Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes: On Second Chances in Motherhood.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: My Hill House Order.

Mainly excited about my Hill House order, which included this mini dress in the cutest sailboat print and this striped midi, but I also finally bought my son a play table for his room. He loves building and we bought him legos for his birthday, so I think this will get a ton of use! I thought the design of this table was clever, as you can change out the legs for a longer length as he grows.

This Week’s Bestsellers.

I am particularly obsessed with this week’s roundup of bestsellers. So many fashion-forward, interesting pieces. I’m smitten with this gorgeous, classic ivory dress and of course we’re all testing this hyped shave oil!

blog bestsellers


Weekend Musings: On Second Chances in Motherhood.

I wrote awhile ago about parenting as a “process,” about realizing that today is not the final version, or complete draft, of who you are as a mother. Those words sprang to mind earlier this week when I took my daughter to her opthalmologist. My daughter has amblyopia, a sight disorder in which the brain fails to process inputs from one eye and over time favors the other. It is treatable when caught early, as we did at her 18 month wellness visit, and has meant that she has had to wear an eye patch for several hours a day most of her life in order to strengthen the affected eye. Unfortunately, this week, we learned she will need to persist in her patching regimen for another another year or two or possibly three, which has been a difficult setback after six months of no patching. I know we will get through to the other side, where the patch is part of the routine, but the transition back in has been rough. Watching crocodile tears stream down her cheeks as she rolled out highly logical, observant reasons as to why she did not want to resume patching was nothing short of heartbreaking. I had nothing to lean on but “the doctor said we have to,” and so instead, I just sat stroking her back and permitting her to hold my phone screen inches from her face as a distraction as she adjusted to using one, weaker eye. But I digress. We will get through this; we have before. Onward.

What I really want to say is that when I took her to the opthalmologist earlier this week, they dilated her eyes, and this happening gave me occasion to right a wrong I have sat with for years. When mini was 18 months old, I took her to an eye specialist right after her pediatrician observed that she might have amblyopia. They were late to begin with, but then they dilated her eyes and we sat for what felt like hours in the waiting room waiting for it to kick in, then waiting for the exam, then waiting for a diagnosis and instructions, then checking out, etc. It was a slow operation there, and I kept looking at my watch, as I was backing into a meeting on the East Side. Realizing the timing was growing tight, I arranged to have our nanny come to meet us at the doctor so that I could jet off in a cab to my meeting just after. My daughter had been clingy in the office — but understandably. It’s never fun to be poked and prodded and told to wait and then re-enter, and if I haven’t made this clear, it was a long, long visit — probably close to two or two and a half hours when all was said and done. Finally, we made our way through checkout and I met our nanny holding my daughter in one hand and pushing the stroller in the other. When I went to hand her over, mini went hysterical. She was screaming my name, she was clawing for me, she was longboarding her body to avoid being buckled into her stroller. She would not be comforted. We shuffled around the lobby of this UWS medical building for at least ten minutes — I would soothe her and then try to distract during the handoff, or we’d invite her to wander around by herself to just sort of “air out” for a minute. Nothing seemed to work. Finally, my nanny said, “Jen, you just have to go.” I knew she was right: I was protracting things, and I was running really late, too.

I still remember the tears streaming down her cheeks, her palms reaching out for me. It was horrific, and I felt unglued. It wasn’t until halfway across the 67th Street Transverse that I realized she had been beside herself because her eyes had been dilated and the world was blurry and confusing to her and she was far too young to comprehend that this was temporary. I had been her guide, her center, and without my familiar presence, she’d lost it.

Of course, she was fine. My nanny sent pictures of her happily playing in the bath tub within about thirty minutes of the separation, and life went on. But I never forgave myself for abandoning her that morning on the Upper West Side, for not seeing how badly she needed me, for not being where I needed to be that day as a mother.

So when mini had to have her eyes dilated this past week, I saw a chance to re-do things, to submit a second draft. She was worried about how blurry the world looked, and I reassured her in every way I knew how. When we got home, I climbed into her bed with her and read her books for as long as she wanted, and she happily laid on her back, laughing at all the right parts and squinting at the page now and then. We then pulled out a big pad of Mad Libs — the perfect pastime for her, as I could read the “blanks” and she could shout out the answers, and then we could double over in laughter together. By lunchtime, her eyesight was back to normal, but I kept pulling her in for hugs and kisses and telling her how much I loved her the remainder of the day.

What a gift, to have the chance to try again.

So I’m writing again — more for myself than anyone else — that if today is a hard day, it is not the last chapter, the final installment, the apotheosis of my motherhood. I will get up tomorrow and try again.

P.S. More about my daughter’s vision journey here.

Shopping Break.

+How fabulous is this rainbow brite striped shirtdress from Buru? If you are a new mom, you should know about this brand, which is focused on highly functional clothing for motherhood. Many (most?) of their pieces are nursing friendly.

+This seashell necklace is SO fabulous. Pair with an LWD or an LBD and you’re done.

+A heads up that these wildly popular sandals were restocked in all sizes!

+Just picked up a bunch of items for mini on super sale at J. Crew — extra 50% off sale using code SHOPEARLY. I got her two pairs of these jammies and these, a few t-shirts (she’s been begging me for some of the “sparkly ones” that flip color, as most of her classmates have these, so I got her one of these!), and this swimsuit (not on sale, but so cute)!

+20% off Boll and Branch with code MAGPIE20! You know I adore their waffle bed blankets in particular. We use them year-round! They’re the perfect weight and add such a cozy texture contrast. Love!

+Speaking of swim for littles: Hunza G vibes for your little love.

+Just ordered this long picnic blanket for the summer ahead.

+CUTE $20 top! I love this tucked into high-waisted denim.

+Still not over this under-$100 green woven clutch. SO good. Looks much more expensive than the price tag suggests.

+Into these dramatic seashell earrings. I guess I’m into sealife-inspired jewelry these days!

+Another great J. Crew dress. Love the blockprint option!

+Cute floral romper.

+A gorgeous white eyelet statement.

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15 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes: On Second Chances in Motherhood.

  1. I needed this. What a touching realization on second chances. We received some disheartening news as we are trying to conceive our first child and this made me think how I need to put the people I love first. Push forward…. It will be okay and you can have a second chance… or third.

    1. Oh Elizabeth – my heart goes out to you. I completely empathize. Sending you love — and glad that these words reached you on the right day.


  2. Oh Jen! What a heart-wrenching situation to experience. It is so, SO hard to bear witness to the uncomfortable/painful medical procedures our children need to go through, especially at that age. I remember when my daughter was around 2 and we had to go for a blood test (which she has done annually to monitor her kidney condition). Typically we meet with a Child Life Specialist before the procedure so that she can be prepared, and also so that I as the parent can be coached through how to hold her safely. To be honest I feel like those meetings with Child Life are more for me, to calm my own nerves. It took lots of calls and coordination beforehand to ensure we will indeed have a Child Life Specialist before the procedure, but as it turned out that day, there was a miscommunication of some sort and they were swamped. In the larger scheme of things I know many, many children have more serious medical conditions and have far greater need for Child Life support. I did my best to stay as calm as I could so I could hold her body steady but the whole appointment took her by surprise. Thankfully the phlebotomist must be so used to screaming and crying children, and worked so efficiently regardless. I felt incredibly guilty for not preparing my daughter myself, but my thought at the time was — what IS the appropriate way to explain a blood draw to a 2 year old? Since then we’ve gone to appointments more prepared, and I’ve always considered those subsequent procedures my/our “re-do”.

    One other thing my therapist shared with me, that has provided me so much comfort on tough days: “You can start a new 24-hour cycle at any time.” Something about that mindset of not waiting for another “calendar day”, but rather going from one minute to the next, is so reassuring. We can have a re-do anytime, turn the day around at anytime.

    1. Oh my gosh – Mia, the “You can start a new 24-hour cycle at any time” comment major! What a breakthrough for me. Thank you for sharing this — I’d never thought in those terms, but this is truly so reassuring. Going to be leaning on this for a long time to come. How often does it happen (at least for me) that I’m having a “gruff/frustrated” day and am not being my best self and mentally say, “It’s OK, we’ll try again tomorrow” without realizing I still have time to turn the ship TODAY. Thank you for this.

      Solidarity and so much empathy for you on the blood draw for your girl. These situations are just so emotional and challenging as the parent. We live and learn — what else can we do? Sending you love.


  3. Isn’t a child’s capacity for forgiveness just awe-inspiring sometimes? My daughter is made of fire and challenges me in ways I never anticipated. She also humbles me; she never withholds forgiveness but rather pours it out so generously that sometimes it takes me breath away. She sees me for more than raising my voice, more than rushing to some other adult pursuit, and she is so free in how she moves on whereas I tend to dwell. I loved this essay from your perspective, but I also see it as a window to your girl, and perhaps all of our kids, who can so generously forgive us of any perceived misstep, let it go completely, and move on to the great joy of being together again.

    1. I love this, too — I completely agree! My daughter is so forgiving; I admire the way she can go from one thing to the next so quickly! Truly emotionally resilient!


    2. Elizabeth, I am so moved by what you wrote here. I too have a daughter (5 1/2 y.o.) who is “made of fire and challenges me in ways I never anticipated.” She feels things very intensely and is so strong-willed and will negotiate her way through anything. I have yelled on more than one occasion, and after apologizing/repairing with her, the way she says, “It’s ok, Mama” makes my heart melt.

  4. A beautiful essay that inexplicably brought tears to my eyes at the end. It is an eloquent reminder that we can all have second chances with the people we love, if we’re humble and brave enough to take them … to sacrifice self fully in the service of the other (even if at one point we could have made a pretty darn good case for why we acted the way we did). It’s true that the “chance for second chances” arises more frequently with children, ha ha, but it’s also a gift — the opportunity can keep arising long after our children are adults. Thank you for this beautiful reflection.

    1. Hi Michelle! I’m so glad this resonated with you. And you’re so right that we can find new opportunities for do over in all kinds of relationships, not just parent-child, if we are humble and mindful. Thanks for this nudge.


    2. Hi Michelle! The sentiment here: “It’s true that the “chance for second chances” arises more frequently with children, ha ha, but it’s also a gift — the opportunity can keep arising long after our children are adults” gives me such comfort! I have a 5 year old daughter and I often fast-forward my thoughts and wonder what our relationship will be like when she is a teenager or adult. My biggest hope is that whatever I am doing with her now is laying the foundation for that later stage.

  5. I loved this. I take comfort redos as a daughter, too. I am nearing a graduation and eager to have a chance to make it special for my mother, who I mostly ignored at high school and undergrad graduation as I was focused on friends, boyfriends, myself, etc. (groan.) I wrote a few weeks ago about a grad dress, and I actually decided to rewear my high school graduation dress (!) which is a lovely, simple white Lilly Pulitzer that my mother bought for me in NYC my senior year. I’m grateful a chance to wear that dress again as a little homage to my mom, who always made sure everything was special for me. I’m sure Emory will feel similarly <3

    1. This is so beautiful, Katherine, and I know exactly what you mean, on reflecting back on the times I was not the best daughter and finding ways to “make up” or “do over.” Thanks for the reminder.


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