The Looking Glass.

By: Jen Shoop
"She looked back at me, her cheekbones carved delicate like mine, and I felt just as I did those days in the plastic pool: held, and looked after."

I saw my grandmother just now —

I was looking in the mirror, and she stared straight back.

My cheekbones, the ones I have studied since my teens, were not mine at all. They were mine for a split-second, and then hers. Or rather, they were hers for 76 years, and now mine.

Is it my age that draws our appearances closer together, each year more fully aligning the two sheets of tracing paper, or was it that she needed to tell me something?

I remember her showing me off to her friends at the supermarket when we visited her in Painesville, Ohio, all those years of my youth. “Oh Carm,” they’d say. “She looks just like Pat.” Beautiful Pat — her cherished, her anointed, her only daughter — and Grandma would agree. And then we’d drive to her home, and she’d pour me milk in a small plastic tumbler with Donald Duck on the side, and fill the small plastic pool in her backyard, and watch me play in the water beneath the oak trees. The way she would sit with me — not preoccupied, not killing time, not mentally ticking forward to dinner plans, not condescending with questions or chirping with praise — but happily looking on over me, her legs crossed beneath a midi-length skirt in a folding chair, as though her time was as plentiful as the Lake Plain prairies.

Last week, I found words scant, scattered like lion-stalked gazelle, chased out by fear and worry. This thing, this boundless hunger to dip my heart in ink, withdrew in strike, growing gaunt in the spinney. My grandmother looked back at me, her cheekbones carved delicate like mine, and I felt just as I did those days in the plastic pool: held, and looked after.

I wrote not long ago that our lives become mosaics of the people we love. What a gift to catch a glimpse of one in my own reflection, as though passing through the looking glass to love.


+It is so important, and powerful, to write down what you remember about your loved ones who have gone. My father instilled this in me long ago. He wrote and self-published a history of all four of our grandparents so that my siblings and I, and our children, would have a clear sense for our roots.

+Another essay on my grandmother, and the loss of her only daughter.

+Finding memories of my maternal grandparents in my new (suburban) neighborhood.

Shopping Break.

+I shared these under-$100 Mary Janes over the weekend and they have been flying. I ended up ordering in the leopard, which is kind of an unusual pick for me! They reminded me of these much more expensive Le Monde Beryls.

+UBeauty launched a new tinted skin hydrator this morning. I know many of you love their hydrator — this offers a hint of coverage and radiance. Cannot wait to try! (As you know, I’m a big pan for their lip plasma. Wear daily!)

+These are still our favorite cableknit tights for mini. Super warm, soft, and thick — plus a great price! Somehow my daughter ruins hers at the knees within a few wears…

+A chic, under-$75 cocktail table. Perfect for holding a mug or glass of wine by your favorite perch.

+These burgundy suede platforms are my dream Thanksgiving/fall shoe, and are currently on sale.

+Somehow these fantastic sleeping pillows are still 40% off (tick the coupon box beneath the price). This was a “Prime Big Deal Day” offer but it’s still running.

+Are you going anywhere warm this winter? We are going to Tulum in January and probably Disney later in the spring (time keeps flying and we’ve still not made our arrangements…). I love Minnow’s latest collection for resort season. This cocoa/almond colored pattern is so unexpected and chic! Love it in the boy’s boardies and this ruched suit for mini, and also kind of want it for myself? I’ve not tried their womens swimwear but Minnow is practically the only brand my children wear. (Also love this “pistachio vine” print.)

+For right-now wear from Minnow, this dress is on its way to my daughter!

+This adorable sherpa jacket is on super sale right now.

+I remember spotting a mom with one of these wearable key rings back in my days of stroller pushing through Central Park and thinking how smart it was so she didn’t need to fumble in her bag when bopping in and out of her apartment with stroller and toddlers in tow.

+J’adore these Alexandre Birman glittery sandals! I own this shoe in a leather nude color and it’s still my favorite for special occasions, even five or six years (maybe more…?) after purchase.

+TRULY the most darling Nutcracker nightgown for a little love, and these for a little prince! I’m taking both of my children to the Nutcracker this year and might need to buy these…

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4 thoughts on “The Looking Glass.

  1. This post reminded me of the quote, “Your facial features are proof that your features have been loved for centuries,” the author of which I am not sure.

    I look nothing like my mother, who is tiny and olive-skinned with dark hair, but sometimes, when I put my hair up in a claw clip in a certain way and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, she looks back at me. You nailed the feeling of the sentimentality of looking at your own features and realizing they are, in fact, not yours. How lucky we are to know the people whose faces look back at us, and even luckier that they were/are such strong, kind women.

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