05/10/2010 09:31 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Mother's Day Manicure

All girls like to primp and preen just like their moms.

And on this particular Mother's Day, as I sat getting my bi-weekly mani/pedi, I watched as a little girl, no older than five, had her nails painted.

She chose bright purple for her fingers.

And neon orange for her tiny toes.

As she squirmed under the nail dryers and waited for her mom to finish with her own well-earned pampering, I leaned over and said, "your nails are very pretty sweetheart."

She proudly grinned and said, "thank you."

Then, with a look of half-guilt and exasperated dismay, she leaned in and whispered, "I smudged them again."

"That's ok," I replied. "It happens to all of us."

As her mother called for her, she got up and walked across the room, hands outstretched, apologizing with her head down.

"I smudged them again Mom." "I'm sorry."

"That's ok baby, I'll fix them when we get home."

The little girl, relieved and grateful, said her thank yous (to every woman who worked at the day spa), took her mom's hand, and left.

As I sat there, I couldn't help but think of my own mother and all the smudges in my life she has managed to repair.

From the random skinned-knees of my youthful tomboy mishaps.

To the obligatory growing pains of adolescence.

From the soothing words in my early adulthood when I was confronted with a mental illness I thought I'd never resurface from.

To the calming affirmations when I was going through my divorce.

My mother has been there, along the way, fixing the smudges of my imperfect life.

And the smudges have been plentiful.

And messy.

And deep.

Sometimes she was able to single-handedly remove the glop and help me start over.

And other times she simply knew to smooth out the edges.

But perhaps it was the times she examined the disorder.

Realized it was far too fucked up to fix.

And taught me that sometimes I just needed to live with the ugly chaos.

I hope someday I can smooth some of her smudges.

I would paint her the perfect pedicure.

I would give her a base coat of stability and assuredness.

I would coat her nails with the smoothest satin.

And bless her finger tips with an easy white

I'd top it all off with a glistening sheen.

And even dig for her keys in the bottom of her pocketbook.