Where I Need to Be.

By: Jen Shoop

Like most children enrolled in school, mine have battled through minor ailments and bugs several times these past few weeks, and each time, I’m scattered by their unwelcome onset. My plans for writing, fitness, and social engagements go haywire, which is challenging, as I am, generally, meticulously scheduled. I draw an enormous slash through my day’s objectives and shift into caregiver mode: COVID tests must be taken; doctor’s visits scheduled; childcare coordinated (or not); remedies procured from the grocery or pharmacy. And, of course, there are warm little foreheads and whiny voices to soothe. A few weeks ago, I had to take my daughter to a follow-up check-up for an infection and I found myself, frankly, frustrated — irritated! — by its imposition on my day. My daughter was feeling well, having completed her regimen of medication a few days prior (God bless antiobiotics when you need them), and I remember careening down River Road to pluck her out of school for the appointment, in sighing haste. I stopped at a red light and caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. A crabbed, flustered face stared back.

“Jen,” I told myself. “You’re doing what you need to do. You’re being where you need to be.”

A profound calm came over me. The day suddenly appeared limber, full of forgiveness. I’d been hurtling towards and through this appointment as if it were an intrusion, an inconvenience. But what was more important than being there for my child? Of following through for her? Sometimes “where I need to be” is at a doctor’s office in the middle of the day, or curled up on the couch watching cartoons with a feverish little girl, or pinned beneath the weight of a sleeping toddler because it’s the only place he can get comfortable.

I made quiet amends with myself. The words have echoed ever since, nearly any time I find myself gritting my teeth in angst or impatience, in matters of motherhood and beyond. Sometimes I even find myself howling against the tedious process of stretching before and after my runs, or chomping at the bit while waiting for a phone call to begin. Now, I remind myself (insofar as it is true!): “Jen, you’re doing what you need to do.”

When my son fell sick with a stomach bug last weekend, I spoonfed him noodles and perched on the edge of his bed watching Paw Patrol and rolled play-doh with him for what must have been three hours (but was probably thirty minutes — ha!). The entire time, the only thing going through my head was: “You’re where you need to be.”

Grateful for this new mantra, a surprisingly potent antidote to the sensations of frustration and chaos that can befall us when life does not seem to be going our way. I think it applies whether or not you have children, too — it could be that you’re in a job that feels like “a necessary evil,” a boring or loathsome role that will eventually get you where you need to be, or that you’re just setting out on a fitness journey and hating the early days. You’re where you need to be, friend. These are the days that must happen to you.



+On watching your child recover.

+Oh, the pinch of watching your children grow.

+My missa cantata.

+On medical anxiety.

Shopping Break.

+J. McLaughlin has some really pretty new arrivals — love the Makenna dress in the new pink color and of course this blue Liberty floral-esque shirtdress is absolutely up my alley. Both would be perfect for work, weekend, Church, brunches, parties! So versatile.

+A Magpie recommended these sunglasses for smaller (more petite) faces. They’re currently in my cart, as I ended up returning these St. Laurents I LOVED and wanted to keep so badly but ultimately decided were too big for my face.

+A great $16 tennis tank for my racquet ladies!

+A great way to stow knives in a drawer. Honestly, we have a big block for our Shun set and I almost wish we just kept them all hidden in drawers with these instead.

+Had to have these adorable napkins for spring! Cutest floral pattern.

+Pretty tweed cardigan.

+Another great Zara score.

+These inexpensive Gap tees are a great buy for little boys. I love the simple styling, and they always come out in great colors — how good is that seafoam green?! I buy in navy and white every season, plus whatever new colors are calling my name. They have a great, thick consistency and launder well. Hold up to little boys, in other words.

+Bought this “prayer bowl” for my godson, who will be making his first communion soon! If you’re looking for a sweet Christening gift, I’ve been giving these little Bible affirmation cards. A framed prayer card would also be precious.

+Love the longer length of this knit coatigan.

+I don’t yet know what I need 20 tiny plush bunnies for but some kind of Easter goodie is materializing in my mind…

+You better believe I’m buying pink shin guards and cleats for my daughter’s soccer season!

+Sweet baby gift.

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8 thoughts on “Where I Need to Be.

  1. Thank you for reminding me of the prayer cards! I need a baptism gift for twin boys and those are perfect. Always appreciate and love your gifting and seasonal suggestions to help a shopping procrastinator like myself!

  2. Ironically, I have fond memories of days when I was sick enough to stay home from elementary school! We never had TVs in our bedrooms, and we didn’t spend much time in our parents’ primary bedroom, either, so I loved when I was home with an ailment and my mom let me watch TV in my parents’ king bed. If I wasn’t violently ill, I’d occasionally get to accompany my mom on her errands. Sometimes I’d try to listen to her phone calls (lol) or get to sit near her daily tea time with my grandmother, too. All of the attention was on me until my brother came home, and my mom always made Pastina. It really was 5-star treatment. I am so grateful for my mother’s care and patience with me during those times, even though I’m sure she wanted to rip her hair out. I know your children will feel the same way one day if they don’t already!

    1. Gosh, I love these detailed memories — right down to the pastina! My mom is the same way — still. I am 38 and she has been texting me every other hour to see how I’m doing. She was always ready with a remedy / cool palm / warm hug / soothing voice when I was little and nothing has changed!


  3. So good, Jen, thank you. Lots of sick here these days as well, reframing their need for me as the higher calling on my time is such a good reminder. Also, edit note, the first time you say “You’re being where you need to be” the “need” is missing, I mentally added it in, no big deal, but maybe a quick fix is in order?

    1. Thank you so much for the catch! Just updated!

      Yes, exactly — reframing their need as “the higher calling.” It can be so hard when you’re in the go-go-go but this mantra has really helped me pull myself out!


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