Full Stops + Call Backs.

By: Jen Shoop

Last weekend, my four-year-old son was glued to my side. At my daughter’s swim meet, he held my hand, asked me to carry him, buried his face into my legs. He erupted into tears when his father put him in his carseat on the way to lunch afterward — “I wanted mama to do it!”. At the restaurant, he sat on my lap. During “quiet time,” the stretch of weekend afternoon during which my children are directed into their bedrooms to read, build Legos, play with LOL Surprise Dolls, he begged: “I just want to stay with you.” And so —

I let him. We laid in my bed, in the cool sheets and gray overcast light. He pressed my hand onto his face. Neither of us slept, though I kept pantomiming shuteye in the hopes of conversion. Instead, his body thrashed around in the comforter and his blond head emerged from the linen cloud every few minutes: “Mama, are you sleeping?”

“No, but it’s good to let your body rest,” I told him, several times, remembering my father’s mantra from my own youth: “Resting is the next best thing to sleeping.” My father had told me he’d needed this refrain when he was drafted into the Vietnam War and had found himself muscling through nighttimes whose conditions were inimical to sleep. This thought was on my mind as I held my own son, and I took comfort in the accordioning of this parental advice across three generations, even as I launched into my usual maternal sleuthwork: what was going on with my boy? He’d told me the week prior, after emerging from day camp, that “the days are too long,” and I was beginning to wonder if putting him in four different full-day camps over the course of one summer had been ill-advised. I’d been angling for exposure and variety, but perhaps it was too much for my boy: too many new places, new routines, new faces, new rules, new “first days.” At the same time, the ethos of my father’s advice — the advice I’d just passed along to my son — chastened me from my spiraling inquisitions. As a mother, I often find myself seeking reasons for my children’s behavior. Did they eat enough? Had I not been clear in my instruction? Was he borrowing from behaviors he’d seen at camp? Was she overtired? The truth is that while these investigations can be helpful and are invariably well-intentioned, sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a line, and by that I mean: my son had told me he needed me, and there wasn’t a need to sidetrack with subtext. “I want to stay with you,” he said, and his request arrived as a full-stop. Stigmḕ teleía. Open-shut case. There was no need to dig further.*

The tenor of my father’s repeated advice lingered there, atmospheric. It was just the kind of practical reassurance that I would do well to remember in this year dedicated to “flow.” If sleep won’t happen, accept rest. If the skies promise rain, move the event inside. If my son is telling me he needs me, forget the routine, to hell with the laundry: open up my arms and let him in.

A reminder to be leery, or at least alert to, the rules I live by: the eight hours of sleep, 3L of water, one good stretch of writing, one screen at a time, children in bed by seven-thirty, laundry on Saturday, bed made first thing in the morning. These are worthy guideposts pointed me in the direction of wellness, but let me remember that they are guideposts, not hitching ones.

Later that afternoon, I came across a poem by Morgan Harper Nichols whose opening lines read:

Let July be July.

Let August be August.

and let yourself

just be

even in the uncertainty.

A beautiful callback to my intentions for 2023.

Onward, Magpies, just being / even in the uncertainty. Let July be July!


*I feel it must be caveated that of course once something becomes a pattern, you must do the digging! But so often with children, a blip is a blip. Everything is a phase. Etc!

+Thinking of my Dad’s advice this past weekend was yet another reminder of the way our lives become mosaics of the people we love.

+Planting trees under his shade you do not expect to sit.

+Replantings — or, finding new ways to connect with people we’ve lost.

+Sign up for my weekly Friday digest email here — the highlights from the week’s posts, finds, and comments!

Shopping Break.

+These sandals arrived and you were right — I love them. I know there are a lot of fellow Ancient Greek devotees! They look perfect with, basically, everything. Shorts! Jeans! Minis! Maxis! The best. You can see me in them with my favorite new hot day summer dress from Madewell and super fun gold statement earrings over here.

+I don’t know how I missed this deal, but I just snagged this SuperGoop duo from the Nordstrom Sale — this is our favorite sunscreen for the entire family and we keep the pump bottle by the back door for easy application. It was a no-brainer because I know I will instantly-reorder when we’re out, and it’s like getting the smaller (bag size) tube for free! I also shared a micro round-up of a few sale deals still in stock that are incredible here. I own all of these except for the Birks (of which I own a different style) and they are just TIP TOP favorite items all around.

+Oo la la — these satin mary janes from J. Crew are verrrry Miu Miu.

+Extra 20% off + free shipping on S&L’s sale pillows. These gingham euro squares are amazing and bolsters are SO expensive, so this is a great time to buy one at an amazing price.

+My girlfriend wore this tank on one of our recent walks and I copy-catted immediately. Looked like the perfect weight and fit.

+This atlantic green sweater is on its way to me now…now that I’ve started thinking about fall, I can’t stop!

+Love these patterned (and heavily discounted) shorts.

+Just ordered these to keep in my bag when heading out with kids. We enjoyed an impromptu lunch out together on Saturday and I wish I’d had something on hand for them! Other activities that have been lifesavers in the past: these paint by sticker books, Mad Libs (huge hit with my six year old), Spot It, Table Topics, this marker set, and Usborne sticker books.

+I asked my Instagram Magpies for brow gel/pencil recs, and they delivered. Top vote-getters were Kosas, Charlotte Tilbury, Westman Atelier, and Anastasia. In my recent efforts to buy clean beauty as much as possible, I ordered the Kosas and Westman to try. Will report back! The Anastasia is interesting since there’s a clear option.

+While we’re talking beauty, Goop just launched a new peptide serum, and I am currently in the process of testing it! One of my girlfriends is a HUGE Goop Beauty fan and we’ve been messaging about this product in particular.

+Oh, me and my obsession with cosmetics bags/pouches. I can’t explain the obsession? I have them in all my bags. Anyway, Weezie just launched ones that are terry on the exterior and patterned liners on the interior with super cute personalization options, and Julia Amory just restocked her sets, too. (I use hers a lot because they’re lined on the inside and come in three sizes. Also a super cute gift.).

+I guess a lot of you share my strange attraction to cosmetics pouches, because this roundup was one of my most popular posts on LTK for awhile earlier this month!

+This $40 two-piece set is chic.

+These pick-stitch cotton quilts and shams are timeless and currently marked down.

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4 thoughts on “Full Stops + Call Backs.

  1. You’re a good mom. Sometimes (even at 24!), we just want to be with our parents.
    This reminds me of my own childhood, when I had a hard time waking up and starting my morning routine for school. My mother would lay out my uniform in our family room so that I could put it on right after breakfast and not have to go back upstairs alone. How thoughtful that was!

    1. Such a loving and thoughtful gesture!! So sweet that you remember it so clearly, too, and knew even then how thoughtful your mom was being!!

      Thanks also for the encouragement!!


  2. Aww! Sounds like a lot of new experiences at a lot of camps at that age? Maybe he just needs some one on one time with his mama. School is just around the corner so enjoy the time you’ll never get back. I’m 68 and wish I had done so instead of putting them in so many summer camps and activities. I wish I had spent more time watching them run thru the sprinkler and laughing out loud. Egrets, I’ve had a few! As the joke says, before someone tells me it’s actually regrets!

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