Musings + Essays

Normal Day.

By: Jen Shoop

It can be easy to lose a sense of perspective these days. I’m either dialed in on the nitty gritty of newborn care (“But what is this rash? At what point do I start to worry? When do I call in the big guns — my mother and my pediatrician — for their perspective? A few hours from now? A day from now? Two?”; “Did he poop yesterday?”; and “Wow — he might need an extra ounce of formula!”) or lost in its footslog, and an entire day can pass me by without much introspection or thought. I stumbled across this poem by Mary Jean Irion the other day and it stopped me dead in my tracks:

Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
let me learn from you, love you,
bless you before we depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest
of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
let me hold you while I may,
for it may not be always so. one day
I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in the pillow,
or stretch myself tart,
or raise my hands
to the sky and want, more
than all the world, your return.


A heady reminder to lift myself from the particulars and smile at them. Or, when I’m too tired to smile, at least nod my head at them.

I sat in my shadowed bedroom this morning at 6:32 a.m., the curtains still drawn in an effort to prolong micro’s sleepy start to the day, and though my aching arms wanted desperately to place him in his bassinet in order to steal an extra ten or fifteen minutes of sleep before mini roused in the nursery next door, I sat there and took in the now-memorized sounds of Mr. Magpie’s morning routine: the muted roar of the shower in the bathroom, its abrupt cessation just ten seconds before the “clang” sound the shower door makes as it closes, the occasional whistling or throat clearing that punctuates his skincare regimen. The jostle of Tilly’s tags and collar when she hears Mr. Magpie returning to the bedroom, as she knows it’s nearly time for her morning walk. Her slow stretch, the lethargic wag of her tail. The squirm of micro in my arms, his grunts and moans as I burp him. The swaddling of his little form — so customary now I barely register its motions. One arm down, one corner of the swaddle tucked under his back. Then the other side. Then pull the bottom up over his legs, smooth everything down, tuck the corners in.

“How’s it going?” — nearly always the first thing Mr. Magpie says to me as he enters the bedroom, after he assesses my alertness. (I am occasionally sitting upright, but in a state of fitful sleep, micro in the crook of my arm or on my shoulder.) A brief and courteous chat about micro’s sleep pattern the night prior, followed by a shared moment of commiseration or excitement, which promptly dissolves into the march of the morning, forgotten.

Minutes later: the smell of coffee wafting through the apartment. Snippets of Mr. Magpie’s conversations with mini captured over the monitor: “Did you have a good sleep?…happened to your bunny?…out the…oh no! out the crib!…yes, baby brother…sleep…so silly…mommy’s still asleep…”

The thud of mini’s feet on the parquet floors. The clang of dishes, the open and close of the fridge.

In the wake of reading Irion’s poem, I saw these details for what they were: the ho-hum, unremarkable — and yet tender, worn-in-at-the-seams ministrations of motherhood and marriage.

And, well, Irion made me remember that my biggest fear in life is losing not only my loved ones but the fabric of our life together, the itty bitty nothings that add up to big somethings, like the relationship that has defined my life. And as I’ve written elsewhere, committing the minutaie of our life together to memory — celebrating them — is something akin to a rejection of death.

And so, I am starting today — and, hopefully, all my days — by thanking God for it’s normalcy.


+Brene Brown had similar insights.

+Beginning to imagine what micro’s nursery will look like in our new apartment, which we’ve not yet found, but still. I love this simple and affordable blue-and-white striped rug, or maybe the sand-and-white striped one? Not sure I want the nursery to look too “little boy blue.” Or do I.

+Love the scent of my new hand cream so much (P.S. – included this in my post-partum favorites list), I’m buying it in hand soap form.

+OMG this top! Love the pattern.

+Speaking of toile, received this heavily discounted backpack (more sale finds here) and love it so much — but am thinking of actually giving it to mini for school this fall! It’s a little too small to carry my motherhood necessities.

+Love this swing sweatshirt in the Americana stripe.

+There are some really amazing deals at Janie + Jack right now — just ordered these linen shortalls and these bunny jams, among other things.

+These gingham pajamas! Love! (And on sale!)

+Has anyone tried Necessaire bath and body products?! I keep seeing them advertised everywhere. I’m intrigued by this eucalyptus-scented body wash.

+Been scouting TheRealReal and Outnet for discounted Zimmermann pieces lately — this is in my cart, and how good is this?!

+Into this trio of tortoise hair clips, worn all in a row.

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8 thoughts on “Normal Day.

  1. What a gorgeous poem and sentiment behind it. I would do well to reflect more on the happy minutiae of life. A thought for future journal entries!

    That toile backpack: so lovely, and it would be adorable on mini!

    I can review Nécessaire! I had the eucalyptus body wash in the winter, which I bought with the unscented body lotion at a one-time discount. I really liked the scent of the body wash and my boyfriend found the scent neutral enough to use (read: not flowery like my other favorite e-comm bodywash, Glossier’s Body Hero!) That said, I haven’t re-ordered, mostly out of laziness and knowing that I’d have to pay full price this time. The scent is pretty heavenly, though! Sometimes I see it pop up on Instastories with discount codes via ambassadors that I follow, so maybe keep your eyes peeled for those?

    I do LOVE the body lotion — it absorbs easily but is very hydrating! Five stars. xxx

    1. Thanks for the review! Going to try eucalyptus next time we run out of our de rigueur Molton Brown!


  2. I love love love this poem and come back to it often when I find myself losing perspective. The sights and sounds of first thing in the morning also come to mind for me as markers of a “normal day.” I might need to print the poem out and tack it to my mirror in anticipation on the harried newborn days that are just about two (!!) weeks away for us.

    1. !!! Such a tender, exciting, stressful time — those last two weeks are tough-going. Sending you the very best wishes.

      I will be returning to this poem frequently as well from now on. Love its message.

  3. Such an important reminder. Thank you.
    Thought you would want to know that the author’s last name is actually Irion. I suspect the oh-so-helpful autocorrect tool is to blame. xx

  4. Love this so much! I recently went back to work after baby and have to remind myself t cherish the ordinary moments instead of rushing from one task to the next. I know you’ve talked about this in a few posts but I would love to read more about how you manage your home, all the mundane errands to activities with Mini, special nights with you and Mr. – I feel like I never have enough time and don’t know what I should outsource or do myself. Would love to read more about how you handle all of that, especially now with two!

    1. Hi Aliya! So glad this hit you at the right moment. I should caveat and say that I often still find myself rushing from one task to the next, and that it’s always — ALWAYS — a balancing act. I will put together a post sharing a couple of thoughts on things that have helped me as I adjust, but the biggest (!!!) thing I tell myself is to set expectations low and to just sit still quietly for a few minutes a day, even when things feel chaotic…


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