The Things Your Children Will Miss.

By: Jen Shoop

This week, I came across a reel from screenwriter and father Dillon White in which he talks about “the things your children will miss” when they grow older. I wept big, fat tears I didn’t know I needed to shed. (Proceed at your own caution!). At the beginning of the reel, White succinctly describes how and why the well-intentioned comments “you’re going to miss this” and “enjoy this time while your children are young” — while undoubtedly prophetic — are unhelpful and even blunt, unfeeling, when you are in the weeds of rearing young children, and how they can often trigger a cycle of guilt. I have certainly felt that way: chastised for admitting the unglamorous multiplicities of motherhood, and often the censure is self-sourced! I will beat myself up for losing my patience; I will agonize over why I was so brusque with my son as soon as the door closes and he has trotted off to school. Oh, it is a heartburning gymnastic, this motherhood. It can feel as though you are doing nothing right: not playing enough with your children, not giving them the right foods, not saying all the things you need to say, not keeping the house organized and accessible for them, not responding as you should, not balancing it all well enough.

Deep breaths.

White talks midway through the reel about switching from a “you’re going to miss this” headspace to a “they’re going to miss this” one, and how that changes the dynamic. How you go from “oh God, I need to make every minute count and hold myself accountable for everything and nail the balance of it all constantly” to “I think this will matter to my son, and I’m glad I’m doing this for him right now.” And so it becomes (in my mind) more about looking for the peaks, and climbing those, rather than seeking a constant, impossible elevation of performance. I shared this with a fellow parent, and he responded that even flipping the language from “you’re going to miss this” to “they’re going to miss this” felt challenging to him — that it still feels as though we’re erasing the parent’s whole self from the equation, and not giving ourselves elbow room to just be. I knew what he meant. Both mantras ask a lot of us. Still, White’s version feels a bit easier for me to wrap my hands around, as it’s less “do this now so you don’t regret it later” and more “what will matter to my son in twenty years’ time”? The rubric shifts focuses me.

White also talks specifically about how his four year old son was sick over the weekend and cried out in the middle of the night: “Dad!” and how he went to his boy without any feelings of frustration or fatigue because he saw, immediately, how rare and precious it was that he was the first thing that came out of his child’s mouth when he felt scared, or in pain. He goes on to say how much he would like to be able to call out his own father’s name, and have him come running.

In other words, he saw a gleaming moment in which he could fill a need that would matter to his son for a long time, and he filled it.

Reader, I wept! Both because White was letting some air out of the balloon and also because, my God!, what an incredible gift, to be needed! To be the answering hush, the calm hand on the forehead, the feet running down the hallway in the night.

Which is to say: if, today, we can find one moment in which we do something that we feel matters substantively to our children, that is enough. (We are assuredly filling many more than we think anyhow, just by virtue of our presence and love.) What is one thing I can do today that my children will later miss, and be grateful for? Is it the love note in the lunchbox? The fact that you show up for baseball practice, just to watch? The extra chapter before bedtime because you’re both excited about a book? The dancing in the kitchen to your favorite song? Playing Barbies, or Magna-tiles, or cards? We don’t need to nail everything all the time (and we can’t!), but if we can find one thing that we think will matter to them when they look back in 20 years, there’s the gold.

What do you think?


+Sometimes the work of motherhood is nothing like you imagined.

+On the early days of motherhood, and how they often force you to temporarily retreat from the world. And that’s OK! This time, too, shall pass.

+On building friendships through motherhood.

Shopping Break.

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

+Chic and simple raincoat. Also love the ones from Stutterheim (<<several colors on sale!). Tis the rainy season! Which also reminds me that these $31 rain coats are incredible for kids — lined in soft striped jersey. (They remind me of the ones from Petit Bateau, which my children had when they were younger! But I swear these $31 ones are virtually the same!)

+Pretty spring blouse from Anthro.

+Love the fit of these white jeans. Imagine with J. Crew’s chic linen vest!

+Sadly, Amanda Lindroth is closing her gorgeous home decor shop! Everything is 30% off, including already-discounted items, like this fab Birkin basket bag (I own and adore it! A great petite size), these wicker bar stools, and loads of chic table linens. (Discount appears in cart.)

+As we approach pool weather, you might consider ordering one of these terry polos for your husband! Mr. Magpie has two from this brand that he loves. He likes to throw these on when going to/from pool with his swim trunks. (And he has several pairs of Vilbrequin trunks — spendy but very cool. Love this striped pair.)

+Rylee and Cru released the cutest line of play/athletic clothes for kids. Love these patterned bike shorts and leggings!

+This aqua crochet dress is beyond gorgeous.

+As you know, I’m a huge fan of Hanni products for in- and post-shower skin moisturization, but this Osea undaria body butter is incredible, too. I have had this one dry patch on my ankle for – not kidding – years. The undaria body butter actually solved the problem! This stuff is good for super-dry skin. Very thick but does blend in. A magic cream!

+I love reading about how you handle skincare for travel. Lots of different perspectives that run in different directions, but I liked the point that one of you made: buy what you love in small/travel sizes, because the containers actually do matter. Like, I have historically decanted what I need into little travel containers and sometimes this works well, but what about a detangling spray, or shampoo that is irritating to get out of a little tub? I have been thinking more critically about the packaging. Anyway, just noticed that Davines offers a travel set with my favorite shampoo, conditioner, and conditioning/detangling spray. Ordered.

+Cutest little brass task lamp – under $60.

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8 thoughts on “The Things Your Children Will Miss.

  1. WOW! This post knocked me off my feet in the best, most bittersweet Mom way possible. I hold myself (like many Moms) to impossibly high standards. This was a great way to reframe my Type A, must be the best, eldest daughter mind. You are always bringing up the best thinking points, Jen! I am usually going back to them over a few days.

  2. Jen, I needed this today. I’m prone to putting too much pressure on myself, and it doesn’t make me a better mother; it just makes moments more heightened and fraught. I try to remind myself that today’s intensive parenting is the issue, that I can’t smooth every moment for my children and husband, nor should I. A picture perfect childhood is not the goal. My son loves the nights I make hot dogs perhaps more than the nights I make an elaborate meal, since I’m more able to laugh and breathe. He can’t see the yardsticks I’m measuring myself against.

    I loved your post yesterday *and* it filled me with a bit of panic. I am so bad at *not* saying the thing that doesn’t need to be said. My worries overflow. I badly chipped our marble counter yesterday. My son was grabbing me around the neck and poking me with his toy broom. I shouted. My son told me to take a deep breath and calm down. Everything was dire. I told my husband I was in deep despair. And then my period arrived a week early and a light shone: I’m not terrible, my body just makes me feel that way sometimes. I had a shower and a high protein meal and suddenly all was right with the world. And suddenly, being needed was once again a gift instead of a burden.

    PS that polo looks sooooo nice poolside! I’ll be trying to snag something similar for Father’s Day.

    1. Oh Kelly – this is one of the realest, and more relatable comments I’ve ever received. I have been there 100000000 times. I remember vividly the day I reversed our brand new car through our garage door. Just beforehand, I’d snapped at my kids, who were dilly-dallying and making us late for school, and was fiddling with the radio, and then I literally backed through a door. I was so flustered by it, and mad at myself, and my husband wasn’t happy, and my kids were late for school — oh my God. Those days happen, and you feel like the worst version of yourself. I’m so glad you found a way through — sometimes there really is no way out but through! The post yesterday – I hope you know those are goal posts rather than, like, skis. I’m not gliding down a mountain on them. I’m reaching for them constantly. I fail routinely at them! I still takes things way too personally, and worry too much, and the whole nine. But they are beacons, destinations for a future me. Or maybe places I land on fortunate days. Do not panic. You’re doing great, mama!!!!


    2. Wow Kelly, I relate to ALL of this!! Less fraught moments, please. I’ve been trying to remind everyone (especially myself) that sometimes we need to be flexible! And sometimes our expectations won’t be met! And it’s ok to be disappointed but then we need to move on with our day. (And then I had to explain what “expectations” are, haha!). I did serve hotdogs for dinner last night, with frozen French fries and peas, and there were zero complaints 🙂 Trying to tell myself that all those food additives are ok once in a while…

      1. Amen to this Stephanie! “Sometimes we need to be flexible, and sometimes our expectations won’t be met, and it’s OK to be disappointed but then we need to move on.” YES.


        1. Thank you ladies for the perspective! Onward and upward, and looking for the wins. Today we had a huuuuge tantrum when the babysitter was here, and she said in very calm French that it’s absolutely normal, and we must adapt. She played with my daughter instead and I got some one-on-one time with my big boy, and tried my best to forget all the tasks I had earmarked for this time. Working on “failing, routinely” ie getting comfortable with a deviation from the plan as part of my day. xx

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