Making Lists, A Mother’s Heart & Painted Nails

Last night we had our first hard rain of the season. I sat in bed listening to the water bounce off the plastic lamina we have covering our patio, thinking I need to soak up these moments. Quiet, uninterrupted, restful, early-to bed moments. Days feel longer and if I don’t take a nap then crawling into bed is early is about my favorite thing these days. Usually I make lists. I have lists for everything:

lists of things we need to get: hydrogen peroxide, a little bedside lamp, olive oil for her, super absorbent maxi pads for me

lists of things to put together before she comes: set-up co-sleeper, paint dresser, assemble Rocker Glider

list of work stuff to get done before I go on maternity leave: schedule for summer teams, flight itinerary, make final exams for students, email all site leaders,

and then of course lists of all the really practical projects I want to finish before a baby enters the picture: print wedding pictures, make photo books, organize all our receipts from 2013, get folders for medical info, visa & passport papers, etc

But last night I didn’t make any lists. I just sat, propped up with 4 pillows and listened to the rain. I watched my stomach jiggle up and down as this little one likes to stretch out in all directions at night. I talk to our little girl and tell her how excited we are to meet her. How I’d like her to stay in there for a few more weeks, even is she feels cramped and I tell her how loved she is.

These past few weeks I have been overwhelmed with people’s generosity and love. Friends near and far have sent gifts for me and the baby, other moms have offered perspective, advice and support and one friend who has little girl a few months older than our girl sent us a huge box of her out-grown newborn clothes. (I love, love hand-me-downs!) A dear friend through a lovely baby shower last weekend (pictures to come), co-workers from school had a lunch and shower in our honor this week and we are looking forward to one more shower this weekend. It’s been so special to see how many people already love this sweet little girl and are committed to supporting Gerber and I as we learn how to be her parents.

And perhaps one of the most meaningful parts has been to see how my mom already adores this little girl. I don’t quite understand the entirety of it- but I know there is something unique and deep about a mother’s heart. It’s like a mother’s love keeps multiplying, it doesn’t run out and nothing is held in reserve. I know my mom loves me and each of my siblings. We are her babies, no matter how big we get. But  I have loved seeing how she has even more love for this yet-to-be born little girl, her granddaughter.

Something about having a girl of my own in a few weeks makes me a bit more aware and sensitive to what it must feel like to have your grown-up daughter move far away. My parents are nothing but supportive and we joke, launched us 4 kids very well. At one point, they had one daughter living in Italy, another settled in Boston, me in Guatemala and my brother holding down the fort, at least within driving distance of their southern California home. But I don’t think a mother’s heart was meant to bridge long distances. Moms instinctively want to be close. I can feel it. And I know in 30 years if my daughter moves far away I am sure my heart will ache a bit and wish she was closer.



I am grateful became my mom came to spend a week with us last week. She came to be close; to get a little picture of our daily life here in Guatemala, to spend time with me before the baby comes and to be present. She joined us for a staff meeting and dinner with one of our teams and she came with me to school one day. We spent a lot of time in our little home- making cookies and quinoa salad, some hummus to eat now and lentil soup to freeze for after the baby is here. She taught me how to make apple pie, which somehow in my 30 years of living and eating I had never learned. We spent one sunny morning lounging at my favorite pool in town and some afternoons getting coffee, running errands and driving through the cobblestone streets of Antigua.


For 30 years my mom has shown me how to be a mom. How to love unconditionally, how say I am sorry and how to sacrifice and wait and pray and admit that you can’t always fix things for your kids even when you want to. She has shown me that moms too need nap times and coffee breaks and that calling a babysitter can be one of the best choices ever.

For as long as I can remember my mom has always had her nails painted. In fact I don’t think I even have a memory of her without nail-polish covering her nails. I never gave much thought to it, until recently. Moms’ hands have to deal with a lot. Poopy diapers, soapy water, spit-up, throw-up, clean-up, snotty noses and messy mouths and dirty toilets and I’m sure the list goes on. I kinda like that my mom dealt with all of those things (times 4!!) and somehow still made time or space to get her nails painted. Maybe it was her saving grace or a small way to take care of herself…and in turn her hands and her heart that spent mostly every other waking moment taking care of us.

I’ve never really asked her about it, but this week as I have been missing my mom and thinking about becoming a mother I went and got my nails done. With dark purple polish on my nails I thought I’m going to make this a tradition. I want to a good mom and I want to take care of myself so that I can take care of my daughter and our family. I think having painted nails may help…or at least make me remember my mom and feel utterly grateful for all she has done for me.

My thoughts and this post feel scattered, but maybe that’s what 35 weeks of pregnancy and approaching motherhood does to you.

Happy Friday to each of you!

Did your mom have any unique or fun traditions that you have kept? How have you learned to be a good mom, not a perfect one?



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5 thoughts on “Making Lists, A Mother’s Heart & Painted Nails

  1. Not Scattered, very heart felt !!! Blessings and you will be a great Mom after all you had an awesome example.

    Good Luck sweet girl!

  2. I love this post! Your nails, your belly, all the cute photos with your mama. It looks like a very special week, only to be topped by when she arrives to hold your baby.

  3. Yes, being a mom DEFINITELY makes me grateful for my own mother. And it’s funny that you mention moving away. Just this morning, Billy was saying that he imagines Ella will one day leave us in the dust. I nearly burst into tears right then!

    35 weeks!! I’m so excited for you. I can’t wait to hear (read) all about it! 🙂

  4. Hello Michelle,

    I just found your blog today through a link that I saw on Spanglish Baby. All I can tell you is that in a matter of hours I have cried, laughed, smiled, and felt inspired by your words and insights about life.

    I will tell you that I am also in a bilingual/bicultural relationhip. My boyfriend is from Mexico, and we have been together for almost 4 years (both together and apart if that makes sense to you). So much of what you have to say speaks to me. In addition, I am a Spanish teacher here in the U.S. This week is our last week of school, and I am looking forward to reading your blogging in these upcoming weeks of summer vacation when everything will be more relaxed.

    For now, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your ideas with the world. And, congrats to you and Gerber on your soon-to-arrive daughter 🙂

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