The Ugg-ly debate: A Chicago mom weighs the pros and cons of buying pricey footwear

My children own adorable shoes. Cute flats, funky sneakers and knock-off store brand Ugg-mitations. These boots have been a point of contention with my teen and tween.

I thought Uggs would just be a fad, like the rainbow loom or hair feathers, that would come and go in a season. But, these smelly, sweaty, abnormally large footed boots have staying power.

My daughters begged for their Uggs . Each and every year. And I have always said a firm, no wiggle-room: “No.”

“But, Mommmm,” they’ve pleaded. “We are the only ones that don’t own Uggs. Like literally.”

At first I didn’t believe them. Kids say that line all the time. But, when I went to a school event and looked down at the floor literally every single girl (and most of their mothers), were walking around in these nearly $200 Uggs!

It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford these boots – if I wanted to squeeze pennies I could certainly make it happen. But, it was the principal of my children owning something so expensive and unnecessary that I could not give in. I saw no difference in the knock offs and they just accepted it.

Well last week, my 10-year-old had a very hard week in school. A few things happened socially that led her to be extremely sad and emotional. In a weak moment of mommy empathy, I found myself with a pair of Uggs, size 5, in hand at the checkout counter.

“$169.50 plus tax.” said the saleswoman.

I gulped. Panic set in and I began to sweat. I was having a last minute change of heart while I pretended to search for my credit card in my purse.

I swallowed my gut instincts, shoved the guilt back down and paid the lady. I grabbed my big brown paper craft box and headed quickly to my car, hoping not to bump into any friends on the way.

Immediately panic-stricken, I called my husband.

“Don’t kill me,” I started. I knew he wouldn’t actually kill me or even care too much (Hey, men’s dress shoes cost nearly that much anyway, I reasoned). He’s pretty clueless on the cost of children’s clothing. I explained what I purchased and why. As expected, he just said, “Um, okay.” He knew better than to mess with a mother in a tizzy.

When my daughter arrived home, I wiped the tears from her really emotional day away and I pulled out the guilt-purchased Uggs.

Never before had a purchase attached itself to me like this one. I felt that I was going against every fiber of my being giving her these fuzzy little shearling boots.

She opened the bag. Her mouth immediately dropped open. Her eyes widened.

“What?! I thought you said I could NEVER get these? What? Huh?”

She was clearly shocked and in awe of her new Uggs. She darted between utter shock and utter joy. She then ripped the box open and placed them on her feet. A tremendous smile replaced her tear-stricken cheeks.

“Oh Mommy, these are like walking on marshmallows! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!” she said as she did her happy dance.

My guilt still there, I felt the need to explain how Mommy had a momentary lapse of good judgment. I lifted my eyes to meet my daughters and explain. But, one look at her, in her bow-backed Bailey Uggs, and I knew it was okay to bend my own rules.

I am not a believer in ‘just because everyone else has it’ but, I am a believer in sometimes, under certain circumstances, it’s okay to let your daughter feel a little special, feel like she fits in and feel like Mommy understands.

I grapple with sending the message that clothing doesn’t have to make you feel better or special, but as a woman we all know how that moment feels when a great pair of jeans fit or that perfect shoe find makes an outfit. Wearing something special just does help a really bad day. It just does.

So, as I kissed my daughters cheek and walked downstairs finally content with my purchase, I greeted one very jealous, angry teen waiting for me in the kitchen. Guess I know what she’ll be getting for Hannukah this year . . .

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