I wore the wrong sneakers to the park the other day. I wore my black fabric sneakers that my co-worker Kaliff jokingly called my “skater shoes.” They have zero support, but I love how they look. They look young. They look simple and fun. They look cool. Uncomplicated. Unencumbered. Unpretentious. Unstressed. They look like the life I’d like to have.
But today I’m paying the price for running around at the park wearing those sneakers. My shins are killing me — so much that I took three Tylenols. That’s one Tylenol too many. They were extra-strength.
But man, did we have fun! We ran from the “little kid side” to the “big kid side” over and over. My daughter is right in that nether region, and it’s all so new for me. And her.
In those sneakers, I kept up with her climbing the rock wall, running across the shaky bridge, and coming down the “big beautiful tunnel” slide as she called it. In those sneakers, I didn’t have time to let my claustrophobia keep me from following her down that tunnel slide or my fear of heights keep me from climbing to the top of the jungle gym. Those sneakers seemed to turn me into the girl I used to be and the mom I always thought I’d be.
I moved faster in those sneakers than normal because that’s what it seemed I should do. These sneakers are what the kids wear, and the young moms, and even my old pal “my inner child” has a pair like these I’m sure.
So now I’m thinking about changing my hair. And the sentence that keeps coming out of my mouth is “I love ____, but I’m too old for that.”
Fill in the blank with pastel pink, Kelly Osbourne lavender gray, goth-ish dark auburn, chunky bleached-out streaks. Anything I come up with, I overthink. And I start to doubt my freedom to be who I want to be and how I want to look. And suddenly looking at pictures of hairstyles and hair colors on the computer turns into a therapy session. My hair never seems to evolve, but I do.
I get brave and bold and more comfortable in my own skin. I try not to overthink the implications of having unnaturally colorful hair or sequined eyeglasses. Or even being that almost 50-year-old mom with the 3-year-old running through Nomahegan Park in the wrong sneakers, having more fun than any of the other mothers with their normal-colored hair.
I try not to think that I’m too old for really taking a good shot at the only career I’ve ever really wanted. Well, maybe the two careers I’ve ever really wanted: mommy and author.
I write my own story now. That includes wearing the wrong sneakers, even if I know my shins will hurt the next day. I will color my hair some unnatural color sometime soon. I will no longer overthink the things that make me happy. I will embrace them.