Monday, 16 January 2012

Mum Shoes

I had a day at work last week, just as a general getting-back-into-the-swing-of-things, find-out-what's-what type of business. I was leaving the office to have lunch with a colleague and a newer member of staff who has popped up while I've been off on maternity leave. The newer member of staff is not familiar that I have somewhat of a ...footwear reputation at work (indeed, I was greeted by one of the senior practitioners with the cry of 'I look forward to you and your shoes coming back to work'. My mother always told me I had too many shoes and I would never get to wear them all, so bloody minded swine that I am, I do try and wear them all. And they're useful if you feel you need to bring out an accent colour, and - I continue to assert - the wearing of a heel instantly lowers your BMI. Anyway, enough shoe justification).

As we were leaving the office, she looked down at my sage green suede effect Mary Janes and declared loudly:

"Those aren't Mum Shoes!"

Au contraire.

I've written before about the mum-prefix, but it's been bothering me ever since this shoe comment was made. I am a mother. These are my shoes. If those aren't 'mum shoes', then what are? And, interestingly enough, the woman who made this pronouncement has 3 children herself, and a degree from Oxford, and she wasn't in work dressed for childcare either. What I'm trying to say is, she's obviously bright, she's a mother too, she hadn't arrived in a professional environment dressed in a tracksuit, yet still the pernicious expectation exists - even in mothers - that mum = dowdy. Yet this was one of the things I got stuck on in my 'show everyone you're coping' period - do your hair, wear proper shoes, good forbid you should appear (and I hate myself for saying it) - mumsy. This bullshit hides in all of us; these pernicious myths abide.

Pish, I say. Pish.

And, just in case you are interested - pony skin leopard print ballet flats are today's shoe of choice.

These are also mum-shoes.


  1. hahahaha

    but yea, you can't win... wearing nice clothes means you clearly care more about yourself than your child, because as you're choosing your footwear your child could be in a corner sucking an electricity socket... you should come into work in a potato sack...but if you come into work in a potato sack you've completely 'let yourself go' and you're not 'coping' and maybe you're DEPRESSED?!?! (keep your distance she could turn homocidal any second...) hah

    I have stupid wide feet, I've been avoiding 'mum shoes' since I was 14...

  2. I am a Dad (and Grampa to boot).
    I have one pair of black shoes for when I have to wear them.
    One pair of softer blue shoes for the rest of the time.
    And a pair of sandals for when the sun shines.
    I also wear slippers, often.
    They are Dad-shoes - it all seems a lot less complicated

  3. I'm a Dad. I have shoes. Trainers from an outdoors supply store, so really walking shoes that aren't boots; my work shoes and a pair of cheap slippers from IKEA.

    Are they Dad-shoes?

    Not until they embarrass your children. I posit that no shoes, or clothes, can be Mum- or Dad- prefixed until such time as our childrens are old enough to be mortified by us wearing them. Then, and only then, do any items of apparel gain the right to a prefix.

    However, I do wear my Lapels of Fatherhood that many people take to mean that I am scatter-brained, over-tired and generally incapable of working effectively...

  4. I've got a confession to make, as Dave Grohl observed. I had forgotten I did this, but once my husband went out and bought a pair of shoes which I - let me be honest about it - mildly bullied him about until they showed the first signs of wear, and then I sent him to get a new pair. They were a pair of brown lace-up 'pork pie' shoes with a raised hem around the edge of the toe. My objection? The fact that both my father and father-in-law own such a style of shoes. Yes, I know, for all my ranting, I do it to. They were Dad-shoes and they had to go.

    My husband is very excited that now he is a father he also qualifies for Dad-pants- underwear so unfeasibly large you could use them to camp at a festival.

    So maybe you're right, Consensus- maybe the whole thing is to do with the level of embarrassment your outfit can cause your child. Maybe it's not inherently an anti-mother thing, maybe it's a classic inter-generation thing.

    Either way, those were Dad shoes, and they had to go. They are now confined to the workshop where they do not offend me.