Would You Believe…

By: Jen Shoop

Would you believe that after nearly three weeks without childcare and a very busy trip to D.C. during which Mr. Magpie and I averaged four or five hours of sleep per night and weathered a particularly turbulent period of the terrible twos that involved more than a handful of tears on my part on Mr. Magpie’s shoulder (“what am I doing wrong?!”) —

The minute I sent my nearly-three-year-old daughter to school this week, I missed her?

Missed her sing-song; her silliness; the cheshire cat grin that accompanies her saying the word “poop”; her laying on her belly in her bedroom playing with her Maileg mice for stretches of twenty or thirty minutes, reenacting conversations she and I have shared (“no, it’s bedtime now, we put on our jammies and it’s dark outside and we sleep”); the cornsilk of her hair; the uncoordinated writhing she classifies as “dancing”; the way she clings to me after she wakes from a bad dream, crying “mama, mama, mama!” into the dark; the fact that she still prefers a specific “Rocketship” sippy cup to her “big girl” cups and will demand it, adamantly, at mealtime; how she asks “what’s going on?”, all peering eyes and furrowed brows; her irritating but endearing habit of shutting the door to micro’s nursery when I am putting him to sleep (I prefer it open so I can keep my ear out for her; she prefers it closed “because he’s sleeping”); the somber seriousness with which she engages in conversations that intrigue her, eyes wide as saucers, fork poised above her plate as she is too distracted to engage in the pedantry of eating when learning about, say, why it snows in winter; the persistent “but why?” on the tip of her tongue; the way she told me, the other night, when I went into her room after hearing her insistent “mama? mama? mama?” just after I’d put her down to sleep: “I missed you.”

The piquancy of motherhood continues to startle me.

So I was ambushed that morning at 8:03 a.m., after gritting my teeth while chasing her bare buttocks around, wrangling her into clothes and a semi-presentably clean and brushed state, strapping her into her stroller, all the while accommodating imperious and mercurial demands that befit a sovereign or a two-year-old and no one else the world ever (“NOT THOSE SHOES, YOU IDIOT!!!!” and “HOW DARE YOU REMOVE MY MILK CUP WHEN THERE WAS .02 OUNCES OF FLUID LEFT?!?!?!?!? I AND I ALONE WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN I AM FINISHED!”), when I found myself staring at the door, the echo of her precocious voice disappearing down the elevator shaft.

I swallowed.

The house was…quiet. (And need I remind you that I still had a large dog, an active seven-month-old, and the blare of Disney music in my care?)

I’d anticipated — let me be truthful here — relief upon her departure but found instead an ache the size of a toddler in my heart. As I washed her rocket ship sippy cup and ate the remnants of her rye bread toast (peak motherhood), I was so overwhelmed by a surge of motherly devotion that I longed to run to the window to catch one last glimpse of her knit, pom-pommed hat over the edge of her stroller.

Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world.

Post Scripts.

+This is the sippy cup in question.

+I bought one of these memory foam bath mats for our master bathroom and OH MY GOD. It is a dream. A revelation! You must own one. It feels like stepping into a cloud after your shower.

+Just bought micro a pair of these. (Thanks Caitlin for the tip!)

+The incongruous emotions of motherhood.

+I have been looking for a kelly green kitchen rug for awhile. This is the best I’ve found, which I like but am still open to other options. Any thoughts? I have also had good luck with super inexpensive gingham cotton ones found on Amazon…maybe this is a better option. (Love that you can just toss it in the washing machine.)

+These overalls are so precious for a little gal!

+Time is a thief.

+The sweetest way to display heirloom-worthy baby clothing.

+Is it too early to buy micro’s Easter pajamas?

+Shopbop has an amazing end-of-season sale going on right now…this would be a fun dress to pull out for your next cocktail party; the perfect vacation dress; and one of the most popular dresses I’ve featured on le blog in the past few weeks.

+It has been so cold and dry in these parts! I am using a ton of this hand cream and this lip moisturizer. My cousin also suggested we pull out our humidifier as she’s had good luck with that. (We own this one.)

+My mom gave me one of these short robes for Christmas and I am OBSESSED. I love the short sleeves for getting-ready — it keeps sleeves out of the way and keeps me from overheating! Genius. And so soft! Also, I really appreciate the attached belt. A small thing but it truly makes the robe-wearing experience that much better.

+My favorite purchases of 2019.

+I have been lost in a throw pillow alternate universe / infinity loop while trying to update the ones in our living room and I will share what we ended up with in a future post, but one I LOVED but that did not work was this. (On sale, reminds me of Hermes!)

+The past few days, I have been responsible for picking mini up with micro in tow on my own, which is hard given that neither the origin nor destination subway stops have elevators and micro is pushing 22 pounds and barely fits into his carrier. (And did I mention I have a toddler? Who sometimes just does not want to get out of her stroller or who insists upon kissing her shoe on the subway? Etc.) All I can say is thank God for backpacks (<<this is the one I own) and hand sanitizer. And whoever invented bribery was a genius.

+Gifts for a new mom.

+These are the best pens.

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9 thoughts on “Would You Believe…

  1. Your writing is so rich with feeling — I love reading about your motherhood experience, and I agree with what Mia says; I can see myself in that scene as well (and I don’t even have a toddler!!) Thank you for sharing these details about what it’s really like to parent.

    I love the look of that PB memory foam bath mat — I have been looking for one in solid navy, and I think I mayyyy have found one at Target. If you have any recs, though, I’m all ears!

    Still want a MZW backpack, even though I do NOT need one. Next time I do, I’m considering their top-handle backpack with the luggage sleeve that fits over one’s suitcase handle … genius for me since I travel a bunch! xx

    1. MK! I will keep my eyes peeled for a solid navy one but honestly? I had a really hard time finding one I liked! I feel like there are a lot of hideous ones or ones that are way too thin — I want something with more heft to it than a dish towel. So, I’d go with Target if you like it!

      Clever idea on the MZ Wallace backpack! They are so thoughtful about how they design their pieces…

  2. Thank you for sharing, Jen! Such a lovely posts, all those little specific details read like poetry 🙂

    As the mother of an 11-week old
    I can relate. When I go somewhere by myself for the first time in weeks…and find myself, on the train, looking at baby photos 🙂 xo.

  3. To echo what Tracey wrote — yes, it is such a relief to hear other moms going through the same experience with very strong-willed toddlers. You describe it so vividly — I could almost see myself in that scene! As I was reading this post I kept chuckling and nodding in agreement. My daughter has an intense temperament — which we observed ever since she was a newborn. It is a humbling experience to parent her because she is so different from both my husband and me — “how did this little person come from both of us?” If she didn’t look so much like him as a baby, I’d have thought she was switched at birth with another baby! I constantly have to remind myself to become the parent SHE needs, all while letting go of this idea of a “dream child” I envisioned ever since before I got pregnant (I always wanted a daughter with a personality like my niece, and my daughter is not that!). I am accepting that both emotions co-exist — that I can mourn this “dream child” AND love my daughter so fiercely at the same time. I know her personality will serve her well later on, if we teach her to channel her intensity productively. But right now, it is emotionally trying and exhausting!

    And yet, minutes after a tantrum, she will come up to me to kiss me on the lips and say “I love you, Mama” and my heart melts, yet again, and I wonder how I got so lucky. I once read this about parenthood: “the lows can be devastating, and the highs are exquisite.” It sums up my experience so appropriately.

    And so we power through the roller-coaster of toddlerhood, with love… (I am officially stealing that phrase “power through with love” from another commenter on one of your past posts. Love it.)

    1. Hi Mia! Same page, per usual. This age is so exhausting and rewarding and difficult and sweet. It’s emotional whiplash! And I am physically drained at the end of the day! I just need a long sit, in silence…ha!

      I recently saw someone write that “if you need a reason to be patient with a toddler, it’s that they are often physically incapable of handling their emotions at this age.” (I’m probably bastardizing it, but that was the gist.) I really had to stop and think when I read that. It made me realize that my expectations for her are sometimes so wildly out of the realm of reality that they are physically impossible for her! Anyway, that put things in perspective.

      Another mom wrote in at some point last year or the year before that when she is particularly overwhelmed by her child, she will say: “Oh, you are acting like SUCH a two year old / three year old / eighteen month old right now!” It reminds her of their age and what they’re capable of and just kind of puts things into perspective.

      Also, my mom will often tell me: “It’s OK to go into the bathroom and turn on the shower for a minute to just collect yourself and drown out the noise if you need to.” I’ve done that, or variations on it, from time to time. I’ll just go around a corner, take a deep breath. Doesn’t work all the time but HEY.

      Anwyay, thanks for sharing your experience. And I totally tell myself the same thing from Cynthia — “POWER THROUGH WITH LOVE.”


  4. Really appreciate your honesty about motherhood. I, too, have a 2-year-old who is extremely strong-willed and can be so difficult to manage. Oh, the tantrums! I, too, cry to my husband that I must not be doing something right or maybe something is wrong with our son? It always helps to hear that other moms feel the same way. And yes, I miss him when he goes to sleep. The bedtime that I’ve been begging for all day 🙂

    1. Everything you wrote here tracks for me. Oh man! It is so amazing to compare notes with other moms. I felt especially depleted after the holidays — I felt I just could not get a handle on mini and her tantrums and I texted my sister-in-law who has similarly-aged children and she reassured me that THIS IS JUST HOW IT IS. Every mom goes through this, no matter what we see on the outside. Toddlers are tough! Anyway, thanks for writing in to corroborate 🙂 xxx

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