Musings + Essays

I’m 35.

By: Jen Shoop


I shared some musings on turning 35 a few weeks ago, and — well, not much has changed except everything has changed and now I don’t have the time to wax poetic about the drifting of time because it feels like I’m in a weird time warp where I can’t believe micro will be ONE MONTH this Friday (I could sob — I never understood this sentiment from other parents, and didn’t even fully grasp it when mini was little, but now that I have a second, I feel a stab in my heart thinking: “Oh my God, he will never be this little again, and did I adequately obsess over his every grunt and movement and squirm? Will I remember the adorable little pucker he makes with his lips when — I presume — he is peeing? Will I recall that funny anxious cry he makes right before I feed him, when he is desperately rooting around?” I kept telling people he was “two weeks old” when he was in fact nearly three and continue to round down dramatically — “he was born just, like, ten days ago!” I want him to stay little and precious and needy forever.) and, at the same time, some afternoons feel like groundhog hour. Yes, groundhog hour — not day — in the sense that I’m on an infinite cycle of feeding, burping, changing, running frantically around to get things done, and then feeding, burping, changing…and sometimes those afternoons feel very long and tedious and I glaze over in exhaustion and existentialist empathy with Sisyphus and his rock.

But, enough on the alternately taut and slack experience of time.

I am 35 today and my God. I do feel it. Last weekend, Mr. Magpie dug up a bottle of rioja we’d bought in Spain over six years ago on our last major vacation (yep, six years ago — launching and closing a business, moving, and having two children will do that to ya?) and I made some braised lamb shanks and a potato dish to go with it, which was honestly far too ambitious for being three weeks postpartum, as the recipes involved such overly-fussy steps as making garlic confit and pitting olives. I was kicking myself when I was sweating in our little kitchen, moving things to side burners in order to pause and feed micro, trying to brown 1.5-lb shanks in batches with oil splattering everywhere (in short, the preparation of the meal may or may not have involved tears) — but it was delicious and honestly the most relaxed I have seen Mr. Magpie in a long while, as he has done 99% of the cooking in these parts and deserved a break. I had been determined to treat him to a major meal, especially since I’d botched Father’s Day by giving him an Apple TV 4K that I’d already given him the prior Father’s Day (I kid you not — #mombrain is real) and asked him to make his own dinner. (Is that so sad? That he selected and prepared a ribeye with oven fries to celebrate his own paternity? Ah.)

Anyhow, as we enjoyed the beautifully-aged rioja, which tasted like chocolate and something herbal I couldn’t quite put my finger on, Mr. Magpie pulled up some pictures of the two of us from our vacation in Spain and I could not believe how much I have aged in the past six years. In the photos, I looked rested, tanned, taut (the second time I’ve used that word in this post — it’s having a moment), and I had bangs and a big smile and a decent tan. By comparison, today I looked in the mirror at my unwashed hair and the dark circles under my eyes and my overall vaguely pale and gaunt mien and thought “oh, boy.” I’m trying to cut myself a lot of slack when it comes to “bouncing back” from having a second child but GOOD LORD, the distance between then and now is expansive purely from a physical standpoint. (Again, launching and closing a business, moving, and having two children will do that to ya?)

But, at the same time, looking at those pictures made me happy. Happy that we took the time and opportunity to travel by ourselves when we could. Happy that we were so happy then — though, truthfully, not as happy as we are now. Yes, these days are exhausting and overwhelming but we are also settled, which is maybe the most underrated aspect of a happy life — for me, at least. I know there are some who wander and roam and live a full and content Eat Pray Love life, but the snug feeling of being settled somewhere, with no major question marks or unknowns dangling over my head save for things like whether we’ll rent or buy or how long we’ll stay in Manhattan, which are — to be sure — the most fancy and fortunate question marks and unknowns to have in the universe — well, that is happiness, for me. It’s taken me the better part of thirty-five years to understand this, or — maybe — thirty-five years to get to place where I can stand still and look across my life and feel deeply satisfied. There are things I’d like to do and questions I’d like to answer and relationships I’d like to fortify, but when I just stand still and look at what I have, it is enough. In fact, it is more than enough. The richnesses of this life humble and overwhelm me.

OK, thirty five. I’m here, I’m humbled, I’m slightly greasy and under-showered, but I’m happy and ready for you.

Post Scripts: Things I Want Today.

This ultra-trendy dress. I feel like every single blogger and fashionista I follow on Instagram has been seen in it — and with good reason. It is darling.

Just ordered this in the “very charming” color — a petal pink.

This Pam Munson tote. (I am still getting a ton of use out of this and this, too! Can’t stop buying PM.)

These high-waisted shorts. My sister informed me that paper bag waists look good on approximately 1% of the population and I’m sure she’s right. But aren’t they adorable?

This fun little beach dress.

This gorgeous ottoman. (In another two decades or so, I can return to buying items upholstered in white.)

This beach read, which is getting solid reviews.

This discounted Saloni. My love for this label knows no bounds.

This for Hill, monogrammed in navy.

This Prada bag. (OMG.)

P.S. What I had to say when I turned 34.

P.P.S. Lucky to be children.

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15 thoughts on “I’m 35.

  1. Here to send 2.5+-weeks belated birthday greetings! It sounds like it was a lovely one. I can relate to so much of what you have to say here, even though we’re in pretty different stages of life. 🙂

    Intrigued by the Hilderbrand book … I’ve read a couple of her other ones and have liked them. I like the historical bent of Summer of ’69 … will add it to my list!


  2. happy birthday! This is my favorite corner of the internet. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs, the beauty, the musings, and everything in between. Have a great day with your sweet family!

    1. Hi Anna – OMG, you are so sweet. What a beautiful compliment. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments (I feel you have such a wonderful perspective on all things, but especially motherhood!) and for visiting with me. xoxo

  3. Oh HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 35 is a GREAT year because you now have the wisdom to decipher situations and opportunities with a quality that comes with age. So much fun! Enjoy it all!I
    You are blessed in many ways, and thank you for sharing them with us all on a daily basis. You are brave too!
    Happy, happy day! Make an extra wish when you blow out your candles. You deserve it.

  4. Happiest of birthdays! Feeling settled is an amazing gift, and I do hope you enjoy it and any other gifts the day (week… year…) bring your way!

    1. Thank you, Katie! 34 will be hard to top but I’m ready for 35 with my boy at my side 🙂 xoxo

  5. Happy, happy birthday, Jen! I hope you have a wonderful day with your beautiful family – and maybe a little nap and/or some time with a great book! xoxo

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