Fashion Trends

Weekend Vibes: Is It Just Harder for Me?

By: Jen Shoop

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Above: Central Park, in full fall regalia.

My Latest Snags.

My main shopping achievements this week was ordering this tweed Saloni (I’m tempted to bring it with me on an upcoming trip to wine country, but I know it’s not the vibe there…just want to wear it so badly!) and snagging of the Hill House tartan dresses — the Vivi, before it sold out, but returns do come through so I would check back if you’re passionate. (I also found their sold-out-in-minutes equestrian print in stock at Shopbop!) My runner up pick was going to be this Naomi dress. I always feel compelled to caveat my nap dress purchases because I know some Magpies are deeply fatigued of the style/hype. But I love tartans, and I am still drawn to the comfort and silhouettes of these dresses! Wear what you love, etc.

I also restocked my gift closet with a few new gifts for six/seven year olds, including this puffy sticker making set (love the Klutz brand! it’s been around since I was little!), this Lego chain reaction kit, and these Usborne sticker books, which my children still love. ICYMI: I did a very thorough/detailed post on my gift closet here last week, including my favorite gift wrap, my secret source for ribbon (if you’re in the DC area), go-to gifts, etc.

Finally: replenished my supply of my favorite pens. Like Christmas morning!

This Week’s Bestsellers.

Love (!) all the cozy, hygge picks from this week. Do I need these SLVRLAKE crops, too?!


Weekend Musing: Is It Harder for Me?

Earlier this week, I was texting my Internet friend Alex about being a part of a large family (she’s one of seven, her husband’s one of six, and they have four children together), and she said: “It’s like when people see me with my kids and they’re like ‘Oh gosh, I only have two and I think it’s hard,’ and I’m like YEP IT IS. No matter how many kids you have, it is all hard. Just in different ways.”

I thought first (and told her so!) how gracious she was to say that. When you have one or two children, and you’re in conversation with women who have multiples of that, you can occasionally feel as though you don’t have a leg to stand on in conversation. Or at least I have felt that way — as though I’m out-ranked, out-mothered, out-tenured, and certainly shouldn’t be the one talking about how challenging parenting can be. This has occasionally led me to ask, “Is it just harder for me? Does it come more naturally to other women?” And, in a certain sense, I think my reactions are fair. Those women have smoothed more foreheads than I have and have also experienced different challenges that I will never face. (They’ve also lived through more pregnancies and newborn phases than I have, and that is hard, no matter how you slice it.) I remember my mother saying that she felt going from two to three children was one of the most challenging transitions because “I could no longer hold each child’s hand at the same time.” I think of that sometimes when I’m walking down the street with my two. What would it be like to have a third, or fourth, or fifth trailing behind? What if all three need to hold my hand at once? What if we were in a crowd? I’m sure mothers with more children have devised their own solutions, coping mechanisms, strategies, perspectives on all of this. On that point, I have observed, too, that women with big families tend to be less flustered — maybe they’ve just seen it all and know it will all be fine, but I’m still laboring under the misapprehension that with enough effort, I can prevent my son from sprinting around Glen Echo refusing to wear shoes (this did happen) or can keep my children quiet in Church (rarely the case) or show up to a birthday party with everyone perfectly dressed and coiffed (nope). Or maybe they’ve resigned themselves more gracefully to the experience of living in the chaos of raising children? (With fewer kids, you can still sometimes believe you’re able to paper over the mess…?)

But coming back to Alex, I have to say that I felt reassured by her statement: “It’s all hard.” And, like, why was I even thinking in terms of comparison in the first place? Certainly it is important to think about how others are experiencing the world differently, and to exercise perspective on my own circumstances, but I can only live my own life, in my own lane, as openly and fully as possible. And I can tell you that having two children is emotionally, physically, and intellectually demanding.* Moreover, there are no economies in challenge — or in love for that matter. No matter how many children you have, you love them all. Equally, no matter how many children you have, it’s challenging. What I mean to say is: the math in this matter is binary rather than complex. It’s all love; it’s all hard.

*I know I do not need to caveat this in the company of Magpies, but just a flag to say I still know, even in the challenging moments, that all of it — every midnight wake-up, every diaper rash, every bathtime — is a wild privilege.


+My favorite clean mascara (and lots of other clean beauty favorites) is 20% off here, as is all Westman Atelier. I still love their foundation stick — I use it any time I am going out in the evening / need more coverage than my “quick, five minute makeup routine.”

+Also, my mom came by for lunch and was literally SPEAKING IN EXCLAMATION POINTS about Westman’s brow pencil. I also ordered this a few months ago but wasn’t as crazy about it as I was the Kosas Airbrow, which is sort of a swiss army knife for brows (fills, shades, gels). But now I’m intrigued by my mom’s rave review. You would have thought she was talking about finding a cashmere sweater on sale for $30 at Lord and Taylor (this is normally more in the vein of shopping excitement for her).

+I am pretty sure I will have ordered this chic dress for myself by the time you’re reading this — it’s currently 20% off when added to cart. I have been trying to find some dresses that are good for layering — beneath sweaters, jackets, etc — and love this one.

+Fun pop of red sweater at a good price.

+A fun family card game we’ve been into lately. Speaking of games, I frequently field the question: “What was that game you and Mr. Magpie like to play?” It’s Azul! THE BEST. We still play most weekend mornings.

+These chic cashmere knit sets from Kilte (and lots of other great knitwear) are currently on sale. I mentioned last week that a girlfriend showed up to dinner wearing the black one with Chanel flats and a silk scarf around her neck and looked beyond stunning. She messaged me this week to say she bought another color while on sale! And my favorite hot pink cardi is included (see me in it here).

+My favorite wool cape (see me in it here!) is still available in most colors/sizes after a recent restock, but my friends at Alice Walk just let me know that they will be increasing the price on November 1 to $495. If you have your eye on one…now is the time.

+Carolyn Bessett Kennedy territory for under $250. WOW.

+Love love love these ballet flats, and continue to think these Chloe sneaks are so FUN.

+Hanna Andersson is offering 40% off sitewide, including off their holiday jammies — they have lots of cute options, including many Hanukkah themed ones, which I know can be hard for my Jewish friends to find.

+OMG these sequinned ballet flats for our minis!

+Perfect under-$100 platforms for fall looks.

+Remember Spirographs? Just added to my “rainy day activity” bin.

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12 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes: Is It Just Harder for Me?

  1. I loved reading this and knowing I’m not alone in feeling that parenting should feel easier with only two. As the oldest of seven, I always thought I’d be very prepared for motherhood. When I finally had my first (in my mid-thirties), my confidence gave way to shock. Contrary to my smug assumptions, I was NOT prepared for how challenging it would be to mother just one small human. And my mom had seven!? When I asked her how, she said, “Well, I didn’t have ‘seven children.’ I had one. And a few years later, one more. And then one more…” implying that there were never seven in the infant and small child stage, which is all I know right now. Maybe it will get easier or just become a different kind of hard. Anyway – thanks for this post and the reminder to avoid comparison.

    1. Hi Kristin! Solidarity – you are not alone. As another Magpie put it — motherhood consumes ALL of what we have, no matter how many children we have to care for! And I love your mother’s generous way of reminding you “Well, I didn’t have seven infants all at once!” The baby years are so demanding!


  2. I have four and was talking to my friend with one about bedtime. She asked how we do it and I walked through the routine which lasts from about 645-815 and she laughed that bedtime at her house takes the same amount of time. I thought this was poignant–parenting consumes the WHOLE amount we have to give whether that’s time, energy, or heart and whether it’s one or ten children.

    1. This is such a beautiful way to put it — “parenting consumes the WHOLE amount we have to give.” Amen amen. That is so true and such a great way of thinking about motherhood when comparing oneself to those with many more children than we have, those who have fewer, those who have the same but seem to be getting by more easily, etc.


  3. No matter the number of children, life is hard. Some with one child may have a handicapped sibling they help care for every so often. We never know the extenuating circumstances that makes lives “hard”. Some are visible, most are not.

    I grew up with five siblings. (My mother actually wanted twelve). We all helped out when asked and grabbed a hand of another when in need. Large families actually tend to run smoother because of an internal support structure and parents are just too busy and each child learns independence quickly. Personally, I chose the smaller size family, two children, because I wanted the hugs, cuddles, love and caring aspect. Never looked back.

    I’m very interested in the Westman’s brow pencil your mother loved so much. I was just looking at this list:

    Random Thought: As you have such great taste, I feel you must have been influenced by your mother. Would you consider doing a joint post where she picks her top items in various categories and you pick yours? And since Mini is now picking her items too, maybe she could get a vote or two in there also. Just a thought for a blog at least I would be interested in seeing.

    1. Love these notes, and thank you so much for the reminder, especially of the invisible burdens that some parents are carrying. A reminder to give people extra space, and grace.

      Love this blog post idea…! Three generations of style! Will put some thought into this…


  4. “Why is it so hard for me?” has been a constant refrain my motherhood journey. I have one and I have succumbed to the idea that it IS me. I lack the patience. I had a challenging baby. I don’t know. But I watched with confusion as my friends went on to have second and third babies and I have wondered every time what I am doing wrong that I cannot even bear the idea of more children. I waffle constantly between guilt and being at peace with it.

    1. Oh Jenn!! I read this and just want to give you a huge hug. I received so many messages like this over DM, and I just have to say: the experience of difficulty in motherhood is not a reflection on your skill. I think, if anything, it shows how deeply you care, how invested you are, how much you are trying. I think you might also be moved (as I was) to know that SO MANY MOTHERS think this exact thing: “It seems so much easier for everyone else. What am I doing wrong?” I don’t have an answer for this, exactly, but just know you aren’t alone and that I think most mothers have felt this way at some point or another, if not frequently.

      Sending you love! You’re doing great.


      1. The book Soldier, Sailor by Claire Kilroy captures how intensely difficult being a mom is.
        I do think it’s harder for people who value order and control.
        But as a mom of four who thrives in chaos and noise, I do envy and feel less than the moms whose kids show up in the right color jersey for soccer and always have a water bottle. It’s just different ‘less thans’ which is the tragedy of it all.

        1. Hi Jessica! I am writing about your insightful observation in my Saturday post, but I was so struck by this comment! I am definitely the type of mom who values order and control, so this really made me think. It also made me so…sad? but also connected to all mothers…? to think that all of us – no matter how we are doing it – feel like we’re falling short in some way as mothers from time to time. Sigh! How do we get out of this!!


        2. This is so astute! I notice this based on seasons of my life. As the oldest of nine kids, I also typically thrive in noise and chaos. With my own three children – one of whom declared to the entire dance room of spectating parents last week that she never has a water bottle so it’s good there’s a water fountain at dance! – I’m usually able to not feel buried by it all. I just don’t force myself to do it all.

          But! I also look on with admiration at friends whose kids have perfect matching outfits for the 4th of July or make the cute cookies for a neighborhood block party, etc. And even as a mom of 3, I’ve had to sheepishly ask other (more organized/prepared) moms to borrow a diaper. Or accepted a teething cracker across an airplane aisle.

          I can pay it forward by not feeling nearly as fatigued by a chaotic play date – come one, come all! Or bringing home an extra kid from an activity so another mom can keep to her bedtime schedule.

          Which is all to say, the village cliche is probably true. And that village seems to work best when we lean into our natural strengths and skills whichever way that may be. And, to answer your question, Jen, I think we get out of it by extending gratitude and appreciation for all moms in all the ways they show up (and hopefully extend that same gratitude to ourselves).

          (And truly – THANK YOU to those organized moms who have a spare band-aid for my kids in their purse!!!!)

          1. Lauren – I absolutely adore this concept of “paying it forward” / giving in the places you can give best. It’s really one of the most beautiful, specific modelings of community that I’ve come across in a long time. Give freely of your strengths, and lean on others in areas you’re less practiced in. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing — this sent the best shiver of hope and connection right through me, and has been on my heart since.

            Thank you!


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