I Painted My Fingers Red

I sat in the sun yesterday and painted my fingernails fire engine red, which I didn’t have time to do.

It’s an early spring here, and we Oregonians feel both elated to see the sun and guilty our American neighbors to the east remain buried under yards of snow. 

We had another puker Friday night at our house. Kid number 4 out of 5 with this bug. Ten days and counting for our family. Twelve hours straight of vomiting Friday night, from 3pm until 3am Saturday, but he’s eight years old now, so he hit the bucket every time which feels like a miracle and a blessing. Parenting changes you, is what I’m saying. Pre-parenting, I can’t imagine I would’ve considered it a win to be up all night with a puker even if he did sink every basket — SWOOSH — no rim! Now I know sick happens, and we can do hard things, especially together, and it’s a Strange Joy to rub my baby’s back and brush the hair off his forehead and know he’s comforted by my squishy body in bed next to him, on the mend in the end thanks, in part, to me. 

I spent Friday night awake with my kid and the wee hours of Saturday morning sacked out; ostensibly sleeping in, but really trying to make a dent in my overall sleep deficit. I woke up feeling lazy and embarrassed I’d slept ’til 11am, as though, despite the sick kid and the work I’d done to comfort and protect him through the night, I should’ve conjured stamina where none was left so I could rise with the sun and be Diligent and Work Harder and Work Longer and Do More and, therefore, ultimately, Be More.

Which is where we often find ourselves, isn’t it? Inside this pressure cooker, self-imposed and otherwise, to Be More. To Do More so that we ARE More. To quiet the demons of Not Enough




Except there’s always something left undone. Just always. Always weeds to pull. Always a child who needs more attention. Always something sticky on the couch and gummy in the window sills and dusty under the beds. There are always chores I haven’t attended to. Always dishes to find in the house and in the yard and in the car with lids and solid milk that smells like the week-old dead. Always a dog who needs a bath, and a kid, and me, too. Me, too, needing a bath, but I’m last on the list most days because Work Harder, Work Longer, Do More, Be More.

Yesterday, the list was long. Endless, really, full of Shoulds and Belateds and Not Yets, but the sun was out and I sat down, accidentally, on my front steps. I sat and I rested. I sat, and I watched. While the dog ran roughshod through the yard and the kids ran roughshoddier, I sat and let the sun warm me and painted my nails fire engine red. And you what? I was Enough.


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13 responses to “I Painted My Fingers Red”

  1. My 2-year-old Sweet Pea just learned the word “dizzy,” but she says “busy.” As in, “Mommy, I spinned around and fall down. I’m busy (‘bizzy’).” And it just occurred to me that she is more right than she even knows: I’m so busy/dizzy it makes me spin around and fall down, too.

    The other night I gave up: left the dirty dishes and overdue freelance work and a wad of clean wrinkly laundry, and hid under a blanket and watched brain-rotting TV until I fell asleep-in a total funk, but over an hour earlier than if I had kept up my busy-ness/dizziness. I should have painted my nails instead, but it did feel good to cut myself some slack for once.

    Keep on soaking in the sun, ladies.

  2. All I have to say is thank you for that post. I needed that. I needed to hear that someone feels the way I do and that it’s okay.

  3. Oh, forgot to say that, another yes, I also know this feeling when they don´t through up over everything there is but, YES! into the bucket! No more neverending washing-machine runnings in the middle of the night and the following day. Parenting really makes you modest and thankful.It is those milestones that you didn´t know are even there before you were a parent.

  4. Wonderful! Yes! (I usually paint my nails during the ride on the train to work, becuaes I don´t know when else and that is exactly what they look like!)
    I know this feeling to just step aside of all these this-has-to-be-done-and-that-has-to-be-done and to juts sit there. And look at the green leaves to arrive. And listen to a bee humming around. Just looking and breathing and being! And waving!! Hi there all you momrades!

  5. “Which is where we often find ourselves, isn’t it? Inside this pressure cooker, self-imposed and otherwise, to Be More. To Do More so that we ARE More.”

    This. Yes to this. Thank you for understanding, for pointing it out, and for saying to the masses (and me) that it’s okay to sit and paint our nails sometimes.

    Just, thank you.

  6. Oh I’m so glad you took some time out for you! We all do get caught up in that rush of I should do this or that, but in the end we too need times to refill our buckets….Here’s to hoping that your family stays well for a while for you all!

  7. You bet your sweet bippy you’re enough, mama.

    I have a 4 year old snuggling in my lap right now and singing the approximate lyrics to a Schoolhouse Rock grammar song. Which I’m counting as having done school today.

    If I feel ambitious after dinner, we might watch Phineas and Ferb in Spanish.


  8. Love this!!! I can SO relate to that feeling of scarcity and “not enough” it’s such a pain in the ass and seems like it really shouldn’t be so complicated; just a simple choice. But it’s not. The mental mud takes away all the clarity. Much like life and parenting, you have to fight to see that magic. Cheers to you for taking a moment to rest! I really hope we bump into each other in heaven!! I’ll be the one with fire engine red nails, too! 😉

  9. Thank you. I think six kids is a lot of kids, too. And sometimes the list of need-to, have-to overruns the list of want-to. Want to hold a little one who doesn’t NEED holding–just wants it. Want-to listen to a teenager that doesn’t NEED talking, just wants it. I needed a reminder that the busy-ness of life isn’t the business of life. And that the WANT-tos, especially sleeping in, give the reason to the NEED-tos.

    • I think we should add another word here. The BUSY-MESS of life that just takes over. 😉
      And makes us not see what is really important sometimes.

  10. I am going to FINALLY paint my toes. I did it regularly before I got pregnant. I used to be good at self care, but then life hit, and my goal was to protect the little one growing in my and survive the meds that kept her alive and be a better wife to my husband who kept having to pick up the slack when all I could do was vomit and sleep. That has begin to resolve, and my body is acclimating to pregnancy, so I am instantly motivated to do more and be more. But you are right. I am enough. And my toes are atrocious. It will make me so happy to see them looking better.

  11. This makes me cry – with a hunger I can’t figure out how to end – but cry in a good way because I applaud you – you ARE enough, you ARE already, more than enough… And with your red nails you are indeed a force to be reckoned with! :).

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