Most girls growing up, past a certain age, consider themselves cooler than their parents and wouldn’t go to their mom for advice past how to use their first feminine hygiene product or how to apply mascara . . . maybe. My relationship with my mom is different. I was shown a path by my mother that, until recent years, I hadn’t realized I was on. She imparted her sense of style to me in every sense of that word. As I became a woman I read quotes like this one and would reflect on how my mother displayed this style and beauty for me growing up.
— Audrey Hepburn
Mom courageously started her own new business when I was five, my sister was two, and my brother was five months old.
She became a jewelry lady.
From then on she would be an independent distributor for Premier Designs, the direct sales jewelry company founded on biblical principles that would change the life of my family. She wasn’t what you’d call a fashion icon at the time, as evidenced by her hip-length hair and the feather dangle earrings on her dresser (but then again, I didn’t grow up in the ’70’s, so what do I know?). All she knew was that she wanted the freedom of her own business to be able to raise her kids how she wanted, but in the process she donned a new confident, fashionable self from the inside out. This was my influence growing up of what a real woman is. I realize the impact her profession has had on me when people are fascinated by my eye make-up or remark how my jewelry matches every outfit I wear (I have accumulated an incalculable sum of Premier pieces over the years).
All of us who grew up with involved parents have stories of what they wouldn’t let us do. The arguments with my mom about why I couldn’t wear a tiny bikini at age thirteen are still burned into my memory. The message I received growing up in the church was an overly simple one. “Be modest,” I interpreted as “be anti-culture” and didn’t understand why I couldn’t be like everyone else. I knew some Christian families who dressed their young girls in giant baggy t-shirts to make sure they were safe from the corruption of immodesty, but not my mom. She would point me to outfits that were fashionable alternatives to revealing clothing instead of solving the problem with frumpy clothes. (As a 90’s kid I actually chose the baggy grunge look more than I’d like to admit, but I digress.) Her answers of “because we don’t wear that in our house” I now interpret as a calling to a higher plane.
Her confidence in her business and her abilities, her ability to network and simultaneously love people, the way she does that two-tone eye shadow thing, and her fabulous jewelry collection are all things I’ve inherited from her. I also have aunts, a grandmother, and mentors who have also pointed me toward the direction of godliness, class, and real beauty. All the pieces of their womanhood, their beauty, and even fashion have seeped into my person-hood through the years without me knowing it.
Once I realized this, I lost a lot of my fear. There are the days I am filled with a quiet confidence and I walk into rooms and situations with the good pieces of my mom and others along for the ride. They don’t quite know how they’re being carried around in another soul — to other places, and living a completely different life, and a working in a completely different career.
Still, about every other day, I fail at this with shocking severity. You can usually tell by the pile of clothes I’ve tried on (through tears) that are still limp in a pile on my floor. Also a strong indicator is the peeved husband sitting in another room. I watched my mom fail at this same thing. The battle against the world’s standards of beauty is a daily battle that she and I still fight and lose more than we’d like to admit.
None of the former strengths I listed would mean anything without understanding the failure. My mom is real, flawed, beautiful, and precious. This Mother’s Day I salute her for teaching me her class and her fashion.
I’m still trying to be like you, Mom. I think I need you to take me shoe shopping . . .