Have you ever considered the existential weight of your footwear choices? Ever given any thought to the idea that whether one wears boots or flip-flops or sneakers on a given day might actually matter, nay, may change the course of one’s entire life, or at least the grand timing of events in a life?
The fact that Cinderella was shod in glass slippers seems to really matter to her story ~ but what about my story? Yours?
I have just a bit of philosophical advice for you.
Always choose your shoes carefully. You never know when a prince might show up.
Almost-Mama is eight months pregnant and sitting in the exam room at her doctor’s office, trying to remove her knee-high boots. She had worn tall boots to work that morning, professional and stylish, but now it is the late afternoon and, due to the girth of a profoundly round belly and newly-swelling ankles, she couldn’t get her own boots off her own feet. Tug, tug, tug, to no avail. She is having trouble reaching her feet, and the tugging required to remove these over-snug boots is simply more than she has.
Standing from the chair and poking her head out of the exam-room door, she beseeches the first kind soul she sees, a doctor, not hers. “I’m so embarrassed, but could you help me get my stuck boots off?” she asks. “Of course,” the doctor laughs, entering the room. Almost-Mama perches once again on the side of an exam-room chair and, smiling, raises her leg to Kind-Doctor who takes it into her confident hands with a grin to pull the boot off.
Tug, tug, tug. Pulling shoes off ~ an antithetical Cinderella story.
Tug, tug, tug, this time a bit harder ~ we insist on things when we must. Boot finally budges and flies off into capable doctor hands.
And Almost-Mama’s waters break. At eight months, thirty-six weeks. Swish, swoosh.
One quick exam later and the doctors (and nurses and general staff who have gathered to giggle at such a story – waters breaking at recent boot-tugging event) all agree – it’s time to go to the hospital.
“Did you drive yourself here?” the doctor asks. Yes. “Can you drive yourself to the hospital?” Yes. “My husband is out of town. Shall I call him?” Almost-Mama inquires. Most definitely. Call him right now. “Do you have someone to call to bring you a bag?” Kind-Doctor wants to know. Yes.
So this becomes the new birthing plan.
“But I have nothing to wear,” realizes Almost-Mama as she and all of her new best friends hovering at the door frame of the examination room suddenly understand that her old work clothes cannot be donned in their current waterlogged condition.
A nurse arrives with a hospital gown in hand and a question on her face. Will this gown work? Almost-Mama tries it on. Won’t work, everyone decides. Too risky for driving oneself to the hospital. Another gown is produced for Almost-Mama and she experiments with this duo-ensemble ~ one gown for the front and one for the back.
The audience is still sartorially unsatisfied.
The goodly doctor has quietly gone and now she returns with a pair of her own clean scrubs in hand. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo! Cinderella quick-dresses and profusely thanks the fairy godmothers of obstetrics. Dressed in borrowed scrubs, she is ready to dash off to the hospital ball.
See you tonight, the smiling doctor waves her blessing.
But wait. What about shoes? Her tall boots, the instigators of the day’s theatrics, would barely come off her feet ~ there is no way they will go back on.
How does Cinderella go to the ball if she has no shoes?
On the road, Somewhere in Arkansas
Almost-Dad is on his way to a speaking engagement in Arkansas, a three full hours away from Memphis, when he gets the text.
Mom: Hey. Turn around and come back ~ my water just broke.
Dad: Is this a joke?
Mom: No joke. I’m on my way to the hospital now. Come home. We are having a baby tonight.
Frantic Almost-Dad turns his car around as fast as a car can be turned and heads eastward toward home. In this panicked moment, he cannot know nor can he believe it, but be assured: he will make it there in time. The ball cannot start without him for the clock has not yet struck the magical hour.
The Cinderella story is all about good timing. And shoes.
Back Home in Memphis
How does one go to the ball when she has no shoes, you ask? The answer is most simple ~ barefooted.
Barefoot and extremely pregnant, scrubs-clad Almost-Mom shuffles her way out to her car, drives herself to the hospital, searches for a spot and parks in the lot as if it were any other normal day. But alas, it is not any normal day. Time’s majestic clock will strike in just a few short hours and her life will begin again.
this is simply the way Cinderella’s story goes.
The lady at the hospital check-in desk looks up and sees a scrubby and shoeless woman shuffling alone through the sliding glass doors. We are expecting you, she chuckles and escorts Nearly-Mom to the ballroom.
Cinderella has arrived. The music begins to swell.
It seems there is indeed existential weight in the footwear choices of a day.
Germantown Methodist Hospital
The kindly doctor arrives just after the stroke of midnight, scrub-clad, the apparent dress code for this evening’s fete. A giddy Chorus has gathered throughout the course of the evening to cheer on Cinderella and her timely groom (he made it!), laughing and singing and texting and photographing and the good doctor now addresses them with a grin.
This dance is just about to begin. Will you all be staying and dancing with us? Scrubby-Doctor asks.
Not this time, retort Cinderella and her groom in unison. This dance is just for the two of us, nay, the three of us. The noisy Chorus is ushered to the waiting room to do what waiters do ~ twiddle our thumbs and sip on diet sodas and look down at our shoes.
It’s almost time.
The stage is set and all the players are in the right places. The delivery room clock strikes one and, just at the appointed moment, Cinderella’s charming prince finally arrives.
And she names him Teddy.