As the last of the leaves find their way to the ground and the air carries the crisp promise of winter, our hearts and homes in Akron prepare for the warmth of the holiday season. Thanksgiving’s just around the corner, and Christmas isn’t far behind. It’s a time when our lives slow down just enough to appreciate the fullness of the year that’s passed, and the hustle and bustle of the coming festivities begins to bubble up in anticipation. I was searching through my google photos and found this photo of a pile of shoes, unexpectedly, I teared up. It made me think of so many things now that I have a son off to college and a daughter with only 2 years left in high school. I spent some time reflecting and want to share a story as familiar as the changing seasons—a tale of shoes, laughter, and the ever-changing journey of family.
Remember when those shoes were shiny and new? When they symbolized the first day of school, a soccer match, or a ballet recital? They’re more than just footwear; they’re milestones of our children’s lives. They’re the ‘I can do it myself’ and the ‘Look at me, Mom!’ They’re the silent witnesses to the late-night sneak-ins and the early-morning rush-outs. They’re what’s left behind when the house starts to quiet down, as the kids move on to create their own journeys.
I’ll never forget the chaos of a house full of life—giggles and shouts, doors slamming, and that endless cycle of laundry that somehow always seemed to revolve around those shoes. But as I sit here, with one child off at college and another soon to leave the nest, those sounds have become memories that I hold onto dearly.
And yet, the story doesn’t end there. The house comes alive again when they return, college break bringing back the bustle, the noise, the countless pairs of shoes of all sizes. It’s as if the years peel back, and once again, I’m the conductor of a wild symphony—full of laughter, stories, and the kind of fun that seeps into the walls and makes a home a living, breathing thing. I cook piles of food, now for a crew of young adults, and marvel at how it all disappears as quickly as it appeared.
It’s a different kind of noise now, one that speaks to the young men and women they’ve become. And when my teenage daughter continues to fill the house with her friends, and my son brings his college tales, it’s a reminder that while they’re out building their futures, this place, our home, is still their safe harbor. I hope they and their friends will always feel that way. That they will never ask to come home, never knock on the door (even their friends walk right in without knocking, I love that – even when it surprises me to have a 6’5″ “kid” boisterously entering the house when not expected! (You know who you are if you are reading this!)
It may get quieter when they’re both off to college, but I’m not sad (not sad-sad). I’m proud. Proud and excited to enjoy each moment, knowing that the pile of shoes will one day include those of their spouses—spouses I’m already praying for.
And one day, I know there will be tiny shoes added to the mix—the patter of grandkids that I can’t even imagine now. Life changes, and we change with it. It’s a ride—a wonderful, heartbreaking, exhilarating ride that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Because that’s what we do as parents, especially us Midwest moms—we ride the waves of life with our hearts wide open, ready to love and cherish every shoe in that pile.
Because every shoe tells a story. And together, those stories make up the tapestry of a family’s life—a tapestry that is ever-expanding, ever-beautiful, and ever-ours. Hold on, moms, it’s a ride more thrilling than any rollercoaster ride with your 8 year old!