To solicit this type of remark one may think my clothing of choice was French knickers for today's event but this is not the case. Appropriate how, came my reply? 'Well, we are at a Kindergarten morning tea now aren't we” shot back the other mummy. Had I just been reprimanded by someone else’s mother?
“Oh, I apologize; I was unaware that Kindy morning teas had a shoe code of conduct”. A tutt and a head shake from the enemy and I am instantly relegated to rebel status.
Let me start from the beginning.
There is an outlandish set of unpublished regulations compiled and governed by a select faction of mother's in modern day society. A set of guidelines all women who transcend from happy-go-lucky single gal to married woman with child are encouraged to follow.
Which political party prepared these rules and who made them superior you may ask? Quite frankly, I don't recall voting them in.
My initiation to this bizarre sect came when I was about seven and a half months pregnant. Looking as glamourous as humanly possible for a woman in that state, I was cleverly concealing my ever-expanding girth in a stylish black ensemble. I was not experiencing any foot swelling and given I wasn't large enough to fit into my husband's pants, I was fairly confident I was doing okay. In a bid to feel somewhat glamourous and chic, I had teamed said black number with a pair of utterly stunning six inch stilettos.
Having effortlessly pulled off the look for an hour, I was confused when asked by random mother-of-two, when I was going to quit the heels and get my haircut. Aghast at her reference to both my shoes de jour & my locks I ask why she would say such a thing.
Apparently, it is just not 'done' that a woman in her later child-bearing state should wear a heel at all, let alone a six inch stiletto. Completely ignoring the hair rule for fear she would tell me it was going to fall out anyway, I simply enquired as to what I should be wearing? “Oh, a nice sensible court shoe at most” came her reply.
I'm sorry, what? A court shoe? Do women under the age of 40 still wear court shoes? Kitten heel or ballet flat, but court shoe? I don't think so!
Consequently I have discovered that these shoe rules transcend pregnancy and go right through to the younger years of motherhood. Enter the Kindergarten Mummy Mafia. To date I have discovered that these women wear, ballet flats, courts, kitten heels and bejeweled sandals so I run with the assumption that these are all acceptable.
Unfortunately for them, this is not my modus operandi. I wear heels. Big ones. A lot. I adore my ballet flats and the occasional sandal, but for the most part I wear heels. Given they are not the transparent Perspex platform variety I’m a little puzzled as to what the big issue is?
It's a heel. Not a leather corset and a bondage whip!
Apologies to the Mummy Mafia but I didn't get the memo! These guidelines weren't published in my copy of What to Expect When Your Expecting.
Had these regulations been in some kind of pre-motherhood contract I am here to tell you that I would have been negotiating the finer points of my stilettos. There is no way I would have sold out on these terms.
As a result, I am determined to prove my point at every available opportunity. I do not, and will not, conform to such ridiculous fashion constraints. Besides, I am dropping my child off to Kindergarten not working there for the day. It's not like I climb the playground slide in my heels, although I am confident I could.
This has clearly become a them versus us issue and as such I have found myself lobbying other mothers who look at my shoe of choice on any given day with a hint of melancholy. Don't worry; you too can wear these shoes, its okay! You are not going to have an indecency wrap smacked on you. It's not bearing four inches of cleavage they're heels for goodness sake!
In the car park a mother sighs at the sight of my six inch Chanel platforms; love the shoes, they remind me of my former life. Former life? Is she in the footwear protection program, unable to wear any shoes reminiscent of her life BC (before children)?
I was always of the opinion there were two types of people in this world, those who got the shoe thing and, well, men. Problem here is that we have a grey area. These women still love their shoes; they have just been bullied into believing motherhood negates their right to wear them. A ludicrous notion to say the least!
This makes for the worst kind of enemy. Like the smoker who has recently given up smoking and is proudly bearing an imaginary medal racking up ninety days. Many have become unapologetic crusaders for fresh air. Not being a smoker, I applaud their new found gusto, but the shoe thing I don’t get. Just because they've decided they can no longer wear them, doesn't give them the right to barrel over those who don't subscribe to this belief.
Upon further investigation I discover that shoes aren’t the only matter the Mummy Mafia takes issue with. There is the stay at home mothers versus the working mothers; the ones who wear too much make up versus the ones who go natural; and finally there are the ones who like their husbands versus the ones who don’t. Get caught up in more than one of these issues and you are in for all out war.
Infringement punishments range from disapproving stares to total social exile, and not just for the mother but for the child. While extreme cases have caused children to move institutions, for the most part the insurgent mother will merely put up with stern whispers and critical stares.
What happened to good old fashioned sisterhood?
When did mothering become a competitive sport? Who can look better than who post children, whose children are smarter, taller or prettier? Women of the world need to stop blaming magazines and celebrities for this insane cutthroat one-upmanship and turn their attention to the packs that hunt in Kindergarten car parks. They are the ones advocating this nonsensical behaviour.
The sisterhood of mothering should be one of compassion, support and good humour. We all have to deal with most of the same issues, who cares whether we do it in ballet flats or stilettos? A child won’t discriminate when they throw up their birthday party sugar excess all over your shoes!
Sadly, this utopic form of sisterhood does not exist and while it would be nice to believe this situation is going to change, it seems it is here to stay.
To this end I have just one piece of advice. Walk confidently, hold your head high, smile, and put one stunning six inch heel after the other.
© Tracey Gillinder, 2008