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January 10, 2022


Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.

Raising a special needs child can feel like you are wearing the worst shoe in the world. For me, it is a very uncomfortable skinny stiletto shoe. This shoe has the tallest skinniest heel ever, whose straps cut into your ankle and rips the flesh off of your toes because the front is too pointy. The blisters you get from wearing that shoe are horrendous. You had better tread carefully as you wear that shoe, for you can twist your ankle. There’s also a sharp rock logged inside the shoe’s sole that cuts into the foot’s arch, adding to its discomfort. Oh yeah, it can suck to wear that shoe.

My “friend” avoided me, and I found out why through the grapevine. My mother’s shoe (the one a mother wears as she watches her offspring have to live through their unwanted shoe) went on her foot two years after her family added to the population.

This “friend” was like me, a widow; this is the shoe we share. She didn’t also want to share my mother’s shoe. She had avoided me. She didn’t want to blame me, but she did, even though she knew full well I had nothing to do with the unwanted shoe presented to her family.

“I can’t help it,” said she, once we communicated. “I can’t help it if I took it out on you or even passed the blame on you. It’s because I know your shoe. I have seen your shoe, and, no offense, you just posted about your shoe, and you don’t paint a pretty picture about your shoe.”

She’s right.

I am going through what some call the worse part about wearing the shoe. “You’ve had 14 years to get used to your shoe, and when it gets unbearable, you race to the online chat and forensically detail how fucking bleak it is to wear that shoe. I can’t handle my shoe as it is, so fuck your posts because your shoe is hideous, and I’m not ready to handle knowing how bad this shoe will feel in 12 years. I didn’t think any of my kids would ever have to wear your shoe.” Unbeknownst to me, my venting post on a private online chat for widows came only days after finding out her offspring would have to wear my shoe.

One day in my recent past, my shoe got very uncomfortable; it tore through my foot and ripped pieces of flesh off my toes as the high heel broke and twisted my ankle. Although it is no fault of its own, the shoe doesn’t fit differently. The shape and make of the shoe can’t change; it will fit on my foot as it does. I vented onto a private online chat group on how shitty it is to wear that shoe all by myself since my husband died.

Yeah, that’s how I can see the shoe. I see it as a shitty shoe. The shoe got even shittier when I lost my husband.

Why do I see it as a shitty shoe?

The shoe wearers can universally say the following: it sucks to watch people stare at the shoe grotesquely when exhibiting behaviors, unlike other shoes. Watching the shoe not reach its milestones like all the other shoes can be utterly painful. Some, if not most of the shoe wearers, have families that avoid interacting with the shoe or being seen in public out of embarrassment and fear, especially as the shoe ages. People who do not wear the shoe can comfortably distance themselves from understanding any condition perceived as abnormal.

Yes, I vent online when I can’t handle my shoe. It can hurt very much to walk on it.

Please don’t misunderstand; I love my shoe. I love how the shoe can walk on its own and take care of itself. I love its resilience and how sweet it is to hug my shoe. I have its back, but I hate how isolating it is to wear the shoe.

“You’ve had 14 years to develop the calluses you need to walk on it,” said a bystander. “Your recent online post was like foretelling the future to the newbie. Can you remember how bad you felt when that shoe first fell on your foot? Can you empathize with new inductees of that unfortunate shoe just a little bit, especially when you post about it?”

For the record, I’d never wish this shoe on anyone. But to hell with that lady who said my shoe was hideous. Fuck that bitch for telling me I couldn’t vent about it. Yeah, I love that shoe, but I can’t help it if my feet hurt so much that I have to post about it.

That altercation caused a chain reaction of other unwelcomed comments from friends. “You’re shitty! The shoe isn’t as ugly as the bitch who wears it. Maybe my ex-husband can write the article about why he abandoned his shoes. What if your shoe read half the shit you wrote? What if your shoe understood anything you said about it?”

Suddenly I heard the following phrase: “Why can’t you focus on the positive parts of your shoe?” Believe me; for sanity’s sake, I do all the time.

My retort to that woman and other people was also to say the following, “What sucks for you is that you no longer have that comfortable distance from that shoe. It isn’t easy to get away from it anymore. You have to learn, like my mother and I did, how to navigate your life with this shoe.”

(I lost friends because of that comment, and NO, I AM NOT SORRY I SAID IT EITHER!)

It hurt me very much to know that I could no longer comfortably distance myself from that shoe. The day that shoe went on my foot, all great expectations of being a mom went south. I had imagined conversing, watching it win sports trophies, and watching it make friends. Calluses on my foot did form over time. There are days when that shoe isn’t intolerable. My shoe does have friends, and my shoe has made different achievements that I can be very proud of as a mother. One achievement, to put it very bluntly, is its ability to toilet independently. I know older shoes that can’t do that. I feel very bad for those shoe wearers.

Before you judge me, please note that my shoe is nonverbal and severe in condition. Yes, the severity of special needs does play a factor in how tolerable it is to wear the shoe. Be it as it may, I know my shoe is functional and as capable of a human being as the universe has planned it to be. My shoe is still brilliant, charming, and very beautiful. However, wearing that shoe can affect marriages, finances, family relationships, social relationships, not to mention how much of a bitch I have to be to defend my shoe and everything it has the right to experience.

My husband died, therefore I had no choice but to get comfortable wearing that shoe all day long, 365 days a year, 24/7, all by myself.

All I have to say is, just because we moms bitch, it doesn’t mean we don’t love our shoes.

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