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The Blessings of Being Raised by a Low-Maintenance Mother

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My mom has a little curve on the tip of her nose that she affectionately calls, “The Cullimore Hook.” She also has wrinkles on her face, a flat chest, a great smile and incredible legs. She is capable, kind, smart, low-maintenance and beautiful.

In today’s world, full of over-processed, over-done, over-glammed out women, I will be forever grateful that I was raised by a mother who has always been too busy with important things to scrutinize every inch of her body, to obsess about fine lines, to turn herself into something she isn’t.

For her, low-maintenance has never been Birkenstocks, dreadlocks and pajamas all day. In fact, long before gym-rats and cross-fit, my mom was up at 5:30 am attending an exercise class. She was home, showered and ready for the day often before we were even out of bed. She wore classic clothes and simple make-up with different haircuts throughout the years, some definitely better than others.

 

I remember, as a teenager, wondering why she didn’t reapply her face more often or get her nails done. I thought it was crazy that she mostly wore flats and had never had a massage or pedicure. She used Suave shampoo and hair spray, Clinique foundation, and drugstore mascara. She didn’t get things lifted, enhanced, or lasered. I have always had a healthy expectation of what a real woman’s body should look like because of her.

We shopped together at inexpensive stores where she she taught me how to dress for my body, look for items that were stylish but on sale, and to buy only clothes I was sure I would wear. Brands didn’t matter and clothes were fun but never used as a status symbol. Our outings were enjoyable but not excessive.

I watched her, at times, put a lot of effort into what she looked like…an extra coat of mascara, hot rollers in her hair, or a fantastic new dress and heels, but that kind of time and energy on herself was reserved for special occasions.

Beauty was never a main topic of conversation around our house. It was assumed that we would look put together, situationally appropriate, and take care of ourselves, but there was no expectation to be beautiful. After all, beauty is capricious, subjective, and fleeting, and my mom understood that.

Dinner table talk revolved around what we were doing and accomplishing, who we were helping, what we were struggling with, and what was happening in the world, not what we looked like. We didn’t bond over manicures and beauty tips but grew incredibly close as she assisted us in becoming our best spiritual, academic, and emotional selves.

Today, as a very financially stable woman in her mid-50s, she is just as grounded. No eyelash or hair extensions, Botox or tummy tucks, and she smiles for pictures when she is in her pajamas and without make-up.

Yes, she has started getting her eyebrows waxed, coloring her hair, using nicer shampoo, and I’m pretty sure her clothes are no longer from Mervyn’s, but she is still just the same. She does not define herself by what she looks like or if people think she is 10 years younger than her true age. She defines herself by what she gives.

I had no idea what an impact her little choices and quiet example to be her best natural self would have on me as I became an adult. When budgets were tight, our funds weren’t siphoned towards spa appointments or $30 shampoo. In the early years of our marriage, I didn’t have to set aside money for the Nordstrom sale or for high end shoes. I have always been good at “making do” with what I had or finding a great, new shirt for under $20 that made me smile.

I have varicose veins that scare children, love handles I can’t help but pinch, stretch marks like cat scratches, and plenty of wrinkles already, but it’s all okay because my mom taught me something much more valuable than how to accessorize.

She taught me that being less than perfect is perfectly okay. She taught me that taking care of my body is worth it, but that moderation is necessary. She showed  me that the fountain of youth is not found in a bottle or needle, but in a childlike heart and caring nature.

She taught me that real beauty is having a life purpose that allows you to brush aside the unimportant. She encouraged me to be anxiously engaged in causes that fulfill me so I don’t have to search for happiness in places I won’t find it. She taught me that a new outfit can be a great pick-me-up, but nothing takes you higher than knowing you are right with God.

It’s hard to ever measure up to your mom. In fact, there may come a day when I laser those pesky varicose veins or iron out my wrinkly skin. My eyes never open at 5:30 am, and I have a hard time leaving the house without a fresh coat of lipstick, but because of her, I know that smooth legs, a youthful face and pink lips have nothing to do with who I really am. What defines me is how I love, who I serve, and what I create with this precious body and little time I am given.

My mom isn’t perfect, but she has always been perfect for me. Her sweet example, deliberate focus, constant push and unconditional love taught me that being comfortable in my own skin will consistently be my biggest asset and that I have always been just right, just the way I am.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

This post was originally published one year ago on my previous blog, Mom Explores Michigan

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39 thoughts on “The Blessings of Being Raised by a Low-Maintenance Mother

  1. This is simply beautiful and such a meaningful encouragement to all the rest of us. Your mum doesn't need make-up cos she's gorgeous! That very first photo on top – wow!

    Have a very blessed Mother's Day, Brooke.

    Love, Lyn from Singapore

  2. Another great one Brooke! I have to totally agree with you about your mom. She is a great example to us all. You are a pretty great mom yourself. Mirror mirror on the wall…You are your mother after all! Not such a bad thing! Happy Mother's Day! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and love and honor for your mom. I think she's pretty great too!

  3. Brooke your mother is a wonderful blessing to so many! She's a loving mother & a wonderful, caring friend! Love all the cute pictures! You have described her with such love & respect…she is a role model for so many!! She's been mine since we were in the 7th grade! 😉

  4. All the way from Singapore, I feel so honored L Lee! Thank you for sharing your feeling and your kind words with me. And yes, she is a beautiful woman, inside and out!

  5. This is so beautifully written. It may be my favorite blog post ever. This is the kind of low maintenance mom that I aspired to be. I came from a low maintenance family and still live a pretty low maintenance life. I can't imagine being raised by parents who were wrapped up in beauty, money, and success. I think more than anything I didn't want my kids to ever see me criticize my body and always see me valuing my body. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing this lovely post.

  6. BROOKE, IT WAS SO DELIGHTFUL FOR ME TO READ ABOUT YOUR SWEET MOTHER. I KNEW HER MANY YEARS AGO IN OK WHEN I WAS A BABYSITTING TEEN AND SHE WAS A SWEET LITTLE CURLY HEADED GIRL. IT SOUNDS TO ME LIKE SHE REMAINED HER GENUINE SELF THROUGH THE YEARS WHO RAISED A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY. I HAVE ONLY SEEN HER A FEW TIMES SINCE THEN AND I KNOW SHE IS ONE OF THE BEST. SINCERELY, VICKI B

    1. Hello Vicki! How fun to “meet” you here and connect with you! I cannot wait to tell my about this comment. She has always been a wonderful woman. I feel lucky she is mine. Thank you so much for taking time to comment!

  7. Admiring the persistence you put into your blog and in depth information you present.

    It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Great read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  8. This has me in tears. Thank you for reminding me of what is important. I’ve been struggling with my job as a mom and this was just the wake up call I needed. I don’t need to look perfect or have the perfect house to perfectly love my kids. Thanks, Brooke.

    1. So well said! I need this reminder often. It can be hard to be everything. I have to remember that I know what is most important. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Love to your family!

  9. Love this, Brooke! Such a meaningful tribute to your Amazing Momma! I love Kim, she is beautiful inside and out and inspires everyone around her. I see a lot of her great qualities in you! I love your blog, you are so wise, real and refreshing! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Treena! I know my mom loves you too. Thanks for your kind words…they mean the world to me.

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