Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 176: “A Woman Has a Center, Is a Center.”

By: Jen Shoop

*Image above from Emilia Wickstead, part of her “This Woman’s Work” series, in which she features eight brilliant female entrepreneurs wearing her Matches Fashion holiday capsule collection. Emilia writes: “Like many of us, I have spent three months of this year at home, trying to keep a business and home-life alive. This collection, designed for the summer holiday season ahead of us, I felt, needed to capture this particular moment in time. These are the women of our time and this is their remarkable work.”

Also, I own this dress of hers in this exact print and it is on sale for 70% off.

My Latest Snag: Mini’s First Day of School Outfit.

We are currently planning to send mini back to school in-person in a few weeks, though I am still mentally preparing for every possible eventuality. Regardless of whether she’ll be sitting behind a screen or walking into the school building, she’ll be wearing this dress on her first day. (Sadly, several of the options I’d rounded up here have since sold out in her size!!! I should have acted faster!*) It is absolutely perfect. I’ll probably pair it with navy Elephantito Mary Janes (note that they are on sale in the prettiest periwinkle shade here) and a big navy bow (on sale currently). I have also been starting to plan out what she needs for her fall wardrobe (will share more later), and went ahead and ordered her these Vejas in the navy and red!

*I also wish I had acted faster on this dress — beyond adorable and now sold out in mini’s size!

You’re Sooooo Popular: The Ric Rac Trim Dress.

The most popular items on the blog this past week:

+This gorgeous ric rac trim dress. (Look for less with this.)

+Dainty stacking rings.

+Fantastic lip scrub — I swear by this.

+This ruffle sleeved eyelet maxi.

+Chic tennis skirt. (More tennis gear/tennis-inspired scores here.)

+Dreamiest tote bag.

+Alighieri coin necklace.

+Chic under-$35 dress (I own in the blue and white pattern, which reminds me of Delft china).

+Stark white euro shams for the ultimate hotel-at-home experience.

+My favorite under-$10 eyeliner.

+The best smelling counter spray I’ve ever encountered. (Hehe.)

Weekend Musings: A Woman Has a Center, Is a Center.

I stumbled upon this quote by Ursula K. LeGuin (an author with a considerable cult following — any LeGuin lovers out there?) earlier this week and carried it around with me all afternoon:

“A woman has a center, is a center. But a man isn’t, he’s a reaching out.” – Ursula LeGuin

I don’t care for the gendered reductiveness of the quote, but something about the concept of absorbing and centering, in conjunction with a Magpie comment earlier this week about the difference between activities that involve “taking in” versus “letting out,” struck a chord.

Do you feel as though you are constantly taking things in and on? Carrying things, absorbing things, piling them on your back, pressing them to your chest, lingering over them in the still of the night? Does it ever feel like the life you have created is only in orbit so long as you are able to keep things moving? Put differently: when was the last time you let something go?

After four months without childcare and without close-enough family to help with the children, we started with a lovely new nanny earlier this week.* We were anxious about the decision, but we also felt as though we had been treading water for four consecutive months: we were exhausted, and breathless, and barely making ends meet with our respective jobs. After the first day with her on board, after the children were tucked into their beds, I sat down at our dining room table and cried. I felt profound relief.

It has seemed, this week, as though I have been on a spacewalk: things feel lighter and looser. I am able to actually work for a string of consecutive hours, to conceive of a full and interrupted thought and to chase it to its very end, to avoid the heartburn-like guilt I experienced any time I was working behind a closed door while Mr. Magpie looked after the children. At the same time, I have felt a creeping sense of embarrassment and the compulsion to asterisk our decision by adding that we sustained four months of working full-time and caring for children full-time when I have shared information of our new caregiver with other friends. I know that not everyone has this option and that some do not feel it is safe, and there is also the bizarre sensation that I in some way “gave up” on something by employing help.

But mainly, I have been awash with relief and gratitude. I thank God for this wonderful woman we now have in our lives. It feels as though the center of our family has expanded, and it’s suddenly a lot less constricting here at the very heart.

*I want to quickly caveat this and say that what felt right for us may not feel right for you — and that is OK. The same goes for whatever you decide with regards to sending your children to school this fall: many of us are going to land in different places because we have different inputs, constraints, careers, health issues, financial situations. It is OK, in the words of Amy Poehler, to say “good for you, not for me.”


+Love Sezane’s latest collection — I need this blouse and I will 100% be buying this cardigan for fall.

+More skincare to test: have heard good things about the serums from Klur. I still think I will try HyperSkin’s Clear serum first, but Klur is on my radar now, too!

+Gap just released the coolest dress — it’s sort of a hybrid between my beloved blockprint caftans and my beloved nap dresses! YES.

+Cutest little seersucker dress on sale. I love this style (mini has owned this in multiple sizes) because it’s a cute short length that hits around the knee. The proportions feel sort of retro to me in a good way.

+Smitten with this dress, both in the solid blue and the stripe. Smocking and puffed sleeves and a midi length? Yes pls.

+Cute pearl-handled bucket bag for only $40.

+Darling personalized duffel for a little boy at a great price.

+Intrigued by these dining chair booster pads for little ones after Caitlin posted about them.

+Amazing tortoise shades.

+Just the sweetest dress for a little one.

+Pretty, fluffy scallop trim towels (on sale in select sizes).

+LOVE and adore.

+This beautiful heirloom-quality piece for a little girl is 40% off. Stunning.

+The most popular items on my blog last month.

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16 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 176: “A Woman Has a Center, Is a Center.”

  1. I feel all of these emotions and thoughts about childcare acutely. I just sent my daughter back to day care TODAY, though I don’t officially go back to work until late August. I rationalize the decision in my head: we need time to acclimate; I have the flexibility to “ease” back into the daycare routine; I must prepare protocols, procedures, and curricula for what is sure to be a VERY different fall semester; and COVID numbers here are and have been very low here in Portland, Maine.

    But, UGH. She has been my sidekick for almost 5 months! She is my little velcro toddler, and my side feels empty without her hanging onto it. Even though I have wanted her to return to daycare so badly, and our days were monotonous and exhausting and cacophonous, I am mourning the end of our unimpeded time together.

    I have never felt more in knots about a parenting decision. So, to echo Amy, I am telling myself right now, “Great job! I know that was a difficult decision.” Same goes to all parents and guardians everywhere.

    1. Oh, Annie!!! I wish I could give you a hug – I can sense the anguish in your writing here. All I can say is that I am right there with you. I have felt the same swing of emotions when listening to my children play in the nursery next door with their new caregiver — a sense of guilt and mourning and protectiveness and at the same time, relief and a kind of hangover exhaustion from the past few months.

      At any rate, it’s helpful for me to acknowledge all the things I’m feeling and then check in with myself to make sure it still feels, on balance, like I made the right decision. So far it does…


  2. I really like LeGuin’s translation and commentary on the Tao Te Ching. Haven’t read anything else by her but her thoughts in that book are wise and kind enough to make me want to read more of her 🙂

    1. “Wise and kind” — that is the reputation I have in mind for her based on reviews and comments by Magpies. Thanks for the nudge — I need to read something by her!


  3. The gap dress sounds like a winner! Looks like it’s sold out. I’m so curious to see what it looks like. Do you have a style number? I googled block print and the one I found was long sleeve.

    1. Shoot! The name was “Dreamwell Sleeveless Flounce Dress” and you can still find it if you search for it on the Gap website. Maybe that means they will be restocking soon? I’m sorry! It’s sleeveless, midi-length, and has a cute blue and white blockprint.


  4. Echoing Amy’s wise words here — “Great job, I know that was a difficult decision.” So brilliant! Every parent needs to do what’s best for their family; it boggles the mind that there are some people that don’t understand this, or feel the need to judge first. Anyway — I think you’re doing a wonderful job and I’m sure it is a giant relief to get back some of the weekdays for yourself! Cherish that time!

    Those mini Vejas are possibly the cutest sneaks I’ve seen for kids! Also loving mini’s back-to-school dress — precious!


    1. Yes, the Vejas!!! Can’t wait for her to wear them!!

      Thanks for the encouragement for me and all the parents making tough decisions about childcare and school right now.


  5. I love Ursula Le Guin; her novels are amazing. I highly, highly recommend “The Dispossessed” if you’re interested in reading one of her works. It’s a fascinating exploration of socialism, communism and capitalism.

  6. Loved what Any said…
    We hired a nanny to help us too and all I can say is it was the BEST decision we made! She was wonderful with the kids and become like a second mother to them and me! Loved her like a mother too. She has passed but I think of her often and miss her terribly!

  7. We placed our daughter in a childcare arrangement back in June after nearly three months of 17-hour days maintaining two jobs and a toddler. The luxury and thrill of being able to focus on my (paid) work for long stretches of time has not yet worn off. There are no easy decisions, and everyone is facing a different matrix of challenges, but I wish you the same continued sense of relief.

  8. Although I am hoping it’s unnecessary, I am bracing myself for the judgement I will receive for my decisions regarding school/childcare this fall. There are no “perfect“ or “right” solutions when navigating these unique times, but we still have to pick one. I keep reposting this meme on social media that goes something like this: To the mom who homeschools her children, “Great job, I know that was a difficult decision.” To the mom who sends her children back to school, “Great job, I know that was a difficult decision.” And so on. So to you I say, “Great job, I know that was a difficult decision.” Xx

    1. I know, Amy – I am also bracing myself. I can even see it in how I wrote this post! I have been talking about this exact subject with every parent in my life and I always emphatically say “I totally respect whatever you are doing” first. So far, it seems like everyone agrees that there will be no one-size-fits-all answer. xx

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