I stood in the soccer cleats section of the big box athletic store, a retailer for any sport and any size person. The sale rack was lined with Nike, Adidas and a Diadora or two. I had no idea what made for a good cleat, I was just the mom who paid for them and drove the players to practices and games. What I did know: my daughters were in the market and I was on a budget.
A thought seeped to the forefront of my mind, getting stronger the longer I tried to ignore it. When was the last time you bought running shoes for yourself? I couldn’t remember, but I knew it had been years. I’d run several 10Ks a few babies ago and even did a sprint marathon a decade ago. But in recent years? The needs of the family soccer players had, and still were, taking priority over the needs of this soccer mom.
I’ll just go and look at the women’s shoes, I thought. And then the reality of two pairs of needed cleats stared me down. I couldn’t swallow the cost of a third pair. Even if the family budget would allow for it, I felt guilty putting that kind of cash down on me, for what? To walk through our neighborhood at a slightly more brisk pace than normal?
We drove out of the parking lot with two pairs of new shoes – of the cleat variety.
A few weeks later as I tried to motivate myself once again to move from my sofa to the treadmill, the shoes came back to mind. What was wrong with spending a little money on my own exercise gear? Maybe it would help me feel excited about getting those workout clothes on if some of them were purchased in the last decade. But mostly I knew it would be a symbolic purchase that I am worth taking care of too.
When my husband pulled in the driveway a few hours later I told him I had an errand to run. I got in the minivan and drove back to the big box store, this time running shoes for adult-sized feet were the mission. I bought a pair (on clearance, I can’t help it I’m allergic to full price) and a pink water bottle. Because who doesn’t want to drink more water when it’s shaded in pink?
Once home I put on the shoes and laced them up. There were no 10Ks in my near future. Spending money on myself wasn’t going to give me more value as a person. But having a few new things just for me was a practice in prioritizing my needs and my health in the midst of my family’s demands. A visual reminder that it was okay to put my name on my list of people to care for.
As a mom to four girls, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma.
She is the author of Loving My Actual Life, An Experiment In Relishing What’s Right In Front of Me and The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.