The Shoes and The Transit of Venus

Please allow me to introduce you to…

Abby’s Shoes.

Or, as I like to call them,

The Questionable Parenting of a Young Teenager.

Abby’s Shoes are 8″ tall.


Sort of.

Well, OK. They’re not really eight inches tall.

I just said that they’re eight inches tall because then when I tell you that I let my 13 year old daughter wear five-inch heels to her 8th grade graduation, you’ll be all, “Whew! That is SO MUCH BETTER THAN EIGHT INCHES!”

In fact, The Shoes may not be five inches tall. I’m not sure exactly how tall they are because I’ve avoided measuring them out of my profound sense of Mama Chagrin and also my need for plausible deniability. I want to be able to say things like,

Which shoes are you talking about? Oh, Abby’s shoes? Those little two-inch things? You think they’re too high for an 8th grader? Huh. Weird.

Like that.

On Monday, my baby graduated from the 8th grade.

WOOHOO! Congratulations, Abby!

Which was an awesome achievement eclipsed only by her ability to convince her mama to let her buy

The Shoes.

I’m not sure what to say to justify The Shoes.

Just a year ago, I forbid the purchase of a similar pair, although those shoes bore a zebra print with a tiny red bow at the toe. I believe I said something that included the words “no daughter of mine” and “hooker shoes,” but it’s all something of a blur.

What difference does a year make?

Perhaps I’m more tired this year than last?

Or she caught me in a moment of weakness?

Or I suffered a temporary aneurysm?

Or she spent the year making amazing, mature choices so often that I realized they’re just shoes and I thought it was a good idea to allow her a measure of freedom despite my discomfort?

Or polkadots instead of zebra print makes all the difference?

I don’t really know, but I’m guessing that there was some combination of all of the above, plus a strange aligning of the planets on the Eve of the Transit of Venus, that resulted in the Triumph of the Shoes (thanks a lot, Venus)…

…and a very happy girl.

When I was the 8th grade graduate in my long, modest, white lace Jessica McClintock dress reminiscent of Nellie’s wardrobe on Little House on the Prairie and shoes I can’t even remember but which were undoubtedly flat, I didn’t know that graduations aren’t just for the graduates. Nope. I had no idea that graduations are also for the parents and the caregivers and the teachers and the champions that helped propel us forward.

Now that I’m a mama, though, I understand to my marrow what we mean by our gathering phrases like The Cloud of Witnesses and The Village, and I find relief in the potent truth that I do not raise my children in isolation. And that’s why I found myself on Monday night feeling profoundly privileged to sit with my comrades in the graduation audience as we listened to the enthusiastic strains of the middle school band’s pomp and circumstance and gazed at our bright hopes for the future and hushed our littler kids with promises that the ceremony wouldn’t last forever and that we’d feed them cake when it was done.

It seemed somehow perfect, amidst our continuous, inevitable rushing and moving and doing, that we paused for just the smallest span of time on the Eve of the Transit of Venus to note the journey and celebrate the milestone of graduation. It was a precipice time. A brief and breathless stop before the plunge onward. An acknowledgement that our own transit is only a speck against the enormous brilliance of the sun but that it’s still somehow important enough for a nod of recognition that the journey began long before this moment and will continue long after it.

And the Shoes held against this backdrop? Ah, the Shoes, the Shoes, the SHOES that are too high and too grown up and too TOO for this mama to take with complete graciousness because the Shoes are the symbol I can’t ignore that my daughter is in transition, and that her mama is pulled inexorably along by the gravity of growing up.

And yet I find myself awkwardly grateful for The Shoes. And for the Transit of Venus. And the Growing Up of The Girl. And for the inevitability of them all. Because I suspect that they’re more right in their tenacious path than I ever am with my comfortable reluctance.

This is my incredibly talented, deeply funny, smart, savvy, lovely 8th grade graduate…

Or, as I like to call her,

My Baby.

Congratulations, Baby Girl, on your 8th grade graduation.
Thank you for pulling me impatiently along with you.
I love you, and I love you, and I love you.

Your Proud Mama 

(P.S. Nice shoes.)


Psst… all photos in this post are courtesy of Mike McConaughey.
Thanks, Mike! 

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9 responses to “The Shoes and The Transit of Venus”

  1. Thankful that I am done raising my girls. If my son wants shoes like that, I guess I’ll have something different to deal with.
    She is beautiful!

  2. My oldest will be officially a Junior High Schooler at 11:45 tomorrow afternoon when the final bell of the school year rings. I’m not sure I’m ok with that…. or with the way boys are noticing her. Or with having to buy her a bigger bra or feminine products. It’s scary.

  3. Oh yes. I JUST bought heels for my 12 year old. I’d been putting her off for quite a while, saying she was just too young, but we were out of state, shopping for a dress and shoes for her grandpa’s funeral. And suddenly the shoes didn’t really seem so important anymore, and I kept thinking that her grandpa would have liked how grown up she looked. So I said yes, and she was so happy, and my little girl isn’t so little anymore. “because the Shoes are the symbol I can’t ignore that my daughter is in transition, and that her mama is pulled inexorably along by the gravity of growing up.” Yep.

  4. Such a beautiful girl…such a clever Mama…you are blessed with each other and we are blessed with you, Beth! Yet another perfect post!
    I was reminded of my 8th grade graduation with my Jessica McClintock-like dress and high-heeled wooden clogs chose to wear. They made me taller than everyone else in my class and the noise of the wood was EXTREMELY loud and could not be surpressed as I walked across the stage…it seemed miles long!

  5. So sweet.

    Watching my son’s class graduate from eighth grade was like watching from inside a cage. Weren’t those girls just now wearing pink barrettes and ToughSkin jeans and get that cleavage away from my son!

    Your daughter looks lovely and sweet and perfect for a graduation ceremony. And, maybe you can borrow the shoes.

  6. some day she is going to laugh out loud in false horror and say “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????” (this is, of course, right after her own 13 year old daughter sees the picture) and then she will whisper “thank-you.” You are a very brave woman.

  7. She’s just gorgeous! And your conclusions are both beautiful and beautifully expressed. Happy Graduation Day to Abby. The shoes are indeed spectacular 😀 xo

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