Remembering Myself in Motherhood.

By: Jen Shoop

Micro was less than an hour old when my mother came into the recovery room to meet him. She wheeled around the corner, her shoulders nearly at her ears, raised in excitement, wearing an enormous smile on her face. She was making a beeline for the baby, but then she paused, turned on her heel, and said: “I need to see my baby first.” She came around to my bed and kissed me and rearranged my pillow, tutting over me in the way of all mothers. I will never forget her quick correction — the way she wanted me, the mother, to be seen and tended-to.

I’ve remembered it in moments where I feel lost in my own matrescence. I use that word, matrescence, with intention, because, though I am six years into the role, I am still becoming a mother. Some days, I feel purposeful, peaceful, as though I was destined for this. Other days, I see only my own ineptitude, or feel swallowed whole by the emotional whiplash of parenting two young children: I am Jonah in the belly of the whale. Just earlier today, I was on the phone with my mother, wandering my way through a new parenting challenge, and after we’d brainstormed and exchanged some thoughts, she offered: “Jen, there’s always something. You’ll work through this, there’s the next thing, and you’ll work through that.” “Hang in there, Jen, and don’t lose the plot while you’re finessing this particular sentence,” she seemed to be saying.

I remember calling my brother on the verge of tears during the depths of the pandemic, when we were smack dab in the middle of my mini’s threenager-dom. I was standing at the end of our long, narrow Manhattan kitchen, the one we couldn’t fully illuminate at night because my one-year-old son slept in the tiny “maid’s room” (an architectural vestige of pre-war living) off the pantry, and it had a transom window that let in the kitchen light and would wake my son if we weren’t careful. Even that strange lighting quirk felt apposite, metaphorical: I was fumbling through the dark in the service of my children.

That night, I felt erased by the magnitude of my own motherhood, by the intensity of my daughter’s moods.

“What am I doing wrong?” I asked my brother. It came out like a plea. (Just tell me!)

“Aw, Jen,” he said. “You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re a good mom. You’re a good person.”

Him reminding me that I was a person (I didn’t have the wherewithal to wonder at my goodness) sent a shockwave through me. He reminded me that I was not a single-track, some kind of conduit for care-giving. It was OK to feel frustrated, to be human. He showed me that I was not entirely measurable by the triumphs and tribulations of that single day of parenting. It brought to mind the way my mother had come to my bedside after my son was born: don’t forget yourself, she was telling me.

I think it is important to pluck myself out of my own motherhood every now and then. To see myself as a full, multi-dimensional woman, a person who is complex, and fallible, and curious, and passionate, and learning. To not, as I’ve written elsewhere, let my motherliness sit as a counterbalance to myself. By this I mean that motherhood is a part of me — not another version of me, and also not all of me. 

Post Scripts.

+Motherhood is a surfeit.

+On spinning yourself into the mother you want to be.

+A time for starlight and a time for lamplight.

+”I love the way you echo through my daily chores and counterspaces.”

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Shopping Break.

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

+OBSESSED with this boldly striped sweater from Everlane.

+A chic mid-rise denim silhouette.

+Love the sweater trim on this sweatshirt from Varley, and also drawn to this camel fleece style.

+OMG. A Barbie Helicopter?! I just added this to my cart for Christmas. Mini has been very into Barbs lately!

+My household favorites (things I repeatedly buy).

+This under-$100 silk mini dress reminds me of the one from Reformation I’ve been going gaga over. Pair with patterned tights.

+Cute snow mittens for us mamas.

+If you’re looking to round out your husband’s holiday gift pile, consider some of the athletic wear from Rhone. I’ve purchased Mr. Magpie a bunch of their pieces over the years. Love this simple white LS tee, for example — he already owns a few of the short-sleeved ones.

+Tis the season for colds! (Yuck.) All my sick day favorites here.

+These Nike trail runners come in such great color combos

+I thought this striped metallic shirt sold out, but maybe it was restocked? SO fun.

+New dog bowl for Tilly!

+Recent children’s finds.

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