Mr. Magpie

Stay a Little Longer.

By: Jen Shoop

This morning, re-publishing an essay from the archives. It glints with new meaning this week — the passage of time, the seemingly invisible gaining and losing of things we love. Today I am challenging myself to see it all — my daughter’s two front teeth, halfway-grown-in; my son’s defiant cowlick; the arbor vitae that dance outside my window all day long — and to invite these ephemera to sit still for a second, even if they won’t stay this way much longer.


A couple of college summers, Mr. Magpie waited tables at Faccia Luna in Arlington. His shifts ended late, but he routinely drove the 20-ish minutes to my childhood home in Northwest Washington, D.C., where he would eat his 11 p.m. dinner standing at the kitchen island. I learned a lot from those late night conversations: that you should never take a pen from a restaurant (he had to supply his own), that waiting tables is tiring work, that the customer is always right even if you must eat your pride to accommodate their quibbles or outright wrongnesses, and that he must have really liked me to make those midnight treks. “Tell me more,” I’d say, and he would describe the impatient guest who left a short tip, or the two women who sat in the corner all evening ordering only an appetizer, and I would imagine him navigating these interactions and wondering how anyone could not see who I did in their waiter. I felt a twinge of protectiveness, of near-jealousy, as I’d envision him accommodating both the unkindnesses and flirtations of strangers. “What else did they say?” I would pry, and he’d tilt his head back to remember. As the nights drew long, he would begin to gather himself to leave.

“Stay a little longer,” I’d plead,

and he would.

I’d forgotten these visitations (how?) until this weekend, when some alchemy of home town happenstance and dinner at a pizza joint not too dissimilar from Faccia Luna — Frankly Pizza in Kensington, MD — dredged them up. We made eyes over the table while our children fought over a sheet of stickers, and I found the delta between our lives right now and the ones we lived back in our early 20s staggering. On the way home, I had to clench my jaw to prevent tears from welling in my eyes. It was occurring to me that I now have so many of the things I one day dreamt of. That a lot of the anxious and worrisome meanderings of my twenties and thirties had finally deposited me here, in this car driving through the neighborhood of a close childhood friend, and I had my husband and two children and a spirited dog to show for it, and it was almost unbearable to think that after decades of willing life into an arrangement that resembles the one I am now enjoying, after hurtling through time like an arrow, after positively sprinting to find a vocation that is meaningful, to conceive and raise two young children, to move around the country in search of a comfortable and permanent perch, I am now at a landing that I never want to leave. Yes, there are goals for the future, but can’t we stay here a little longer?

Time, however, keeps moving apace, unguent and slick.

“I will be seven next year,” asserts my daughter, proudly, her front teeth wiggling,

And the azaleas that bloomed yesterday now litter the lawn.

My husband brings news of the green cherries on the the tree:

“They’ll be gone within a few weeks — damned chipmunks.”

My son burst into tears this morning when I informed him that it was not, in fact, his birthday. He had been confused by the nomenclature: we’d told him “tomorrow is the beginning of May!,” and he had conflated the month with his birthday, which falls on the 31st. His mouth formed an upside down u, his brow furrowed in disappointment: I could see the shape of his tiny spirit, desperate to grow.

I pulled him into myself, smelling his little-boy hair, still downy-soft; I wiped the tears from his cheeks. I wanted to say:

“Stay a little longer.”

Even if he does not want to hear it now,

are there any supplications more beautiful?


+Despite the foregoing, I know that every phase is a good phase, and that we don’t ever lose the ages of our children: we carry them all with us, inside.

+A young Mr. Magpie and his Jeep.

+Falling in love at UVA.

Shopping Break.

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

+This denim dress is so good — looks like it’s from a higher-end designer, but under $120.

+Has anyone tried Kate McLoud’s body stones?! I keep hearing fantastic things. They are lotion bars. I think I’m going to treat myself. I will say I’m still loving all the deeply hydrating products from Hanni, though! I use this spray-on “balm” (sort of a liquid lotion) and oil every time I get out of the shower.

+Pretty scalloped personalized stationery.

+These kids’ pocket tees come in such great colors. While there, these are probably my son’s most-worn everyday pants and many of them are on sale. Great colors, sturdy, hold up well, easy to pull-on. A great buy.

+There’s this whole conversation going on amongst the serious fashion Substackers about how we’re heading into an era of richly draped clothing that one newsletter (Magasin) described as follows: “Fashion is entering a menswear revival that spans the Renaissance to the Regency—epochs apart but united in their ensembles of delicately billowing sleeves, sumptuous contrasts, and handsome finishes.” This dress from Banana feels of that vein. Love the ice blue color and looks like something Tibi would put out.

+Just when you think La Coqueta couldn’t get any sweeter…! Their spring collection is darling and perfect for Easter Sunday. This dress…! These shortalls!

+I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of my new VB vest. Strongly rec a vest for this season into spring/summer. Banana has a good one here.

+The oushak rugs at Locust Lane are spectacular. I can’t get over the colors and motifs! They match the colors to Benjamin Moore paints. How clever?! Love this and this.

+Cute $20 Paris tee for layering beneath blazers, with sweats/leggings, etc.

+Fun terry cloth beach dress. Serious fashion writers and Substackers are calling this mid-blue the “it” color at the moment.

+For a maternity shoot: dreamy and gorgeous.

+This shoe flies a private jet to Ibiza for spring break. (I love her!!!)

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10 thoughts on “Stay a Little Longer.

  1. Don’t waste your money on the body stones. They’re expensive and don’t last long. Look for a brand that sells cheaper ones or browse Etsy.

  2. Hi Jen! I teach elementary school, and your description of your son assuming May = birthday was so visceral! Feel like I’ve had similar kinds of moments with young students, and it’s always a fine line to tread between genuine sympathy but also a bit of mirth at the adorable (!) misconception. lol

    1. Oh gosh, you know it well then! It is sometimes so hard to keep a straight face but I really want to honor his big emotions at the same time. It was a really sweet moment.


  3. I loved this reflection. I often repeat this mantra in my head when I’m feeling overwhelmed, reflecting on each word “I have everything I need. I have everything I need. I have everything I need.” I have truly everything I need. What a feeling, when that hits you. A similar sentiment! It’s easy to get bogged down in the churn of daily life and forget that. xx

    1. I LOVE this mantra. I think you shared it awhile ago and it comes to mind frequently for me now. Thank you!


  4. Thank you so much for this post. I need to be reminded that I too have everything I dreamed for as a child. Especially a loving, caring husband who is my rock!
    Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves to live in the moment/today!
    Thank you

    1. Yes!! I need to remind myself of this, too. It’s so good for me to step outside my life for a second and see everything I have and how long I wanted it for!!


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