There’s a funny vantage point we all have regarding other’s lives, and that vantage point is called an opinion.
That opinion is sometimes seated in wanting others to avoid our mistakes or learn from the life lessons we as individuals have had, and sometimes those opinions are from a place of judgment. Regardless of the reason behind that opinion, they are still just opinions. Nothing about one’s opinion is fact, and no one has the right to impose one’s opinion on someone else either through stating that opinion, or through judgment.
The harsh truth is that each of our roads is unique, and on that road we wear our own shoes, because no one else’s will fit.
Now, I used to covet Jimmy Choo’s and Manolo Blahnik’s and goodness knows I couldn’t afford them, but I’d splurge on some Stuart Weitzman’s from time to time and they always hurt my feet. I wanted gorgeous shoes regardless of what I was wearing whether it was jeans or an evening gown. That’s the life I thought I was leading too. Then I got pregnant and between my aching knees and sore back I settled into the ugliest slip-on Merrill’s I could buy because they kept those body parts from screaming at me and as a bonus I didn’t need my husband to help me tie my shoes.
Fast forward five years and I shattered my leg and now I never wear high heels because my leg hates me if I do and makes me pay a severe price if I disobey the rules of my body for my vanity’s sake. Hell, I even went barefoot for 4 hours on cold cement in a 40-degree outdoor venue for my nephew’s wedding reception because my feet were not going to tolerate my heels a second longer, and it’s not that I had given into vanity, but I had given into the dress code which was “After 5.”
Now I give this shoe explanation for a very specific reason. Some would say Manolo’s are the only way to go. Others might say that they only wear tennis shoes. Some might say I needed to suck up the dress code for that reception and keep my shoes on and how dare I go barefoot. The thing is though, it’s my feet and my body. My 49-year journey has physically had some issues that define what I’m able to tolerate, and that’s my truth and no one else’s.
Now, let’s flip to what my point is.
It’s nice to have an opinion as a parent and advocate on what all other parents and advocates should and shouldn’t do, but the truth is we don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes but our own. We have no idea what someone else is going through. We have no idea what they can and cannot afford. We have no idea if the job they have is barely getting them by. We have no idea if they work for an incredibly toxic boss or company who makes their lives hell. We have no idea if that stay-at-home mom is doing ok or just faking it. We have no idea if another’s marriage is ok or not. We have no idea…about literally anything going on in another’s life so why do we think we get to have an opinion about how someone else should…insert opinion here.
Here’s my truth, in as much as I can share, which is limited because I have a career I don’t want to destroy.
I work full time, I always have. Staying home was not and is not an option for my family. We flat out could not have kept a roof over our heads and food on the table for many years if I had opted to stay at home. That was exacerbated by a year of unemployment suffered by my husband during the 2008-2011 recession. Remember that one? That was when the “mortgage bubble” popped and the unemployment rate was the highest it had been in decades and the country was literally teetering on the brink of another depression. My newborn child had medical needs too, and my income was the only thing that kept us housed and fed.
In time we got back onto our feet, but then our son hit the dyslexia wall and we dove in with everything we had. He wasn’t going to allow me to tutor him. I had been a part of his trauma and that needed time to heal; but at the same time, I had just started with a new company that, well, frankly, wasn’t family centric. It was corporation first, family second. Because of this philosophy there was a very small vacation / sick leave allotment, and everyone who has a little one knows that we all burn all of our sick leave / vacation time on our kid’s illnesses, at least I did.
I won’t elaborate further, but while I always wanted to get training, the combination of my family dynamic and my work environment did not make that possible. In 2022 I made some very hard sacrifices in order to take 3 training classes. One was 100% virtual and the other two were not. I had to do one of the classes while on FMLA recovering from surgery and had to time my surgery around the class so I could swing it. The surgery was necessary and without the surgery there was no other way I could have taken the class. The surgery did however make the class unnecessarily difficult. Sitting in a chair for 8 hours, 5 days in a row, even though it was virtual, was extremely challenging and my pain meds made it hard to focus.
Then I signed up for a 4th class and after 2 sessions I just couldn’t anymore. It was late at night and after a long day of work and balancing my family life and very athletic child, I just couldn’t continue. It was just more than I could handle and the burn out was very real.
I only have one child too. If I had more then there is no way I could have managed any of the trainings I have taken. I am convinced of that truth because I know how difficult it was for me to manage with even one child and my already brutal schedule and list of commitments.
I write this because there have been some rather toxic posts across social media stating that everyone can get OG trained so that they, the parent, can provide to their child what their child needs. Well, those OPINIONS assume an enormous amount about everyone else’s lives that have a child with a language based learning disability. Time, and the finances to afford training, are both privileges that not all people possess. Sadly not all realize the position of privilege they sit in when they make such grand sweeping statements, nor do they realize the detriment to the community as a whole when such grand sweeping statements are made.
Another example of this obtuse position of privilege, was made by someone who refused to sign The Parent Letter because I had stated that not all parents are in a position to homeschool. This person stated that I was wrong and ALL parents can homeschool, and I chose not to respond because there are some opinions not worth debating because it is clear when they will not change their mind, and this was such a case. As signatures were 100% voluntary, it was her right to disagree with me and not sign. I wasn’t going to debate the percentage of single parent households out there, the poverty line, the number of people working multiple jobs to keep food on the table and some form of stable residence, the percentage of illiterate adults across the country, or more to support my position. She viewed my statement as my opinion. I viewed her statement as her opinion. In the end, we were walking in different shoes.
As advocates we each have a responsibility to recognize our positions of privilege and monitor how that position colors our public comments. We want to help, not hurt, and I believe in my soul that no one intends to harm anyone. Sometimes we just forget.
So let’s think about the shoes we walk in, and what shoes others may occupy, and be kind.
3 comments on “Shoes”
Very well written.
I enjoy reading your posts.
If I may ask. How old is your son now?
How well is he reading?