Sitting with my feet curled up underneath me and a quilt of kiwiana fabric pulled over my lap, I absent-mindedly scrolled through social media. My thumb paused as a video caught my eye. Mellissa and Anthony, fellow clubfoot parents and founders of Sole Purpose Project, had laid down a challenge.
When children begin treatment for clubfoot they are expected to wear correctional bracing (#bootsandbars) for 23 hours a day. Sole Purpose Project was asking us to show our support for children born with clubfoot and help to raise awareness for the birth defect, by donning a pair of our own boots for 23 hours the following day, World Clubfoot Day.
I began a mental check-list of what I had planned: gardening, grocery shopping, a play date with a Mum I had never met. That all seemed manageable in boots. After all, I could dust the boots off or even wear plastic bags over top of them inside, if need be.
I decided on my trusty, tattered Ugg boots. They have literally travelled the world with me, but I had never worn them for 23 hours straight. Although stained and with sheep’s wool peeping out through two large rips across my toes, they’d at least be comfortable day and night. At least that’s what I thought.
As ‘World Clubfoot Day’ dawned I pulled my boots on, cementing my commitment to the challenge by sending a pic to Mellissa and Anthony with an accompanying “I’m in!”. Overall the day unfolded with ease. Sure, I felt conscious at times, and it took a little longer to go from outside in. But my boots encouraged conversation I would not have otherwise had, and left random members of the public more aware of children managing clubfoot treatment.
That evening was not so easy. Normally a sound sleeper (when our children allow it), I instead tossed and turned all night. I like to sleep with at least one foot out of the covers, despite knowing that’s how the boogie man drags you down the hallway, but even that would not regulate my body temperature. Twisted around the blankets, my Ugg boots became heavier and more cumbersome than they had seemed during daylight hours.
A tidal wave of thoughts and emotions about our son and other children’s clubfoot experience came hurtling towards me as I willed myself to relax. Deep breath in, slow breath out. If our son wore his boots’n’bar for 23 out of 24 hours over 91 consecutive nights (before he dropped down to part time wear for another 4 years), the least I could do was last ONE complete night.
Spreading my toes, I realised that I could flex my feet up and down as well as move my feet independent of each other. Children wearing clubfoot bracing cannot do these things. I had also been able to choose when and which boots I wore, and it was June – winter in Australia, not a sweltering, sticky summers night.
All I wanted to do was kick my boots off, knowing full well I would fall into the deep sleep I usually enjoy. But the thought of the many children around the world who persevere through treatment helped keep my boots on. Being able to see a pair of boots’n’bar and imagine how it might be to wear them is one thing. To get a step closer ~ yet still be so far away from experiencing what it’s actually like ~ was something else altogether.
My dad, Zach’s pop, joined me in the challenge, and I think we came to the same conclusions about what we learnt through donning boots for 23 hours straight.
Things worth doing are not always convenient or easy – in fact they’re often difficult, untimely and sometimes even painful. But committing to something worthwhile and seeing it through despite it being tricky, will almost always bring you closer to the people or things that matter most to you.
That troughs and peaks make up the journey. We have easier and harder moments in every 24 hours, every week, every year, and they are all the part of walking towards our hopes and dreams. The challenges make the success that much sweeter.
Most of all, I learnt that our children deserve our cheerleading and our willingness to come along with them, even if only for one day and one night.
To Mellissa and Anthony – a huge thank you for giving me and many others the opportunity to gain a new appreciation and an improved perspective on our brave clubfoot children’s experience. I sincerely hope that your campaign becomes an annual event, and that the awareness and money you raise gives countless children not only the opportunity to wear boots’n’bar, but also to run and jump with strong, straight corrected feet.
To be part of this wonderful campaign and support the inspiring work Mellissa and Anthony do, visit their fundraising page.
Love Lans x