Musings + Essays

I Am Change.

By: Jen Shoop

A Magpie recently introduced me to the lovely blogger and mother-to-be Ashley Kane and I have so enjoyed getting lost on her site over the past week. In one of her recent posts, she reflects on a quote from a parenting book called Momma Zen, in which the author writes:

“But just for the record, there are many things you can do besides finish the dishes. Here are two: first, take a breath; second, tell yourself, I can change.

You can change in an instant. You can change your mind. You can change your timing. You can change your approach. You can change your words. You can laugh instead of scream. You can hop on one foot. You can step away from the fray instead of stepping in. You can give up, give in, and go in a completely different direction than you’d like to. You can do the dishes later.

You are change. You have infinite power to relax, to release, to change, and thus to change everything.”

I had to take a minute to gather myself. You are change. I immediately culled about thirty-seven distinct memories in which I found myself constrained or compelled to do something because it was expected of me. One the one hand, in a macro sense, that is adulthood, in a nutshell. And certainly parenthood. Meeting deadlines, making and showing up for appointments, submitting papers, taking temperatures, ordering groceries my children will likely not eat, remaining calm and measured in the face of mounting frustration and noise, suppressing the untoward question, avoiding certain words and expressions in conversations within earshot of our children, negotiating or not negotiating for myself and my business (as the circumstances dictate), making sure the laundry is folded and the dishes are put away, going high when I sometimes feel like going low. These are the table stakes of straining to live a mature, organized, respectable life, especially with little ears around. And I responded — in a profound, specific way — to the particulars of the scene the author conjures above, where a mother is determined to finish a household chore because it must get done while her daughter tantrums on the floor. Whew. Been there, done that. How often do I tell my four-year-old: “Give me a minute –” or “not yet, I need to finish doing x“? I am putting away the dishes and she’s shimmying with excitement over the prospect of sharing her discovery that there is only one calendar square left before her birthday. “Mama, come see — come see!” she chants. “Now? Now? Now?” And how on earth to reconcile these demands of me? Because things must get done, and I feel my children must learn that they are a part of a household — both in the sense that they are not the center of the universe and that I want the labor that goes into making our world run smoothly to be visible. And yet, and yet! These years are short and I could do worse than let in a little slack during the morning rush to chase my daughter and her imagination, leaving the dishes for later.

As usual, I land somewhere in the middle. The chores must get done, and my children must respect that, but it’s OK to let them slide every now and then, too.

More generally, though, and more to the author’s point: what a powerful call to permit ourselves to reimagine ourselves as mothers. Maybe we have pigeon-holed ourselves as “not the Pinterest mom type” or “not the type to co-sleep” or “not the type to let my kids out of the house in pajamas with bedhead” or “not the type to pray at bedtime” or whatever it is. Or maybe we have felt awkward or shy about some of the learned language friends have used with their children — “you are not bad, you just made a bad choice,” etc — but are secretly interested in trotting it out ourselves. Or maybe we are stuck in a particular parenting strategy, or determined to make family dinner work even though everyone is white-knuckling their way through it given competing work schedules, different food preferences, etc. Or or or or. The point is that it is never too late to start something new, to change your mind, to aim in a new direction.

I think I’ll be lingering over this notion for a long time to come, especially in moments where I feel constrained to do something. Why do I feel this way? Says who? I will ask. I am change.


+A similarly empowering quote from FSF.

+I can’t quit a gingham shirtdress. I would wear this with a pair of white quilted canvas Chanel flats I have and my Pam Munson tote.

+Oh yes, this linen maxi skirt. Would make me feel so sophisticated with a simple white tank and some great tortoise shell shades.

+Speaking of great shades, I shared a roundup of my favorite sunglasses styles for 2021 (most under $150), and I have to add another possibility: these high-end looking sunnies for well under $100.

+These $60 shearling slippers are a dead-ringer for Sleeper’s, which have enjoyed something of a cult following this long winter.

+All my best discoveries so far in 2021.

+Adorable pink suede ballet flats. Love the dusty shade and the roped bow!

+Such a cute terry cloth swim coverup for a little lady.

+This blockprint pouch in the green!!!

+Sun House just launched a really cute set of swimsuits for littles – I couldn’t resist this one for mini!

+This floral jumpsuit is amazing.

+These white jeans turned my head. Such a fresh shape.

+Recent (great) Etsy finds.

+Most ridiculous (?) thing I have ever shared, but how amazing are these Gucci toddler sandals?

+If you’re looking for a way to fill long, slow weekends with little children at home

+These pants are absolutely amazing.

+I LOVE these flamingo glasses! (More great drinkware here.)

+10 things you need in your kitchen.

+Chic pastel finds for kitchen and home.

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2 thoughts on “I Am Change.

  1. Oooh. Zen and motherhood? So intrigued by the concept of this book!

    “I am change” resonates with me in the sense that it reminds me that there are things within my control even when a situation feels out of control. I’d love to remember this mindset more often!

    What you wrote about children learning that they are not the center of the universe struck a chord with me too. I heard somewhere (and I wish I could quote it or credit the source but I can’t remember) that an important lesson for young children to learn is that they can be AT the center of our world (meaning that they know we love and prioritize them), but not THE center. A subtle distinction in phrasing, but a big difference in mindset and approach. I was reminded of this recently when I was alone with my 3 year old and had a pounding headache, and I had to tell her that yes I love her and enjoy playing with her but right now I have to lay down and rest, and afterwards we could read books together. I could have gone the more self-sacrificing route but I really had to take a moment to take care of myself, thinking my condition would just worsen had I not done the latter. Later, I wondered how many times have I unintentionally made her THE center? Especially during that first year (not necessarily those first few months because well, newborns cry!) when we just wanted to avoid that crying spell because we are alone with a baby and exhausted?

    And on another note, isn’t that the joyful yet sometimes (often?) challenging thing about toddlers — that what they are doing or playing or what they have in mind RIGHT NOW is the most important thing? One thing I do try nowadays is to adjust my phrasing with my daughter a little bit, especially during those bids for attention while I am finishing a task. I say, “yes, I would love to do that with you after I finish xyz!” and asking her either “would you like to do this or that while waiting.” I find that this helps her wait a bit longer than if I start my response with a “no” or “not right now.”

    Aaahh so many parenting thoughts to ponder on, as always!

    1. Hi Mia! I love the way you summarized the ethos of this author’s words: “there are things within my control even when a situation feels out of control.” I love that. Thank you! Applicable to so many situations beyond parenting!

      I also love the idea of children being at the center but not THE center.

      So much insight here!!


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