require so much.
So much of my brain. So much of my body. So much that I forget to wear sunscreen.
But I’ve been trying to take better care of myself.
Actually, I’ve been working on getting back on my feet since my unplanned pregnancy in 2014.
Over the past five years, I’ve moved something like eleven times in four different states. Often, my daughter and I were homeless and had to live in the spare bedrooms of strangers through one acquaintance or another.
But the past year has been especially odd because I finally started to pursue my own writing career and with that, I began earning much better money for the first time in my life.
Through it all, I’ve discovered that it’s always easy to splurge here or there on my kid. I’ve got that little push inside of me where I want to give my child a better life than what I knew.
It’s taken me an even longer time to splurge on nice things just for myself. My first splurge was on bath towels. From Target. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful towels and it was a big deal.
But it wasn’t exactly indulgent. Not really. Plus, it wasn’t really just for me.
Well, now, I think I have finally found my splurge.
Earlier this year, I wrote a little bit about needing to buy new shoes. I have chronic plantar fasciitis, which means I can wind up hobbling around on painful feet first thing in the morning. And at the end of the day.
While walking a lot seems to exacerbate the condition, sitting doesn’t mean you’re home free. As soon as I stand up, the pain rushes back and it takes a good 10 minutes for me to walk remotely normal.
The hobble of plantar fasciitis in both feet is terrible and embrrassing, but what’s even worse is how much professional advice for the condition varies.
The one thing I’d learned for sure about my foot pain was that wearing shoes, in general, was better than going barefoot at home. But I was pretty much unhappy with every shoe I owned.
For a long time, I wore slip-on sneakers that pretty much crushed my feet into submission. They prevented a lot of the heel and arch pain, but not all of it. Plus, they replaced much of the plantar fasciitis pain with tenderness and bruising on the top of my foot.
So, I decided I was in the market for a new shoe. One that was comfortable and pretty. What I really wanted were flats, but I hadn’t had great experiences with any flats so far.
I started Googling “plantar fasciitis flats” and found tons of blogs where women mentioned a brand named Tieks. I went to their website and saw pretty shoes, but they start at $175.
Um, I’m still a single mom. I can’t spend that much on a pair of shoes… right?
But I kept finding testimonials of women saying they wore these shoes despite having plantar fasciitis and that they loved them.
Since Tieks has a generous return policy, I decided to take the leap. And I fully expected to return them because they wouldn’t feel good on my feet.
But when the shoes arrived, I couldn’t help but get swept up in the whole unboxing experience. Each pair arrives in its own signature teal box with your Tieks neatly folded up inside.
The box is topped with a ridiculously beautiful flower which my daughter immediately discovered made the perfect headband. And each order arrives with a handwritten note of gratitude from somebody on the Tieks team. For Mother’s Day, they gave out a set of blank notes too.
Tucked beneath your shoes is a black pouch for your Tieks along with a foldable teal bag for your heels–if you’re into that kind of thing.
As beautiful as the shoes were, there’s something really special about the whole “gift” feeling you get from the shoes. Like a lot of other moms, it’s not often that I get to open up a gift or anything else that’s so perfectly packaged for me.
Not only that, but the waste is minimal. These boxes are much smaller than your standard shoebox. And the shoes aren’t filled with cardboard or tissue to keep their shape.
I ordered my regular size, which is a US women’s 10.5, knowing that an 11 is always too big and uncomfortable. But when I tried on the shoes they did feel a bit too tight around my toes.
Tieks offers side-by-side comparisons, so I asked them to send me the next size. Again, I fully expected to return them, but I wound up loving the size 11s… and I guess I developed a new shoe addiction.
Because now I have 8 pairs of Tieks and I don’t wear anything else.
I can’t help but feel a twinge of mom guilt because never in my life have I collected designer shoes. And I’ve certainly never purchased 8 pairs of shoes for myself in just a matter of months.
But this is also the first time in years that my feet don’t consistently hurt. They rarely bother me at all.
Personally, I find that wearing Tieks all day (including when I’m at home) helps prevent my usual flare-ups. If I happen to have a more active week where we aren’t at home as much and my feet do begin to ache, a brief bit of elevation combined with wearing my Tieks actually gets rid of the pain.
So, although mom guilt tells me to feel bad for having the nerve to splurge on beautiful and comfortable shoes in many colors, I can’t help but think I’d view things differently if I wasn’t a mom.
Women and mothers, in particular, seem to feel the need to truly deserve nice things before we can have them. We give our kids the world and make sure they have absolutely everything they need (and more).
And we do it without expecting them to be “worthy.”
Meanwhile, we debate whether or not we really deserve to splurge on ourselves, and often, we even miss out on the most basic of self-care opportunities. Like wearing sunscreen.
I found a splurge that I really love, and I wish I had been willing to treat myself a long time ago. And I’m hoping to do a better job of teaching my daughter that she is worthy of treating herself to some beautiful gifts too.
When it comes to my Tieks, I’ve still got my eye on a few different colors and prints, but I’m pretty happy with the way each pair I’ve bought has helped remind me that a little luxury in our day isn’t a bad thing. It can actually offer some relief since I can now hang out at the park without foot pain.
Of course, now the only question is when I can splurge again for the next pair on my list.
Probably not until I get a shelf for all of these shoes.