A few weeks ago, we hosted an old family friend at our home. Amidst playful jabs and walks down memory lane, he asked after Mr. Magpie’s family, and Mr. Magpie — who typically tends toward the taciturn on family matters — shared that his aunt had been unwell for some time and that his mother had been tending to her with the kind of selflessness only possible in a saint or a sister. Our friend was rummaging through his pockets as his listened. I sat on tenter-hooks. It was so unlike Mr. Magpie to open up like this, and I worried his candor would be permanently shunted in the shadow of this apparent indifference. But our friend retrieved a small pad of paper and a pen.
“What’s her name?” he asked. Mr. Magpie blinked. “I’ve made it a habit of praying for people by name.”
I think often of the fact that the nuns of the Visitation have prayed for me since my birth. Not necessarily by name, but as a future, then current, then former student of their school. I think also of the intercessions read out in Churches across the globe every single day at Mass. Often, without our ever knowing it, we are included in those supplications, as congregations routinely pray in aggregate for those in any kind of need, whether those in grief, those struggling with addiction or mental illness, those caring for loved ones, those alone or forsaken, those in a rough spot of any kind.
Neither of us could answer our friend for a beat. We were overwhelmed by the gesture, by the goodness. I feel the same way when I realize that there are absolute strangers praying for my well-being on any given Sunday. I was thinking of this the other day as I talked to my sister, who is navigating (beautifully!) the first few weeks of motherhood. I was remembering how, sometimes out of nowhere, amidst a day of postpartum exhaustion and nerves and emotion, a wave of calm would wash over me. I would be looking at mini, then micro, and I would think: “This is all I need. I want for nothing. Sleep will come. I am OK. I am OK!” At the time, I attributed these swells of tranquility to motherhood in the sense that I thought to myself, “Ah, here is that motherly instinct kicking in. I’m in a good place, doing what is natural. All the noise and nerves are quiet. Mother and child, as it should be, as it has been since the dawn of time.” I distinctly remember those thoughts because I took the picture above while experiencing them exactly seven days after my son was born so that I would never forget. The other day, as I spoke with my sister, I was hoping that she would experience those same pockets of peace looking at her own baby, because it is a lot being a new mom. It feels like being asked to perform a complicated athletic feat while injured and simultaneously calculating complex math equations with numbers that constantly change — and all the while, your entire emotional world is upside-down. But it occurred to me then that maybe those lifts I experienced during those bleary and beautiful early days of parenthood were prayer. A shopkeeper in Barcelona, a farmer in Cajamarca, or a businesswoman in Nyanza might have prayed “for new moms everywhere” at that moment, and across the globe, I pocketed that energy.
Every morning, my mother, sister, and I participate in a digital prayer group. If you have a loved one who is a new or expecting mom, know I’ll be thinking of her during our virtual daily prayer this week. If you’re so inclined, email me or leave a comment with her name — I was so moved by my friend’s insistence on this matter that I am compelled to do the same.
+Practical advice on preparing for a second child.
+9 things that surprised me about having a c-section.
+Our carseat was just restocked in the popular gray color. These can be strangely hard to find/on back-order. The main thing I will tell you: you can throw the entire carseat cushion into the washing machine. I was sold when I discovered that. (Mini is prone to carsickness.). I also love the sleek styling. We got ours in solid black (one for each child) and it looks fantastic with the black interior of our SUV.
+If you need to do 3 carseats across — well, first, God bless you — but second, people rave about these Cleks. Narrow enough to fit three across and I think I might prefer the styling to the Nuna. So chic! (However, in my case, function trumped fashion — I just needed something washable.)
+For travel or if you need an extra car seat for grandparents/caregiver use on occasion, these inexpensive travel carseats are AMAZING. They get really good reviews for safety but are extremely lightweight and therefore easy to carry through an airport. We have two.
+These adorable and reasonably-priced earrings are back in stock. The pink are SO good.
+More great velvet hairbows for you or your little one in the best fall colors.
+Still obsessed with this wreath.
+I am seriously contemplating a silk slip skirt ATM to pair with cashmere crewnecks. I have heard good things about the ones from Vince, but I love the colors from L’Agence (some of which are on sale — that gold color would be so, so chic for holidays) and the pricepoint at Madewell.
+I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of feather clutches out there this holiday season. This one is reasonably priced! So chic with one of the silk slip skirts above and a cashmere sweater for a night out.
+My son recently wore a plaid fair isle vest (from Ralph Lauren, no longer available) and it was absolutely adorable. This one is super similar. I layered it over this RL oxford in white and paired with these green cords and his beloved yellow rain boots.
+More of his exact fall wardrobe here, but I neglected to mention I am about to buy him some boots for winter, and I think I am going with classic Sperry Saltwaters in navy/brown. These look adorable paired with any outfit, in any fall/winter weather (not just snow/rain), including the everyday overalls looks I shared here.
+I’m thinking this ribbed tube scarf is amazing, especially for my Chicago/Boston Magpies. Layer underneath your puffer. Chic and functional, too!
+Personalized roadie cups. Fun for a big birthday celebration/weekend getaway/etc.
+This plaid dress is nearly out of stock but SO adorable for a fall festivity.
+Just a reminder that this dress exists. (!!!!). My top rec for a winter wedding.
+This maxi skirt sold out in like one day last time it was released. Absolutely gorgeous with a white blouse, denim button-down, sweater, etc. I am so into the maxi skirt at the moment!
+This boat tote with plaid lettering is ADORABLE. I’m thinking through my gift list — would be a good gift for a family with small children, or a newlywed, or as a dramatic “wrap” for some holiday treats (i.e., fill with wine, tin of popcorn, etc.)
+I know I’ve mentioned this dress before, but I keep coming back to it. I need it. It is so saucy and chic.
+Cute Christmas-themed Peter Pan collar top for a little man.
+Sweet shawl-collared sweater for a baby boy (on sale!)
+Fun smocked and embroidered dress.