By Lisa Tucker McElroy
Now, if you were to ask my teenaged daughter, she’d tell you that they aren’t my bunny slippers at all. They’re hers, poached from under the Christmas tree one year we can’t quite remember, a year in which “her” ornament (yes, we do that thing where each member of the family gets an ornament to represent that year’s passion) was a NASA astronaut in full moon landing gear. They’re hers, except that she never wears slippers. I mean, maybe she would, but she never has hard days that must end in slipper heaven. OK, she has hard days. But bunny slippers just don’t do it for her. Not that I’ve ever given her a chance to find out.
Because the bunny slippers—they’re mine. And as a lawyer, I know that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
I’m a cliché, I think, because I’m that forty-something working mother of two who presses snooze instead of hitting the gym, eats lunch in front of her computer, and constantly rummages through the laundry room to find clean socks. Sometimes, the socks are even my own. Sometimes, small tween socks or giant husband socks will work.
But nothing does the job like bunny slippers. After three or four years, one bunny has no tail. The other bunny has a hole where his nose once sniffed. Neither bunny is particularly white where the white parts should be or pink where the pink parts should be.
Yes, both bunnies are perfectly molded to my feet, padded in just the right spots when I scrunch up my toes.
They sit patiently on the coffee table, propped up while I type on the computer on the couch. They walk out to the driveway to find the permission slip that got left on the floor of the backseat or the dog’s leash that got dumped in front of the garage. They narrowly avoid the spitting spaghetti sauce that drops from the stove burner all the way to the floor.
They nuzzle. They cuddle. They hug.
Now, naturally, my bunny slippers (not my daughter’s, mine) come with a large helping of grief. Think I’m exaggerating? Well, you try opening the door to the UPS delivery man wearing a business suit and bunny slippers. You dress up in jeans and bunny slippers to welcome in the mortgage broker who’s there to work on your refi. You drive the kids to French horn practice in yoga pants, a day-old sweatshirt, and . . . bunny slippers.
You try being a mom to two teenagers who are embarrassed when you let your hair go au natural, for goodness sake. Then tell me how much you hear about humiliation, and boys who will never look at them, and moms who should get a life.
And moms who should just put on some shoes, IMHO (in my humble opinion). That’s teen speak for “as the whole world except my totally embarrassing mom knows.” And lose the bunny slippers.
So why the aggravation? Why make the traumatic memories for my teens? Why take the daily ridicule?
Because the bunny slippers have oddly (OK, I know how weird this is going to sound) become a part of our daily life, our family, even.
Because if the kids get all worked up about my bunny slippers, the bunny slippers become the source of teenage angst, and the AP World History test sort of loses its power.
Because if my husband needs a reminder that I need some TLC, all I have to do is lift up one bunny-shod foot and look at him meaningfully. (Yes, bunny slippers can be sexy. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.)
Because when students and editors and deans and husbands and teens and dachshunds and goldfish have each wanted something from me today—something different, mind you, something that has sent me in seven different directions—the bunny slippers ask for nothing. Nothing except that B1 belongs on the left foot, and B2 fits on the right.
Nothing except that I attach myself to them firmly and acknowledge the better-than-fabulous way they make me feel.
Speaking of feelings, and speaking of fabulous . . .
Yesterday, while I worked on the couch and propped my bunny feet on the coffee table, right next to my third or fourth cup of the day, my husband and daughters hit the post-holiday sales at the mall. I looked around the quiet house, tucked my toes in tight, and sighed with a mother’s delight.
Yep, just me and my bunny slippers. The way it should be.
The door opened. The teens came in shrieking. The husband followed, hollering that I just wouldn’t believe their shopping success.
An Abercrombie shirt on clearance? I asked. A sale at the Pandora store? Two for one day at Auntie Anne’s?
Nope. Whatever it was was wrapped in tissue paper.
“Be careful!” the younger one shouted. “Don’t let it fall!” the older one warned.
More giggles. “Come on, Mom, unwrap it!”
I was pretty sure this was some kind of bad joke. And I was going to be the laughingstock.
Sometimes, it’s just beyond awesome to be wrong.
Peeking out of the tissue was a pink spot.
I looked at the girls and started to smile. “Is it . . .”
“Yes!” they shouted. The big one fell over the little one to pull the tissue off.
There. In my hand. Made of glass. White, with pink whiskers and, yes, two tiny pink noses.
This year, my ornament was my very own pair of bunny slippers.
Lisa Tucker McElroy is a freelance writer and law professor. She writes for outlets like Redbook, AARP, Huffington Post, Slate, and the New York Times’ Motherlode. She is the mother of two teen girls.
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