To say it simply, I am not me without the love and kindness of the women who came before me. The examples that I had showing what it meant to nurture. What it meant to be your authentic self always. To laugh at yourself. To give thanks for blessings. To test resilience in troubled times and stand tall against a storm. To stand true to your family and love unconditionally, even when that is a great challenge. To give comfort in times of sadness, truth in times of necessity and love always, even when it is tough love. To set a table and bring a beautiful meal to life complete with beautiful decor. To dress oneself with pride, style and posture – always. To know the value of history, so as to learn it and not repeat it. These are just some of the lessons that I have learned from the women who came before me. 

To Serafina and Elvira, great grandmothers whom I never knew personally, but their memory is something I carry. I know of Serafina’s strength (she gave birth to 8 children!) and Elvira’s too as she fought cancer at such a young age. I wish I could have known these women who helped to shape my mother’s side of the family. 

My grandmother Ida on the left, her brother Pete in front of her mom, Elvira and her father, Francesco.

Serafina + Guiseppe Michelotti’s wedding photo.

Serafina later in life, outside of the Assumption church (across the street from our restaurant on Franklin & Illinois). She is in the photo with my Aunt Yolanda (all the way to the left) who taught me so much about her mom.

To Ida and Mary, my grandmothers who were different as night and day, but shared a strong spirit and a low tolerance for bullshit. Mary was a force. Teaching anyone who paid attention that her love of her family was fierce, and her love of quality ingredients when cooking was too. 

My grandmother (one over from the left) was always with her brother Pete and his wife, Rose (the blond all the way over to the right). Growing up, these six were such a shaping force in my life. The other woman in the photo is my aunt Yolanda and her husband Gino. You can see I am at my first dance recital and they all made sure to be there. This was the golden age of my childhood when there were all alive and constantly present.

Ida will forever be with me within all of her “isms” both in Italian and English. She was the first person to show me what a beautiful table could look like. I miss her beautiful house robes and warm tea pot that was always on the stove. Her smile. And the comfort she brought to my Mom. 

My Grandmother Mary with all of her children and children in law, enjoying a joke in the photo…

My first Christmas, and Gene & Ida front and center with the turkey! LOL. Their outfits though. God I love the 70’s

To my great Aunt Yolanda who I miss every day for her wit and conversation. And her laughter, and spirited conversation about subjects ranging from Italian politics to the White Sox (I am a cubs fan and she loved to tease me about that). 

To my aunts who have brought much laughter and support over the years that has been so appreciated. Special shout out to my Aunt MaryAnn who inspires me every day. And to all of my cousins that are moms too – Gabs, my hat is off to you beautiful lady as you tackle motherhood, married life, restaurant life, and so many other things with the same style and grace like our Nonnie Ida had. So proud of you.

These women inspire me everyday. Lenzi cousins ♥️

My Aunt Geri, my mother’s sister and my godmother.

My Aunt MaryAnn who inspires me daily. From her career as an educator to her fluency in Spanish to her love of common sense politics – she teaches me, supports me and motivates me daily. She is such a special woman.

The four ladies in this photo have had our fair share of adventure from Elmwood Park, IL to Italy and beyond.

To the women in my life who are like second moms. From Caitlyn’s amazing Mom Lynne who has offered such support and love throughout our journeys to the fabulous Ms. Ila, Kimberly and Linds who are like family. In fact, much of the horse community from Caitlyn’s fellow equestrians (Rolling Acres!!) to our barn moms on the True North team, there is always such support from moms and that is such an awesome thing! Especially on the road when we are traveling.

I always love our co-mom adventures! Love you Lynnie!

Who becomes family rarely depends on blood. I know this for a fact as an adopted person, I have no “blood” relations. My family are all people that I choose to love, who make that choice to love me right back.

My sister in Law Courtney has a beautiful new baby and this is her first Mother’s Day! Congrats to this beautiful human, who gave birth to a beautiful little boy named Charlie. She impresses me every day with her fearlessness and her heart that is open to the world. Happy day to you, Court ♥️  In fact, I have several new moms in my life this year with dear friends and family welcoming their first borns in to the world and it has been amazing to watch and celebrate these women that I adore and love as their flourish in motherhood!

Of course a shoutout is needed to my mother in law, Jan because without her there would be no Collin and for that I am eternally grateful! And also to his lovely grandmother June, who will be celebrating 95 this coming June!

I decided to save my own Mom as the last in this tribute. Not because she is the best, but because she is the most central, important, driving figure in my life. Nobody has ever led more by example than my mother. She stays true to herself always and is arguably the most genuine, honest and straightforward person you will ever meet. She senses things about people and gets feelings that are usually right. She is made of emotions, and wears them on her sleeve but does so with a casual grace and zero apologies. She is always herself in any setting, and because of that is really comfortable in her own skin. I think that is why she just doesn’t age because she is 100% ok with who she is and where she is in life. But let me tell you one thing – as funny as she can be and as nurturing as she can be, I would suggest you never cross the line with my mother. I have seen maybe twice in my life someone cross a line my mother believed to be too much. Both times it came down to my mother protecting her family. And let me tell you – the ferocity there was next level. She is grace personified but has the heart of a lion and that is one of the things I love most about her.

She definitely had her hands full 😂

There is no better partner in crime, especially on the streets of Italy. My mom comes to life here just like I do and it is something that we share a deep love for.

Even more than her 7,000 text messages a day. Or the fact that she is now on Instagram. My mom is as real as it gets. She supports me more than anybody else on the planet and helps me with things both large and small. She still comes to my house when I clean out my closets every season so she can help me. We both use the day as an excuse to spend time together just the two of us. My mother taught me about strength. And style. She taught me by example how important it is to laugh at yourself. And that sometimes you put your own needs aside to comfort and provide for your loved ones, but you take no shit from anybody. Ever. She is a force. And I am so profoundly grateful for her.

One last shout out – to all who nurture, to all of the moms out there, like me; Dog moms, Horse moms, Cat moms, second moms. Foster moms, step moms, Dads who are both “mom” and dad, and to all the people out there who send love in to the world. Thank you for doing that – today I celebrate you!

To the women out there who may not have human children of their own, but support other women and lead by examples of love and kindness. To those who inspire and support others. We can all celebrate this day, so let’s do that, shall we? Let’s celebrate you, Let’s celebrate us. Sending you all love ❤️ Michelle xo



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