Saturday, June 03, 2006
Purple Shoe Money
Last week our Bible study did a lesson called "Where Do I Go to Sign Up For a New Body?" The point being - how we see ourselves directly relates to our ability to be intimate with our husbands. That we all see ourselves lacking. That our husbands, when they see us, just think "Wowzers" as my son-in-law Jeremy would say.

I gave them two assignments for the week. One - receive any compliments given. (Sorry this is a bit redundant with the Thursday 13 thing.) Don't negate them, say something like - "this ole thing, I paid $3 for it." And never, ever say "I'm fat." Husbands don't care, as long as you're available. The second was to think of women, not related to them, whose footsteps they aspired to follow in as they got older. I said, "Who do you want to be when you grow up?"

I've met women I admired. I've watched a few, thinking they might be a good mentor for me, only to be disappointed as I saw their bitterness, self-absorption, lack of service to others, etc. Heros don't come a dime-a-dozen.

I have one who has held up to hero-status over the long haul. She was my husband's boss's wife. She was little, but sassy enough to handle her three boys who towered over her. You didn't mess with her. She was raised Baptist, and cursed just enough that when she did you knew she was M.A.D. When I first met her I was expecting our second child. I knew nothing (sounds like Colonel Klink). Really - nothing. I couldn't cook, didn't know how to do a budget, decorate, deal with my husband's work schedule. I'd never had "play dates" with other mommies. Sarah, being my oldest - it's a wonder she survived, seriously.

I still remember going to Tris' house to play pinochle. I was nervous just to be there. Spouses shouldn’t be partners in card games so I was my husband's boss's partner. He ever-so-slightly growled at me and she called him a name, right in front of us, that stunned me. But he didn't growl again. She was sticking up for me.

She taught me how to take plain drapes and make them look custom. How to arrange furniture. Gave me stew and cookie recipes. I put the kids in daycare for the day and we spent it hanging wallpaper. I remember her showing me how to fix a tear in the paper. She said "there will be tears." Even then I knew it was a life lesson. There have been tears. They can be fixed.

I've seen her stay home while her husband moved states away on a temporary job assignment. She's lived through the losses her children have suffered; she's lost parents. Been brave enough to sell it all and start over - across the country. She came to our kids brownie ceremonies. She was my mentor whether she knew it or not. Most of what she taught me was never spoken.

Now I have a newborn granddaughter with some risks. It reminds me of being at a ballgame with Tris and her husband, Hubert. She was worried. I asked what about. She told me they had a grandson who had some medical tests that week, and she was concerned. I remember thinking then, as a young mother - it never ends. You worry over your children, then their children. Here I am, where she was then.

Our church hooks up older women with younger women for mentoring; alas I've become the older woman. Every woman I've mentored, no matter her age or stage of life, needed one lesson that Tris taught me. "Purple shoe money." She told me, no matter what the budget looks like, set aside some money that is just yours, to spend on purple shoes. She explained nobody needs purple shoes, but life isn't just about needs. We all should have something for whatever satisfies our soul. Husbands will never understand buying purple shoes. If they did they wouldn't be husbands, they'd be "partners". Over the years, even when the budget was tight I tucked away a little bit just for me. I'd save it up, plan what to buy. Our budget now is such that I can go buy whatever I want, within reason. I'm a cheap date. But there's a simple pleasure in knowing I can buy something and not justify it to anyone. I've spent my allowance on a chiminea my husband didn't think we needed. I've spent it on quilting fabric when it went beyond the reasonable. This past week I spent some on an IPOD on Ebay. My husband gets "purple shoe money" too. That sounds sissy so I tell him it's money "just for being so cute." He spends it on rubber worms, new bait casters, a once-a-year fishing trip to New York, and mostly on his wife and kids when we travel. But I know he likes having it - tucked up there in his underwear drawer. I've taught my daughters and daughter-in-law the purple shoe rule. I hope my son and son-in-laws get "just for being cute" cash. It's a good rule, I think.

Thank you Tris, for being my mentor, whether you knew it or not. For teaching me what you would have taught a daughter, had you had one. You’re still hero-worthy twenty-five years down the road.

I'm tagging anybody who reads this- who is your hero? Remember - no relatives!


  posted at 11:41 AM

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