By: Jen Shoop

A week ago, I fished my backpack out of my closet. It’s seen much less use since living Manhattan, where going anywhere with two young children required two free hands. Here, in Bethesda, the margins are wider: spaces tend to be less crowded, street-crossing is less common, and there just seems to be less confronting us as immediate peril. When I unzipped it, I found a stash of diapers, and micro is now toilet-trained; socks he’s since outgrown; and a half-eaten packet of pretzels, used no doubt as a distraction while in some restaurant or on some stroller ride. I held the diapers in my hand in disbelief, as though confronting the remains at Pompeii. The last time I packed that bag, I had no idea it would be the final time I’d pack it with a diaper. Any parent who has survived toilet training knows that moving to life without diapers is difficult and immensely rewarding and so why would I give half of a sentimental thought to the before stage? I don’t know, but I felt something catch in my throat. I write about this, and write about this, and write about this, and still I circle the drain: how can time steal from me in this way? I feel sometimes as though he is slipping through my fingers. He is not, I know: he is here, everyday, chirping and tumbling and wailing and exclaiming. I hold him and read to him and scold him and know his every last preference. Lately, he has eschewed the lullabies I have sung him since he was an infant, “Edelweiss” from Sound of Music and “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” instead telling me: “No no no no — Woody song,” by which he means “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” which is a surprisingly difficult tune to carry. But I do it, and every now and then, I have to compose myself mid-refrain: “But none of them will ever love you // The way I do // It’s me and you, boy.” I know even now this song will one day be a vestige of his youth, just like the diapers in the backpack and the half-eaten packet of pretzels (at one time, his preferred snack). It is jarring, though, how quickly these relics disappear beneath the rush of the everyday. You might be puttering around unassumingly one Tuesday night, packing backpacks and lunchboxes, and then you unzip a pouch and find the now-forgotten selection of rocks your daughter insisted on carrying around for months on end, and you find yourself knee-deep in an emotional archaeology.

I have no answers for this. There are no salves, no remittances. I think one of the tremendous burdens of motherhood is letting go of the firsts and lasts, but still, onward we go —


+More on firsts and lasts.

+The mercury of play as a child.


+A strange case of mom guilt — interesting comments on this one.


Shopping Break.

+The internet is going crazy over this Hunza-G inspired one-piece (under $50 — the O.G. is $205). I mentioned this recently, but my sister raves about Hunza G. She wore it while pregnant and will wear post partem too!

+I have this sage green button-front pullover in a soft terry material I bought from Old Navy like five years ago that I am obsessed with. I wear it constantly. I wish they’d bring it back because it’s my favorite lightweight layering piece for pairing with Aligns, jeans, etc when I am running errands and the like. Anyway, I found this popover that is VERY similar and am inclined to buy it as a back-up/alternative to this piece because I wear it SO MUCH. Specifically in the sage green for some reason. Looks great with light-wash denim, white, and any manner of spandex colors.

+Speaking of Lulu, I love this new running windbreaker and the new colors of their running shorts!

+People LOVE these Lulu-inspired leggings, BTW. Have not yet tried!

+This dress could not be any more “me” if it tried.

+Pearls and rattan — yes and yes.

+LOVE these boldly colored lacquered trays.

+FULLY in love with these planters. OMG. Beyond.

+OOO this striped dress, YES.

+These monogrammed, patterned mini stools are beyond adorable for a nursery, where there are always a million and ten needs for a stool — little ones turning off the lights, reaching books, looking out the window, etc! More finds for children’s rooms here.

+Saw this dress and immediately imagined wearing it on the FOJ.

+Glitter jellies! OMG – who else had these?! More adorable footwear for littles here.

+Love a tunic top and this one comes in the best misty shade of blue.

+Pretty decorative woven bowl.

+Just head over heels for these gingham mules.

+Chic dress — would wear to a backyard BBQ.

+Excuse me but this $28 sweater gives me major La Ligne vibes…love both colors!

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6 thoughts on “Vestiges.

  1. My second baby is 9 weeks old and I am finding the passage of time so much more poignant this time around. Did her sleepy newborn phase even happen!? Maybe it seems like it went faster because I was busier with my other child? Or maybe because I had done it once before, it didn’t have the same shock factor as my first and seemed to just roll over me? Either way, time is absolutely barreling forward. I told my mom my two year old doesn’t have a baby face anymore. She disagreed but ah!

    1. I SO relate to this — I find myself agonizing over my son’s growing up with particular despair, perhaps because I feel that it’s “the last time I’ll ever see this”? I no longer have a tinier one coming up behind to remind me of all those sweet phases and transitions. I also can hardly remember my son’s crawling phase — I feel like he went from immobile to walking in two seconds flat. Ah, time!


  2. I love this line: “It is jarring, though, how quickly these relics disappear beneath the rush of the everyday.” It gave me a lot to think about this morning on my way to work. I’ve noticed this feeling before in my life, perhaps most fully after my beloved grandmother passed away when I was in college. I can clearly remember sitting in the den at her house after she had passed, looking out the front window, and thinking of all the time I spent there growing up – playing in the treehouse, drawing with chalk on the driveway, roller skating in the street, looking through her photo albums. And like you write, the last time I did those things, I didn’t realize it would be the final time.

    It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling, simultaneously grateful for being able to spend so much time with her growing up while also missing her dearly now, but then again, so much of life is bittersweet. And yet, onward we go –

    1. Oh Sarah – I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s clear from the way you wrote about this that she is still very much present in your life and memory. I know exactly the sentiment you’re talking about — gratitude, wistfulness for having had those deep, lived-in, beautiful moments with people you love but also a sense of profound loss. Thank you for writing in.


  3. My son will be 7 in a little over a week. My daughter is 16 months younger than him – there were countless days in the few first years after she was born that I counted down the minutes in each day. They were filled with so many hard moments. Now he’s on the cusp of 7 (7!!!) and I cannot believe how time has passed by. I try to treasure every hand held, every time he asked me to hold him (even though he’s rapidly approaching my height!), and long to shield him from all of life’s hard moments like I was able to mere years ago. But you’re right, onward!

    1. Oof, I related to this note so much, Erica. I especially think back on peak pandemic days in Manhattan when my husband and I were literally counting the minutes until bedtime. It was so hard. Even as I was doing it, I was regretting it, but the bald fact is: the early days, when children are very young and so wildly dependent, are extraordinarily challenging on so many levels, and sometimes it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other until you have a minute to breathe. I have worked hard not to feel ashamed of that. Ah, motherhood is such a mixed bag of intense emotions — such emotional whiplash on a daily basis, even minute to minute! You can go from near weeping over something sweet to thinking you might crazy if you have to clean up one more accident. Yes, onward, always —


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