Minding the Gap. And New Shoes



I have bought new shoes.


They are outrageously, irresponsibly, ridiculously high. Six inches, at least.


I never wear heels. I have no need now: barefoot and shorts-clad in the Outpost, the only thing between my soles and the floor, a slippery talc of dust.  Where on earth will you wear them, my Head demands in irritation, what a waste it tuts, crossly.


But I have bought heels. Higher than any I have ever worn.


My Heart wasn’t listening.


I laughed as I tried them on, teetering around a store. Some observers smiled, some looked on po-faced: I am too old to be lurching, giggling giddy across a shop floor to the amusement of my eleven year old daughter.


Go on Mum! Get  them, urged Hat.


I warned my big kids, ‘When I go to England, I’m buying heels’, I said.


I am shorter than my two eldest children now. And smaller and lighter than my son who is seventeen today. Once I could pick him up. Now he does me, clean off my feet, hugging me in an embrace so tight he winds me with his man-child strength. And with the joy, the sheer beautiful take-your-breath-away unexpectedness, that at 17 he still, sometimes, wants to hug his mother.


And Amelia, willowy slender, clasps me so that my head fits snug into the curve described by her shoulder and neck. My face beneath her chin. My skin, lined and pummelled by the march of time, the tread of three children who have added more to laughter lines than to the frown that folds between my brows (that’ll be squinting too often into an African sun because I cannot locate my dark glasses) looks parchment-old against the smooth alabaster of her fourteen year old one.


They chuckle, my two big kids, ‘Come, little mama’, they tease and manhandle me to remind me that they can. Now.


Once it was I who lifted them, swung them upwards and in dizzying circles, round and round, higher and higher, and shrieked weeeeeeeeeee to rapturous applause of their delighted laughter: encore mama, encore. And so again, weeeeeeeeeee. Because I could. Then.


And when I read to them, at bedtime, their sweetly intoxicating Baby Shampoo scented heads close enough to plant random kisses upon, near enough so that I might inhale deeply and any still busily worrisome whirling dervish thoughts be stilled by that unrivalled high. When they drooped, sleepy, curled against my body, beneath my arm, beside my hip, soft child-flesh filling angular shapes. A perfect, perfect fit. The last piece of a jigsaw puzzle; the one you’d been looking for.


I didn’t just buy heels so that I could smile at their expressions when they noticed my new found elevation.


I bought heels so that I could buy some time. Fill a space again. So that – briefly – I might feel the shape of their heads against my shoulder. 


Mind the gap, Mum, Hat will warn as I board the train, tottering perilously on my precipitous new heels.


Sometimes you don’t notice it until it’s too late, see.




There’s a new page on my blog, a link to the right of this, Mind the Mummy Gap. If you can bear to, please click  on it.


Thank you. x


20 Responses to “Minding the Gap. And New Shoes”

  1. Mozi Esme's Mommy Says:

    This is really beautiful. At my 5’1″, I’m placing my bets that my baby will outgrow me, too – and that is a scary thought!

    Enjoy those heels! I love heels too, even when they cause blisters, just because.

  2. Mind the gap « Parlez-vous moo? Says:

    […] have slipped into that gap before. Not so deeply nor so suddenly that I could not clutch the edge on my way down and haul […]

  3. R. Sherman Says:

    My 17 year old’s heels make her taller than me.



  4. Mud Says:

    Heels are more than just shoes, they ahve a huge effect on the wearer. You sometimes need to take a moment to remmeber that you are a woman as well as a person, mother, friend, daughter etc – and high heels can help with that! Enjoy the tottering!

  5. Tash Says:

    You continue to take my breath away, girl. I thought it would be a Sex and the City kind of tale… Instead, it’s my friend, writing about new shoes in such an enriching way, with such intelligence, and cleverness and tenderness. Clicked to your link too… Way to go. Make sure you’ve got some sort of a claim on that title too.

  6. Mapesbury Mum Says:

    Heels – you’ll have to advise me on what to wear. I have just spent a summer in crocs (which came into their own paddling in rivers and romping in fields). We had some friends to stay and went to an evening soiree in the local village – she had some heels on and after watching everyone’s expressions I told myself its about time I bought something ladylike! Enjoy them and I shall think of you….

  7. Kitschen Pink Says:

    My boy is only six and I am already concerned that by the time he is 10 I shall need to master the finer arts of walking on stilts. I asked a friend about her tall son. She said “Yes, it was funny. One day I just turned around to speak to him and realised I was looking up”. Does anyone know a good circus school? t.x

  8. Irene Says:

    My daughter, who is an inch shorter than I am, much to her chagrin, buys high heeled shoes, so she’ll be taller and I always buy flat heeled shoes, so I’ll look my size. Besides, I totter a lot when on high heeled shoes. I have no coordination.

  9. Hadriana Says:

    I’m so pleased to hear that your 17 year old…still wants to hug you…I worry that those lovely hugs might disappear at a certain age…

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you all. For reading. and for linking and for replying. I am overwhelmed at the genorosity of other people’s words and clicks; thank you x

    She probably will Mozi, she probably will; enjoy the lofty feeling of mother hen with sufficiently broad wings that will envelop her until then.

    Thank you Nutty – as always, thank you x

    And if my eldest daughter continues as she is, Mr Sherman, she will do the same to her father, who will not be remotely amused!

    You, Mud, are absolutely right. Heels are good for the soul. If appallingly bad at times for the sole x

    Tash, you are too generous. But thank you. Sex and the City – at the least the celluloid variety – remains an unknown quantity. The reality was a long, long twenty years ago! x

    But you are a lady Mapesbury, you are. I have discovered the delicious joy of mincing. Join me. In wedges. Stilettos and I’d break my nose. x

    Kitschen Pink – so know that feeling. That looking back and suddenly needing to look up. I reserve a small space between my son and I now when we converse, so that I don’t get a crick in my neck.

    I do too, Irene, totter. So I have been practising. In my pajamas. Tottering between bed and the bathroom. In an effort to one day sashay.

    They won’t, Hadriana: take it from me – they won’t.

  11. Expat Mum Says:

    My two oldest are now bigger than me – 15 y.o. daughter and 12 y.o. son. Even tho’ I’m 5’7″ I feel a little dwarfed. Petite even. Still, I also have my five y.o who fits into the mummy space on my lap.
    Great post RM.

  12. The Good Woman Says:

    Oh Mem, it seems to me that you bought so much more than shoes. You bought memories and milestones… that elongate the legs and make ankles appear smaller. Money well spent I say!

  13. Mom/Mum Says:

    What a fabulous post. I loved this.
    am a weeny one so i predict my two boys will be looking down on my before their 10th birthday. I must go get me some new heels!

  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thanks Expat Mum. and I cannot complain for I still have little(r) Hat. Whom i put to bed with weights on her head so that she cannot grow too tall to curl into my shoulder!

    Thanks GW: and my legs need elongating, believe me. My eldest daughter asks me for boots. Heel obsessed I admire the tall ones. She writes crossly to explain she needs flats, ”I’m quite tall enough as it is thanks Mum!”

    Get them Mom/Mum, get them now so that you have time to practice. And thank you x

  15. Samantha Says:

    tears are streaming down my face… beautifully written, thank you for sharing xx

  16. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you Samantha. And for reading x

  17. Mind the Gap « Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] And I remembered that it is me who must Mind the Gap. […]

  18. mimi Says:

    beautifully written.
    I have tears in my eys reading this, cos it’s where I’m at right now, and you describe the hugging space so eloquently. I do not like this stage, that feeling that they’re almost gone, all three of them. It saddens me, though not them- they can’t wait to get on to the next stage, while I sentimentally hang onto the last (or previous!) one. How fleeting it all is!

  19. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    how fleeting indeed Mimi. thank you for dropping by. as i write i must leave the uk and all my children behind at college and school. i feel as if i’m going back to a swallowing void. i must be brave for – as you observe – they can’t wait to get onto the next stage. but children are like springs, they bounce back: bounce home. I still do and I’m a dinosaur as far as my kids are concerned!

  20. This Incongruous Life | Reluctant Memsahib Says:

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