A week ago, we attended the White House Egg Roll. We’d never been before and it was deeply memorable: perfect azure-sky weather, a lot for the children to see and do, time in the historic center of our nation, and the shock of realizing that going on these little adventures as a family has gotten easier. This last insight tossed me off center, as I routinely mourn my now-gone baby days. The other day, I saw a beautiful video on Instagram in which a baby was smiling and cooing at his father and found tears streaming down my cheeks. I remember those early connections, the way they left me hopeful and intact. The way I felt needed, deserving. I write so much about the agony of watching your babies grow and the pique of wondering: “Did I adequately treasure every first and last?” I find myself sniffling over the outgrown jon jons and placing my hand over my heart when early videos return my daughter’s squeaky, lispy baby voice to me.
And yet. Last Monday greeted me with fresh insight: “Every phase is a good phase.” Yes, the baby years are laden with sweetness and innocence, but this one we’re living out today is just as beautiful, and, dare I say it, less demanding? My children were remarkably patient and enduring in the face of long walks and wait times; we suffered no strollers, meltdowns, or disasters. It occurred to me that life has gotten much simpler in this regard: they have more stamina, more forbearance. I saw us as a unit, building core memories together in ways that felt less frenetic and tinged-by-possible-toddler-inflicted-calamity than ever before. There was no racing home for a nap time, or desperately trying to head off a meltdown with just-in-time snacks, or prying my child’s arms from the Easter Bunny. The day stretched out amicably in front of us, and we laughed at jokes and sang the songs from Trolls (my children’s current favorite soundtrack) and talked about who lives in the White House, and what happens at the Capitol, and my son asked me if God made the Washington Monument, and I didn’t know what to say and so we talked around the subject until he was satisfied.
Still, on the Metro ride from Bethesda downtown, I could not stop staring at the way my son’s still-tiny legs jutted out straight over the edge of the seat, his feet flopping pigeon-toed over every bump and screech in the track. He clasped his hands together in focus, and his saucer-like eyes absorbed everything on the train and outside of it. It was the sweetest reminder, this treasured mama’s view (and his complete lack of self-awareness in it), that he is still so little. Young enough to still want to hold my hand, flop into my lap, clutch at my skirts while waiting in line, and yet sturdy enough to withstand a substantive and stimulating half-day excursion, walking almost the entire 4 miles we clocked himself. (One of the most useful things I learned from my daughter’s first Montessori: children can walk their ages in miles. If they complain about tired legs…well, they have more juice than you think.)
Mr. Magpie and I were on cloud nine on the Metro ride home, ambitiously planning family Nats trips and tickets to the new Lion King performance at The Kennedy Center, and I looked over at my family and felt nearly overrun by happiness. I thought to myself: I am happy for what I have while I have it. I can miss my babies, but I must also embrace them as they are now, before I misplace those tiny loafered feet, and the way his hands still play idly at my hem, and his teardrop eyes as he says: “Mama, you know what? I love you. I love you-hoo-hoo.” He uses this formula all the time: the question to get my attention; the affirmation of love; and then the silly hooting sounds at the end, and —
Oh, friends —
Every phase is a good phase.
If you are weaning, or selling the bassinet, or sending your little one off to school, or retiring the car seats, or helping your son pack for college —
Lean into this: Every phase is a good phase, because your baby is at the center of it.
+Excuse me as I fix my mascara, but motherhood is a surfeit.
+Focus and the fibers of motherhood. This one always makes me feel a little bit better.
+She was how she kept time — how my grandmother’s world revolved around her daughter.
+I am wearing my trusty Maxwell and Geraldine Kate dress, which is sort of my “go-to travel/adventure dress” because it’s very comfortable, has a nice midi length (not maxi – so easier to walk in/go up steps in), and looks great on its own or beneath a cardigan for varying temps. It also washes nicely in the laundry. I am wearing my trusty Loeffler Randall leonies because they are SO comfortable. I walked four miles in them that day and didn’t once think about my feet. THE MOST COMFORTABLE FLAT I’ve ever worn. Wondering if I need them in another color…maybe will wait until fall and buy something seasonal for then.
+Micro is wearing these Oso and Me pants, which never fail to garner compliments. Oso and Me pieces are specifically designed to “grow with the child” so he will easily get a full two summers of wear out of them! He’s been loving these adorable little Janie and Jack drivers, and this oatmeal-colored rollneck sweater has actually surprised me with a lot of mileage so far this season.
+I meant to mention in my beauty post on Friday that I’m ordering this inexpensive facial sunscreen I keep hearing people rave about. $16? Yes please. Love an unfussy, inexpensive staple. That said, this Supergoop sunscreen remains my absolute favorite for pool days. It applies so easily and really stays put.
+Gorgeous sunshine yellow cocktail dress. I’m imagining with big earrings like these.
+A great inexpensive bag for toting beach toys / gear.
+A bunch of really great DVF styles just landed at The Outnet — how chic is this pink print mini, this bird-print mini, and this broderie anglaise style? I feel like DVF is really stretching out its fashion wings, as none of them look super “DVF” to me, not that I don’t also love her classic styles. But the patterns are more Erdem and the shapes more Cara Cara? Just feel FRESH!
+These patterned botanical shorts are pretty fab.
+LOVE this happy little vase. Only $32!
+Another Saloni slam dunk. I truly love this brand. I have a bunch of their dresses I’ve purchased over the years — I would guess that Saloni and Ulla Johnson are the most-represented dress labels in my closet. They offer such gorgeous, tailored silhouettes.
+I bought my children these rubber velcro-backed sandals for outdoor water play. The last two summers, they’ve worn these, which you kind of can’t beat for the price. They’re lightweight, velcro in the back, entirely waterproof, come in great colors, never seem to give my children blisters — and they’re $10. Both great options. However (!) My daughter has been begging me (?) for flip-flops! How does she know what they are? These bow ones are kind of sweet (also find some on sale at Zulily here) and they remind me of my Valentino ones. I actually hung onto those and still pull them out from time to time. Or maybe it is time to introduce her to the world of Jack Rogers…
+These wavy glass straws are in my cart for summer beverages.
+Cheerful, inexpensive beach towels.
+This sofa is super-similar to the one our interior designer sourced for us and had custom upholstered. I love the slightly modern shape given that we are pretty traditional in the furnishings of our home.
+I love this Liberty-floral-esque sweatshirt. (Imagine paired with a little white tennis skirt.) You can twin with your mini in it!
+A chic cache of SLVRLAKE jeans on sale here.
+Gorgeous scalloped mirror.
+We have and love these pasta storage bins. I know it sounds extraneous, but we do buy dried pasta in bulk from Gustiamo up in NYC, and so it’s great to decant the enormous bags into smaller, airtight bins. We’re big pasta people. We probably eat it once a week! (This pasta dish would be my preferred final meal on earth.)
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14 thoughts on “Every Phase Is a Good Phase.”
How wonderful to have that experience as a family! “Every phase is a good phase.” I so appreciate this sentiment, Jen — keeping it in my pocket for the harder days.
It brought to my mind this recent outing with my 5 y.o. daughter one random weeknight. First of all, it was evening (!!). It was just a simple errand — she really wanted spring rolls from this nearby Burmese restaurant. My husband was out of town, so I told her we’d drive there and order it as takeout. And then as we were waiting to be assisted, she tells me all of a sudden, “Mama, I’m really hungry, can we just eat it here?” I thought about it for a beat, then spotted a table for two, asked if it was available, and right then and there we had an impromptu dinner out. I thought to myself, wait a minute, who are we??? All I had was my tiny sling bag (no big tote with a change of clothes, snacks, little portable activities, etc). I still set expectations for her — stay seated, indoor voice, wait patiently for food to arrive, etc. She did amazingly well. I felt this sense of ease that was almost foreign for someone who tends to overplan/over-anticipate to a fault, particularly as a parent of a kid with sensory processing difficulties. She even tried some new flavors, so it felt like a win all around. We stuck out like sore thumbs among all the Silicon Valley professionals (tech bros, haha) dining around us, but we had fun!
Re: Saloni — thank you for introducing me to this label! I snagged this yellow floral maxi dress that was just too good to pass up as it was marked down to a little over $100, and wowza! I’m 5-foot-nothing and yet it was somehow… lengthening? There must be some wizardry that goes on in their cutting and designing for that to happen!
PS: Those Loft botanical print shorts don’t have great reviews on sizing, but PSA that it comes in a midi dress version, and I’m so tempted by the Agua Bendita vibes!
Ooo thanks for the tip! Missed that one!
Wow! What an incredible win. I’d be on a total high from that impromptu and successful date. More of that, please! Landon was just saying a week or two ago that he wants to “say yes more” to the kids. Yes, we can eat outside. Yes, you can scoot out front. Yes, we can go get ice cream after dinner. Yes, we can play cards. I love the mentality of just leaning into things and seeing what happens.
Totally agree on your observations about Saloni. Any time I wear their pieces I instantly feel six inches taller. Ha!
This one got me good!
I’m so touched this resonated. It was really a big unlock for me, too.
Catching up on a bunch of posts and oooof this hit me. We have an eight month old (!) at home and I love envisioning the exact types of outings and days you described – it makes me so excited for the future. Though I’m treasuring the delicious baby stage + all of it’s amazing daily developmental leaps and bounds, I find myself lusting for the horizons where she’s a little person, with thoughts and quirks and, especially, words of her own.
Tangentially: when you zhushed the site, the url/something on the back end changed and is now flagged by my work computer as a security risk, leaving me to catch up on posts on weekends/random evenings at home on my Mac. Previously, I’d carve out 20 mins or so to peruse blogs over my morning coffee as a mental reset during the workday. Just an FYI, not sure if that happened for anyone else!
Oh I so relate to all this — I remember specifically being excited to have my daughter try foods, and puffs, and all the things when she was still only on breastmilk/formula. I look back and wonder, “Why? It was such a short period — why was I already skipping to the next chapter?” At the same time, it was just excitement — I was looking forward to getting to know my daughter better, in more obvious ways. Only now do I look back and realize I *was* getting to know her — her sounds, her cries, what made her laugh, her “tells” for tiredness and hunger.
It took me a long time to be able to settle into the mindset I’m describing here. You’ll get there too!!
Also, I am so so sorry about the technical issue! I am going to forward along to my team.
So, so true – the learning and getting to know her is happening constantly, even in this pre-verbal, early signaling phase. I’m having that both/and feeling where I can’t wait for her to be a little person AND I’m soaking up this not-quite-newborn baby stage.
No worries at ALL, seriously. Just wanted to mention it on the off chance anyone else was experiencing and/or it was easily explained away!
I love the both/and phrasing of these thoughts! So true to motherhood…
This is encouraging to hear! I think we are on the cusp of this phase…we can do outings, no stroller, no naps, no diapers. But we still have to be on HIGH ALERT for potty emergencies. So maybe by the end of summer we will feel more fancy free??We did go to a college baseball game recently which was a fun way to spend an afternoon. But I do miss the baby days! Elementary kids are just so…loud. And silly. And wild! I feel like I am simultaneously needed less (they can feed/dress themselves, etc) and more (constant refereeing, trying to stay on top of the school relationships and performance, more activities, etc).
Also, re: flip flops. I just bought my two girls some at Target for swim lessons and my 5yo refuses to wear them bc they “make me walk too slow.” (Eye roll). And the 3yo does whatever big sister does. I think it also feels weird between their toes. Oh well, at least it was only about $20 wasted if they still won’t wear them!
Hi! Such an interesting note on the “trade-offs” of the elementary school age in terms of how much you’re needed (or needed differently)!
Yes, I think you are SO close to a more fancy-free stage. Hill is now at the age where we just need to prompt him to use the toilet before we head off and then we’re usually golden / he’ll let us know if he needs to use it / it’s been such a gamechanger not to have to worry about that and pack back-ups and remind him!
This gives me hope! I know (knock on wood) that easier parenting days are ahead because I get glimpses of it already with my eight-year-old and five-year-old. But then we had our youngest, now a one-year-old, and reset the clock. I feel like I hit the lottery when we had our darling youngest child, and it can be tough to realize that the easier days are currently years off for us. Trying to remember that both of those can be true at the same time!
Oh yes! I am sure that’s tricky for you. Maybe the two older can begin to help with the younger one and offset a little bit? Ah! It really is hard when they are tiny and need so much! Hang in there…!