I am now Mr. Magpie’s part-time barber. He buzzed his head on January 1st — new year, new look — and his new (and handsome) ‘do requires biweekly maintenance. As he sat on a stool in the shower while I ran the electric clippers over his head, I felt an unexpected surge of fierce possessiveness. We have been married for a long time and yet still there are privacies between us. I will not trim my nails or tweeze my brows in front of him. He is blessedly demure about phlegm and other sounds and emissions of the common garden male variety. And so there are still moments where I feel as though I am opening a door to a new level of intimacy, in all of its savage abandon. On this particular occasion, as I shaved his head for him, I felt a primal sense of marital ownership: he is mine, and I will preen him and tend to him until the ends of the earth.
Do you feel this way too, Magpies, when you are engaged in the tenderest and most personal acts of care for a loved one?
I have perhaps been thinking a lot about this as I prepare for childbirth and anticipate the many indignities that come with it. Well — indignities is a loaded and unfair word, as childbirth is natural and we should not feel shamed for its collateral, but let me speak honestly and say that I could do without my husband or mother having to pick up a pad the size of Texas off the bathroom floor for me, as happened while I was recovering from my first c-section. And I have further been marinating on this theme as our home succumbed to a bad cold and I have been applying Vicks and replenishing humidifiers and doling out medicine around the clock for both mini and Mr. Add to this the fact that I have been attempting to potty train mini while tending to the minor health condition of a loved one that has required humbling hands-on care and also preparing for the arrival of a helpless, care-hungry newborn and — yes. I have been thinking a lot about the emotional terrain of caring for another.
In these moments, I feel overwhelmed with love and connected-ness, even when they are not particularly glamorous or pleasant. I am moved by the opportunity to wordlessly demonstrate the depth of my affection, often steeling myself from emotion and adopting a kind of shrugging “of course I’ll do this” posture — something I learned from my mother, who will replace a bloodied bandaid or rub an aching foot without so much as batting an eye. A girlfriend of mine called this “mom strength” a long time ago, when we were traveling through France by train together, and we agonized over the bizarre and moving proximity of a small and unkempt cemetery next to a burnt-out looking train station on our way to Annecy. I was haunted by the image; I must have brought it up half a dozen times that afternoon. Something about the modest bouquet of wilted daisies on a grave not far from the rough and surly industry of the train station left me weepy. At some point, she commented: “Some days I can’t wait until the days of mom strength, when you can look at that kind of thing and not be bothered by it.” I knew what she meant — my mom is loving and warm but also tough as nails. I think back to when I had surgery at the age of seven and I never saw anything but an encouraging smile on her face, even though she must have been horrified. She has seen things, endured grief and agony and pain at the hands of her five children and her six siblings and her two parents and her countless loved ones and come through to the other side with a kind of all-knowing endurance.
I have not achieved true mom strength yet, but I find myself increasingly capable of attending to minor and major caregiving opportunities without my emotions getting in the way, calmly welcoming new intimacies in all of their savage abandon.
*This phrase — “intimacy, in all its savage abandon” — was lifted wholesale from the beautiful film Colette; more musings on this worthwhile movie here.
Post Scripts: Fruit Prints, Sale Scores, + Cosmetics.
+I got eyelash extensions in December for the holidays. God do I love them but they absolutely destroy my natural lashes. I don’t trust anyone who says otherwise — or maybe I just have weak lashes? But I can only do them like once a year. I have been a long-time devotee of DiorShow, but I’m testing IT Cosmetics’ Superhero volumizing mascara after a girlfriend raved about it. And I have to say, her lashes looked incredible. Stay tuned!
+I’m starting to fret about what to do for mini’s second birthday in March. Our apartment is simply too small to host a bunch of rambunctious toddlers, and I had no idea how expensive and involved it is to rent out a play space for the occasion! It seems tedious to me to have to schlep decor and treats and gifts to a new spot when you only have two hours for the whole thing to begin with. I’m completely at a loss as to what to do. That said — check out the adorable party gear here. I’m loving this strawberry motif and this lemon one! Maybe I could do a little fruit-themed situation — mini’s favorite snack. (At a recent playdate, my friend was shocked when mini dominated an entire cereal bowl (<<she has this Juliska pattern and I envy it something fierce every time I see it) full of strawberries and grapes instead of the neighboring one of cheez-its. I don’t mean to sound virtuous here; the girl just loves anything sweet! She’ll just as readily finish an entire bowl of bunny grahams.)
+These python mules from my favorite footwear designer are A STEAL RIGHT NOW.
+Cool decor for a boy’s room or a rec room. They’d look incredible mounted on a wall!
+These boots are so cute for a toddler — love the bows. Mini has worn Donsje animal booties for the last two years, and they are so well-constructed and snuggly, but she’s now in the very biggest size for toddler feet and can barely fit into them. I’ll need another snuggly option for next winter season; I have to say those bow bedecked Uggs are probably it!
+I’m also tempted to buy her this sherpa sweatshirt (a few sizes up from current size) for winters to come as it’s marked WAY down right now.
+Mini has gotten a lot of use out of this Patagonia fleece this winter. The brand is worth the expense, IMHO, because it washes very well, is extremely warm, and holds up. Definitely worth hanging on to / passing down to future siblings and cousins. My eyes are peeled for impending winter sales; I want to stock up on Patagonia fleeces in sizes up and down for both mini and micro!
+With the current promo, this sweet fair-isle sweater (love the palette) is like $35! Also loving this puff-sleeved sweater, now 40% off, especially paired with those Agolde jeans I’ve been dying over! Such a cool texture.
+These mules are SO FUN. And also heavily discounted!
+These would be such a great piece for me right now — I could get one with Mr. Magpie’s initial, one with mini’s initial, and one with micro’s initial. ($198 for set of 3!)
+My mom has a set of vintage copper jars like these that she uses to stow flour, sugars, etc. LOVE. So pretty on the countertop!