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Teen Called Out By Her Unemployed Mom For Wearing Shoes With Holes In Them In Front Of Guests

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We’ve all had that piece of clothing, like a t-shirt or pair of shoes, that we kept for a little too long because we loved them. By the time we let them go, they were thoroughly worn out, discolored, or even had holes in them.

Unfortunately for some families, keeping these clothes is a financial necessity.

Some people are more embarrassed by keeping these items than others, as pointed out in the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor WigglyToes194w realized that she felt differently about the financial situation her family was in than her mother did.

But after seeing her mother’s reaction during a visit with a friend, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she should have behaved differently.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for wiggling my toe through a hole in my shoe?” 

The OP wasn’t bothered by her shoes. 

“I’m 16 [female], I have one pair of shoes that are nearly 3 years old and have a hole just over my left big toe.”

“I’m not too bothered about it, I just put duct tape on it if it’s raining when I go out.”

“My mom is unemployed due to disability at the moment, so money is extremely tight and she doesn’t get children’s allowance for me anymore since I’m no longer in full-time education, so new shoes aren’t on the table.”

A family friend felt differently about them, though. 

“My mom had a friend over yesterday for some tea when the friend asked if I was wearing socks, because she could see my big toe through the hole.”

“Turns out there was a hole in my sock that aligned perfectly with the one in my shoe.”

“So I said, ‘Oh, haha, better go put on new socks,’ and wiggled my toe so that it was fully outside the hole.”

‘The friend said something along the lines of, ‘You should sweet talk your mother into getting some new shoes for your birthday.'”

“My birthday is coming up soon but I’m not going to be able to get anything, which doesn’t really bother me.”

This left the OP’s mother feeling embarrassed. 

“After the friend left, my mom pulled me into the kitchen and said I shouldn’t have embarrassed her like that, that wiggling my toe was something extremely childish and a**holish to do and now her friend knows that she’s struggling.”

“I said it wasn’t meant to be embarrassing at all, and that she needs to calm down because it was just a toe.”

“She said next time she has someone over, I’m not to wear the shoes and to just go around in my socks until they leave.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some cited NAH and said they understood where both the OP and her mom were coming from. 

“NAH It just sounds like your mum is embarrassed, I don’t think she meant to call you out like that.”

“Not having a lot of money and struggling like that can be extremely demoralizing. She sounds like the kind of person who rarely asks for help due to her own pride.”

“Might be best to just apologize to her and tell her you never meant to embarrass her, that the lack of money you two have doesn’t make you think any less of her as a mother and that she can ask people for help if she needs it.”

“You don’t sound childish, you sound very grown-up for your age.”

“Wishing you and your lovely mum all the best, I hope your situation improves.”ReliefFromLife

“NTA”

“Your family friend already saw your toe through your shoes. Wiggling them or not after the fact would’ve made no difference.”

“You’re not in the wrong at all but do try to be a little sympathetic towards your mom as it sounds like she’s not having an easy time right now financially and she’s probably just feeling the pressure of it or mad at herself for not being in a better situation.”sleepindude

“NTA – you aren’t, however being cognizant towards how others might view things is a skill in life. You are young and this could be learning for you.”

“Sometimes misunderstandings like this happen and how we deal with it is all part of life.”

“Your Mom (who seems like a fine and proud Mom) might not want others to know of the financial situation, which is fine. Some folks (not all or most) view having worn or torn/tattered clothing as a bad thing.”

“So as you or I aren’t bothered by it, others could be. Yes, just a toe is only a toe, but not wanting to have the financial situation out there could be a thing.”

“This doesn’t mean hide who you are or are becoming, be you, but also try to see the works from others’ viewpoints. My 2 cents.”Saint_Kieran

Others were a little troubled by the mother’s reaction. 

“I think you read the situation perfectly, but I’m going to say the mom is a bit on the AH side here. I imagine that it kills her that she can’t provide adequately, but she can at least not dump her misplaced frustration on OP.”

“I am intimately familiar with Sam Vimes’ Theory of Economic Injustice and the reason I appreciate it so much is that if you can at least get a laugh about it, it goes a long way in preserving your sanity.”Norceuil_182

“I would only say that the Mom is the AH if she called her daughter an AH over this. It seems kind of ridiculous to expect a 16-year-old to understand her financial embarrassment on such a nuanced level, especially when her action was so harmless.”apersonwhoisherenow

“NAH, but I do think your mom needs to consider seeking out assistance.”

“Your shoes and clothing are inadequate and there comes a point where she needs to accept that she needs help, either from a food bank or local charity. I’m sorry this is happening to both of you.”spilly_talent

A few said if there was an AH here, it was the friend. 

“NTA – I actually think your response was cute and funny, I think your mom was embarrassed especially with money being tight.”

“If anyone is the AH, it’s the friend, but only a bit. She shouldn’t have said anything tbh. Hope things get better for you.”Solleil

“NAH. You were just trying to be funny and the friend overstepped a little.”

“Your mom is understandably embarrassed be you would not have been able to predict that situation. I hope things get better for you guys soon.”stouffers3

The OP and her mother couldn’t quite see eye-to-eye on this one, but the subReddit was quick to defend both of them.

What the OP did was technically harmless and maybe even a little bit funny, but the mother was understandably stressed by her financial situation and not wanting others to know about it.

The sub agreed, the next best step for this family is to discuss what makes both of them comfortable and happy, and for them to respect each other’s comfort zones.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.