Musings + Essays

Turning 35.

By: Jen Shoop

I turn (gulp, just say it) thirty five on June 26th. Thirty five. Thirty five has always sounded to me like mortgages, mammograms, and minivans. Like meetings with accountants, calling “my lawn guy,” going to bed at nine-fifteen-p.m., and eating cottage cheese while my kids enjoy pancakes. Like a La Croix when I really want a full-calorie Sprite.

But it’s not. Thirty-five is the neighbor to thirty-four, which has been an exceptionally generous year in my life. It was a year that answered. It was a year of emotional thawing, or warming, and on my thirty-fourth birthday, I watched Mr. Magpie transform before my eyes after a particularly trying string of frustrations and dislocations.

I will never forget this happy year in our small apartment, its walls already lit with the haze of nostalgia: rolling fresh pasta at our drop-leaf dining room table, in the midst of a major pasta obsession thanks to this cookbook, while cursing the diminutive size of our kitchen; the sound of mini’s breathless laughter during her maiden piggy-back rides on Mr. Magpie while I was sitting idly in the green and white striped rocking chair in her nursery, impossibly pregnant — just the sound of their laughter together in the other room made my heart swell; the Easter dinner that stretched from 5 PM to 8 PM with my sister and brother-in-law, punctuated by a dance party at mini’s behest, limbs flailing, music blaring; the sight of mini, sprawled out on her stomach, intently coloring her Disney coloring books; the many late nights reading in my bed while listening and not-listening to the city sounds just outside my window; the way I cajoled mini out of the bathtub on countless nights by telling her to bring Mr. Magpie “a cappuccino” of bubbles in a little blue plastic coffee cup, her dimpled butt sprinting out of the bathroom to present it to him, joyously. This is the stuff of a good childhood, I think, or I hope. But also — the stuff of a good parenthood. The snuggly feeling of belonging and attachment and safety and all-is-right-with-the-world. And I have thirty-four to thank for that feeling of respite after what feels like a decade of movement and undulation and uncertainty.

So I am grateful to thirty-four. And eager for what thirty-five will bring, too. I have a hunch — the kind of hunch you get when you read the first few pages of a book and feel yourself really lean in — it’s going to be a good one.

Post Scripts: What I Want to Wear on My Birthday.

I’ve asked Mr. Magpie to make reservations at either Prune, again (because — I mean, it was magic last year) or Le Coucou, because I’ve wanted to go there forever. And for the occasion, my sister and I have decided we will dress up: heels, gowns, whatever impractical fashion accessories we are into at the moment. Below, my top picks for a birthday dress — many of which I’ve featured multiple times over on le blog, so that should show you how much I’ve been pining after post-partem clothing:

+This Staud!

+If money were no object, I’d love to wear a Brock Collection dress like this or this or an Emilia Wickstead like this.

+More in the realm of reality, but similar in vibe: this Alice McCall, this Reformation, or this under-$100 score.

+This Agua Bendita dress which has been EVERYWHERE on EVERY influencer and OMG I can see why.

+This romantic Doen.

+This punchy Sheridan French.

+This Self-Portrait (on super sale!).

+This gingham midi.

+This dramatic Rhode.

Aaaand a couple of under-$100 birthday gifts I may just need to snag for myself: these frayed, knotted mules (LOVE! — $60!); this voluminous floral blouse; this nightie/coverup; this Cult Gaia bag (on sale!); this striped and smocked midi; these pearl and heart earrings.

P.S. More golden moments and golden hours here. This year was full of them.

P.P.S. My musings on the eve of turning thirty-four.

P.P.P.S. You are enough.

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7 thoughts on “Turning 35.

  1. As one almost-35-year-old to another (my birthday is a week before yours!) — I loved this post. Such a good reminder to reflect on my many blessings, rather than any fear/anxiety around aging. Thank you, thank you.

    I LOVE all of your birthday dress picks! This year I will be wearing a floral Rebecca Taylor midi to dinner. I’m also on the lookout for a cute day dress (or skirt) for an event at the Wing … we shall see! I recently purchased that smocked/striped linen number from the Gap and I really like it. 🙂

    Hope you are adjusting well to life with two angels! Thinking of you and am looking forward to hearing how you are doing 🙂 xo

    1. Thank you! An update coming tomorrow 🙂 Life is good, God is good. We are all happy and healthy minus a few hormonal tears here and there — mainly happy, occasionally exhausted. Thanks for checking in.

      Glad to hear you like that Gap dress! It’s been sitting in my cart. Trying to wait until I’ve shed some of the pregnancy LBS to buy anything at this point because otherwise it’s just depressing. Ha.


    2. So happy to hear that you’re doing well! I like reading your posts in order and am currently several days behind, so I look forward to catching up & hearing how things are going.

      I think the Gap dress is pretty forgiving, owing to the smocked bust and full-ish skirt. Really like that it’s made with natural fibers! It can be surprisingly hard to find cotton & linen dresses at mass retailers these days. Lots of poly-blends out there! 🙂

  2. I loved this. You capture everything about how I remember turning 35 over 36 years ago!
    xx Inslee’s mom

  3. I love this, “The snuggly feeling of belonging and attachment and safety and all-is-right-with-the-world.”
    There is almost no better feeling than that, and they usually come during those golden moments. What a nice thing to reflect on this Friday morning.

    PS: maybe by now you’re holding Micro?? Either way, hope all is well and you both are happy and healthy.

    1. Absolutely the best feeling in the world. So lucky to experience it regularly these days!


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