Long Days of Parenting.

By: Jen Shoop

Ed note: Today, republishing this musing from two years ago because, well, the final days of holiday break tend to involve…long days of parenting. Sending love and solidarity if you, too, are the mom hiding her face in the fridge. Reminding myself that my capacities shift from hour to hour, day to day, and that I need to give myself some grace.


We went from a Thanksgiving recess to an unanticipated 18-day-long quarantine straight into a two-week-long holiday break, and let me tell you —

These have been long, trying days of parenting.

I occasionally shrink from this admission when in company, because — well, I am a mother and this is my elective responsibility and it is difficult to admit that sometimes my children drive me absolutely mad because I am of course suffocatingly in love with them and grateful that these two tiny and perfect souls belong to me. I sat with my son in my arms for ten gorgeous minutes on Sunday evening — a rare, gem-like happening because he is a busy and writhing two-and-a-half-year-old-boy who must do everything himself, just the way he likes them. It was such a novelty that I wondered briefly whether he might be under the weather before fully leaning into the moment. For context, I recently pulled out the changing mat we stow beneath his bed and he shrieked at me with anger, shoving it back beneath. I watched him, quizzically. He then pulled it back out himself, arranging it perpendicular to the orientation I’d had it in beforehand, and looked at me triumphantly. “Hill!” he yelled. A prince stomping his foot, naming his territory. And it dawned on me that, well, normally I do pull it out in the direction he’d used: he had done it correctly, and I had not. So these are strange, never-ending days of negotiation and short temper and recalcitrance and independence-staking that I try to meet with gentle corrections. But as the day winds on, and my patience wears thin, I have been known to loudly recite the Hail Mary over squeals and cries and whimpers–more of an angry incantation than peaceful intercession, if I am honest. Some days I feel like a grizzled warden. It is the best I can do when meeting the inevitable “but I don’t want that” whining that accompanies the serving of dinner nearly every night, or the flinging of food from a churlish two-year-old, or the seemingly constant physical battles I must break up between them. There has been hair-pulling, and toy-throwing, and name-calling, and even a few instances of biting. It has been —

a —

long —


I am not writing this from the standpoint of self-admonishment or even self-improvement. I do often sit in reflection after the day has ended, parsing out what I aspire to do differently, but today I just want to shoulder the burden with any other moms flagging in the face of a long break, or muscling through a quarantine, or overwhelmed by the frenzy of the holidays with young children, or just in it for no reason at all. In a way, I think I anticipated the emotional toll of motherhood: I sensed that having children would be tantamount to walking on heartstrings. But I did not know how wearying the everyday parenting could be — how sometimes, after forty-five separate instances of reprimand over my son plucking ornaments off the tree, that I might actually pretend not to see him doing it a forty-sixth time because I cannot fathom moving through that conversation again. Of course, writing this out makes me realize that I have probably not dealt with the issue adequately to begin with (move the ornaments! clarify the rules! etc) but — wow. I would like to see myself as the type who calmly crouches down beside her son, firmly re-states the boundary and then smoothly redirects him, but sometimes I am the mom hiding her face in the fridge.


As we say —



+Quiet thoughts on parenting.

+Parenting advice I love.

+Getting through a tantrum phase.

+On weaning. (It remains one of the hardest parenting stretches to date, for me. So if it feels tough — IT IS!)

+A small relinquishing of control.

+Onward indeed.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+Perfect sunglasses. (Vibe for less — or, these ovals are also fun/trendy.)

+Cutest tweed jacket (under $100).

+Love these colorful, reasonably-priced wine glasses.

+For Valentine’s Day for your little.

+I’ve amassed quite the collection of Pam Munsons over the years, but I must add this one to the roster!

+Gorgeous napkins.

+Ordered this rack to organize our water bottles — will keep in our pantry.

+Such a chic and sleek writing desk.

+Amanda Lindroth has some really cute batik pattern shams on sale. Also love their new canvas totes — reminds me of the Garden Party style from Hermes!

+Calling all brides.

+I have this little napkin holder on our bar. Adds dimension/interest and keeps napkins organized.

+OMG. Love the pattern and silhouette on this Marysia suit.

+These toiletry bags spark so much joy.

+This gorgeous mirror is 40% off.

+Obsessed with this dress from Significant Other.

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22 thoughts on “Long Days of Parenting.

  1. I feel ya, Jen! Not that we are doing anything extravagant for the holidays, but we are seeing a few local relatives with more regularity and I feel like these little shifts in routine can have major implications with my two year old, to the point where he has separation anxiety if I….go down stairs to do laundry or, step out of his field of vision. It’s… a lot. It’s a lot to be so needed. He’s also not snuggly (I’d totally think he was sick if he ever sat on my lap for a long stretch outside of bedtime) and yet, he wants me near (but not too near) all the time. He’s also started losing it when I nurse his brother, who I’ve been nursing, without fail (lol), for almost 7 months. And for some reason he likes taking one ornament (a little jingle bell) off the tree and throwing it down the stairs. Honestly I’ve completely stopped reprimanding. I just don’t care. Haha! All this to say you are (clearly from all these comments) not alone!!!

    1. Yes – not alone!! I have been receiving so many messages and emails from moms in the same boat. It is a really tough stretch for a lot of us! Hang in there…!!!


  2. Not a parent but a substitute teacher, and wow I’ve done the SAME EXACT thing re: pretending not to notice mischievous behavior! (The school day is long! Decision fatigue sets in!)

    Saw a quote the other day: Take the w’s in each day, even if they’re in lowercase. Feels appropriate here 🙂

  3. Phew. At the beginning of this month, I was so looking forward to a few days off around Christmas with my two little people. But then Covid became really scary again, everything is shutting down, holiday events are being cancelled, and it just all feels so heavy. I lie awake at night scolding myself for not relishing these vacation days with my kids, because the reality is, at the end of the day, there is am embarrassing amount of moments I’d like to redo.

    I have a friend who recently told me that she wakes up every morning and questions to herself, what if today is the best day of my life. She said it made her think of every single thing in her day just a little bit differently, with more anticipation, joy, and grace. I’m going to try that tomorrow.

    1. I so relate, Elizabeth! I had a particularly disastrous holiday baking situation during quarantine. I wanted to enjoy the moment and lean into the holiday spirit but my children were being wild rascals and throwing ingredients everywhere and AHHH! I couldn’t get into the headspace. I wish I could redo that. I think my children had a great time but I was white knuckling it for sure…

      I love your friend’s framing of each day. So optimistic! Good to balance with the concept that sometimes we just have bad days, and that’s OK…there is a great book called “Angry Monkey” that I read with my daughter about a monkey who is just in a bad mood. Everyone keeps telling him — “be happy! everything is ok! smile! relax!” and it just keys him up more and more. The moral of the story is, at the end, sometimes it’s OK to just feel crummy…but it can help to commiserate with other people going through similar experiences.

      Anyway, hang in there!!!


  4. “I am a mother and this is my elective responsibility and it is difficult to admit that sometimes my children drive me absolutely mad because I am of course suffocatingly in love with them and grateful that these two tiny and perfect souls belong to me” — oh my goodness, YES. I think I read this term on one of your older posts: “emotional whiplash”. That phrase describes it perfectly!

    It has been a rough few weeks in our household too — our 4 year old had a runny nose and cough for several days, which meant she could not sleep more than 15-minute stretches at a time, until finally I had her sit to sleep on my lap half-upright. Then a week later my husband took a week-long work trip to UK (which I had hoped would get canceled due to omicron, but no — so there was the anxiety over that in addition to solo parenting). Throw multiple potty accidents into the mix and…. WHEW.

    I’m here sitting in solidarity with you and other parents going through similar phases!

    And I hope everyone in your family is on the mend so you can enjoy the holidays!

    1. Thank you! Yes – emotional whiplash! Exactly. It makes every single thought tinged with something else — i.e., “I feel frustrated…but I should feel grateful!” and “I feel happy…but is he happy too?” It’s exhausting!!

      You’re doing great. Hang in there!


  5. Thanks for putting into words how I often feel with a 4 and 1 year old. It’s easy to think you’re alone in these feelings when you see the highlight reels of social media. A lot of times I feel so guilty (mom guilt always, about everything!) feeling like this or like I just need to try harder since there are so many reminders to cherish these moments. And I do know that someday I’ll look back and miss having little kids, but it is also SO hard sometimes.

    1. Oh Sarah – I so profoundly relate to this. There is a quote going around Instagram about how “one day we’ll all be back together, brunching, and we’ll look wistfully at playgrounds remembering these years when our children were young.” I love the optimism and sentiment, but the quote just made me feel bad! I actually had a long conversation with Mr. Magpie about that exact quote. We decided that we can’t be living in a mindset where we just want to “get through to the next phase” because, well, this is our life! We are living it! Our children are here and they aren’t preparing for life — they are LIVING IT. We have to embrace these years. At the same time, it’s totally OK to say, “This is hard. I am tired. I am allowed to feel those things. And sometimes it doesn’t help to have someone tell me I should enjoy this moment while I’m feeling those things.” I think one of the complexities of parenthood, as Mia alluded to in her comment, is that you are constantly balancing at least three different emotions about everything.

      Anyway, hang in there! Right there with you!!! This is a bumpy season.


  6. As a parent of two littles, I understand completely! My son would launch everything across the table at meal time. While my husband was impressed with his accuracy and throwing arm, I was not pleased. This too shall pass… and then onto the next thing.

    I bought those straw baskets for a recent beach vacation and they are so adorable! Great find!

    1. Aren’t they adorable?! We received one as a gift for Emory and it is so sweet — and something cute to style on her bookshelf when not in use, too!


  7. Oh yes, I too am occasionally the mom who pretends not to see some infraction so I don’t have to reprimand AGAIN. Which makes me wonder…how many things did I think I got away with but it was really my mom pretending she didn’t notice?? And I’m not catholic but I strongly related to the image of you loudly reciting Hail Mary over whining children!

    We had to send our 4yo to bed immediately following dinner last night after she pushed all of our buttons and called all our bluffs. I expected her to cry in protest for a while or at least stay up chatting with her stuffed animals but she was OUT almost immediately, more than an hour earlier than usual. Hoping the long sleep leads to a better attitude today!

    1. Oh man – been there, my friend! I do think exhaustion is a common culprit for the craziness around the dinner hour.

      Thank you for the solidarity. Fingers crossed you have a smoother sail today!

  8. Merry Christmas to you!
    At that age my son took a broom and decided to smack the tree. I got the implement away from him ,took the ornaments off, dragged the tree outside, cut it in half and put in on top of a table. Took about 10 minutes. Easier for me! Far harder was trying to corral him, he would run and hide under our 4 poster bed, positioned in the middle so I couldn’t reach him from either side and would have to crawl under to get him! And all with a giggle and sly smile! I love those memories! jd

    1. Ha! I can totally imagine the sly giggle/smile — we’ve seen a lot of that while he’s in the middle of doing something he shouldn’t. Reassuring to know one day I’ll look back fondly…


  9. Always love your writing – even though I am not a parent!

    Also hoping you can help me. My SIL just gave birth to her first and would like to gift the baby a Christmas “present.” Not that she will remember it… it’s more for mom. Any suggestions? I don’t want it to be practical because that was taken care of with the registry but I also don’t want it to just take up space? Preferably under $50.

    1. Hi! So sweet of you. I often give one of these footies with a big monogram on the rear end as a baby gift:

      Don’t worry if you order a size 6 mo (appear to be sold out in smaller sizes) — I was always happy to have a backstock of things to fit the baby into down the road!

      These are a bit more expensive but such a special, luxe heirloom gift for a baby:

      I bought one for micro when he was born.

      I recently gave this adorable sherpa coverall to my sister who just gave birth:

      Too sweet.

      There are some other great layette/footie/gift ideas here:


    1. Hi Leigh – So glad this post arrived at the right time for you. Trust me — you are not alone. I’m currently texting with two girlfriends who are in the throes of parenting fatigue. It is a tough time!!


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