5 Tips from My Mom (Kinda)

To me, Mom.
She’s been dead for over 5 years, and, like most women who have lost their moms, I still think of her every day, many times a day – especially as I watch my own girls grow. For a long time, I was just too sad to write about her in a public way. I felt I could never do her justice with mere words, and was just so raw about it that I didn’t want to talk about her. I still carry the sadness of her absence with me at all times, but I have woven in some of the frayed ends of that sadness, so that most of it feels beautiful in me now. When I do cry about her, the tears are different. Early on, they burned hot and stung my eyes, and left me angry and exhausted. Now, the tears, which still come often, just feel like “overflow” – as if the bottomless well of love that she carried in her was transferred to me, and just gets jostled from time to time, spilling a bit out.

Okay. Don’t worry. I am not going to stay all deep and philosophical and touchy-feely. Here is the reason for this post: I wanted to write down a few tips I thought she would give me, give us all, if she were still here to do so. Little things that stand out in my memory as being quintessentially her, or things people noticed when they met her. In no particular order, here they are.

Tip #1
Use a warm washcloth when you wash your face. She did this every morning and night. She would hold the warm cloth over her face and keep it there for a few breaths. I have been doing it lately, and it is incredibly calming. Not steaming hot, just nice and warm. It’s also an excellent method of opening pores before cleansing. But I think my mom did it because it just felt so darn good.

Tip #2
Overdress. Her version of “jeans” was a pair of linen/silk/cotton blend trousers. And the poor woman was cursed with a daughter who wore real jeans 343 days a year for about 30 years (I’m down to about 300 days a year now), and a son who did the sniff test to see if his clothes were clean enough to wear (and still does). Karmic payback is at work, as neither of my daughters will wear jeans, ever. But here’s the point. She always looked put together. Like she was presenting herself, gift that she was, to anyone she met. And people noticed. Even now, every time I wear something of hers – a shirt, earrings, a handbag – someone compliments it. Every, single time. And I wink at her.

Tip #3
When you meet someone, if there is ANY chance you have met that person before, just say “it’s nice to see you”, rather than “it’s nice to meet you”. It’s so simple, and could prevent a thorny moment, such as “uh, yes, we met when we all went skinny-dipping after Pam’s wedding”. (If you are an iPhone junkie, check out the app called Evernote Hello – keeps notes about people you meet so you can keep it all straight!)

Tip #4
Be discrete about it, but pamper yourself. My mother was a partner in a DC law firm with a busy practice and a hugely successful career. But, when her secretary said she was “in an appointment”, I knew what that meant: With a masseuse, or her facialist, or having a manicure, or a hair cut, or… You get the idea. No matter how busy her life got, she took time for herself. She used high end skin care products, and bought beautiful quality clothes. She never apologized for it. And neither should you. You don’t NEED these things, no. But will they make you happier? They probably will. Mostly because you are taking a few moments to nurture yourself, which makes it easier to nurture others in return.

Tip #5
LAUGH. Especially at yourself. My husband was a junior lawyer under my mom for 8 years. They were working together, presenting to clients in a large conference room. She ran the meeting in her competent, professional, uniquely graceful way, and left the clients impressed – they were in good hands. She concluded the meeting, got up from the table, and promptly strode into a closet, which she thought was the door to the conference room. He remembers her bursting out laughing, dousing any sense of awkwardness, inviting everyone in the room to laugh at her, with her. This is a trait she passed to me, and one for which I am endlessly grateful. Taking yourself, and LIFE, too seriously is a heavy burden to carry. So put it down. Lighten up. And laugh.

Hope you get to put one of these little tips to use soon. And leave us a comment below if you do!


55 Responses to “5 Tips from My Mom (Kinda)”

  1. Leslie Johnson

    This brought tears to my eyes… The tips are so great and I have to say, I do a lot of those things!
    The big one for me that has helped keep me feeling younger and gets me out of my head, is LAUGHTER!

    • admin

      And your laugh spreads like the bubonic plague, Leslie!! (In a good way, that is.)

  2. Vicki

    What a sweet post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing. I’m a very recent customer but have LOVED everything about your company and how you do business. I look forward to being a loyal customer for a long time to come.

    • admin

      So happy to have you as an Osmia girl, Vicki! Thanks for reading.

  3. Cari

    LOVE! Can we schedule an ‘appointment’? Maybe share a ton of laughs – sooner rather than later? Love you and all that you offer.

    • admin

      Yes. Appointment to be scheduled asap. Love you and all you offer right back.

  4. Karla

    Great tips! Especially #4, pamper yourself. We deserve it. And we do! With your products. Thank you, and thanks for the nice story.

    • admin

      Thanks, Karla. I think my Mom might have been my best customer, but you are helping fill the gap! So glad to be a part of your day.

  5. Kate

    This is beautiful. I will think of your mother when I do that warm washcloth trick this evening.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Kate – thanks for reading. Love that you will think of my lovely mama when you wash your face!

  6. Kayley

    What a beautiful post, really struck a chord with me… I’m sure your mom would be very proud of you x

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Thanks, Kayley. I think she would be proud, too. When I question myself, I try to remember how encouraging and crazy positive she was about everything I did. Makes me conscious of trying to do that for my girls now…

  7. Ashlee

    This was so moving. What a beautiful tribute to your mother.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Ashlee – thanks so much for reading.

  8. Jill V.

    This is such a nice way to offer us a piece of your mom – who sounds like an amazing woman.

    My father died almost eight years ago and this may be a good way for me to heal. I will have to work on putting a list together similar to yours. He taught me so much and I often find myself referring back to him.


    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Jill –
      Great idea – let us know if you do write down some of the things he taught you – we’d love to read them! Thanks for reading.

  9. audrey

    I’m coming up on the third anniversary of my mom’s death this weekend, and this was EXACTLY what I needed to read at this moment. I lost my mom so young that often I feel I didn’t get a chance to ask her all of the questions I wanted to, and when I come across an article like this I feel like there is always someone there. Thank you. xo

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Oh, Audrey. Death anniversaries can sneak up on you – crabby or weepy or just depleted – that’s when I look at the calendar and realize it’s coming. Be kind to yourself – warm baths are a good place to let a few tears slide away… Love to you.

  10. Mona

    I love all the tips your mom gave you and thank you for sharing…the old moms were very intelligent…thank you

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Yes, if only we could all leave an impression with our children like she did with me. Gives me a goal every day. Thanks for reading.

  11. writesandrights

    This is so touching. I lost my mom a year ago, and though her voice follows me everywhere with encouragement and love, sometimes I just long for the real thing. This made me feel a little bit closer to her today. Thank you.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Bethany – I know the feeling so very, very well. Sending love.

  12. Alex

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Thanks for reading, Alex!

  13. Kathryn

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. It sounds like your mom was a beautiful, remarkable woman. I intend to try ALL of these! :)

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Kathryn – she was just a total original. But we all are, right? Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

  14. Anela

    This is a very sweet post. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Anela – thank you right back.

  15. sanaa rahman

    so beautifully written, you love for your mother came through in every word. she sounds like a phenomenal woman

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Thank you for your kind words. She was the perfect combination of mom/best friend – a tough balance to strike, I think! Have a great weekend.

  16. Shane

    Clicked over from Cup Of Jo – what a lovely post/tribute this is. I lost my mom 6 years ago and know how hard it is (especially being pregnant now), but like you, I always keep my mom in my thoughts and am so grateful for the wonderful memories, large and small that she left with me.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Shane, it is really an amazing thought when you consider that the egg that made that baby you are carrying was IN your mom, as we girls are born with all our eggs. So, while your baby will not know her physically, he/she was inside her belly! Also a little weird. But your mama will be right there when you give birth – you’ll feel her helping you through that beautiful experience. Wishing you all the best.

  17. Erin

    You write about your Mom in such a lovely way – I also lost my mother about seven years ago now, and all of these tips resonant with what I remember of her and her vivid and graceful approach to life. Thank you!

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Erin – thanks for reading. So glad it made you think about your special mom, and so nice to connect with you. Sometimes it feels lonely when your mom is gone – but not as much when others like you share your loss. Love to you.

  18. Betsy

    What a lovely posting. I lost both of my parents a few years ago, and I struggle with it everyday — especially as I raise two little boys who never got the chance to meet them. I often think I need my parents’ advice. Thanks for the reminder that they already taught me everything I need to know.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Betsy, so true. It’s a good reminder, also, that our job as parents is, somehow, secretly, to instill that knowledge in our kids – that they can handle what life brings with grace and confidence. What a gift. Thanks for your comment.

  19. Hillary

    I love your Mom, she was clearly a special lady. And well done for raising such a wonderful daughter:)

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Thanks for reading. So glad you popped in!

  20. Nina

    I LOVE your list of 5 tips from your Mom. She really sounds like a great lady. I especially love the tips on overdressing and saying “nice to SEE you”, I’ve tried remembering to do thatbv after getting into a few uncomfortable situations.
    My Mom also does the washcloth thing. I haven’t done it in years, not since she did it to me when I was little. You’ve inspired me to try it again!

    Thank you so much for a great post! I found you through Cup of Jo and I’m so glad I did!


    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Nina – Thanks so much for reading. You’ll LOVE the washcloth. So simple, so sublime. Thanks for finding us – my youngest daughter is Nina, too!

  21. cath

    I loved reading those 5 tips, especially 1 and 5, I think we don’t laugh at ourselves enough!
    Sadly 2 & 4 are out of my reach, as they involve money, and we barely make ends meet! But good to remember if my government finally decides to pay teacher well! :)

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Cath – Teachers everywhere are pathetically underpaid, this is a sad truth. But you CAN ABSOLUTELY follow tips 2 and 4!! You don’t have to have expensive clothing to make yourself look put together – all it takes is a crisp white shirt, an eyelash curler, and some lip gloss! And pampering yourself takes only time and attention. There are tons of do-it-yourself beauty treatments like a yogurt face mask or an olive oil salt scrub that will make your skin glow. Really, the important thing about either of those tips is the act of taking time to nourish yourself!

      • cath

        You are so right of course! I will try to dig out the pants that are hidden behind my jeans and wear them more often! And that facial scrub sounds fun! Thank you so much!!

        • Sarah Villafranco, MD

          Cath – To clarify, the above is a body scrub – table salt is much too harsh for the face. For a face scrub, combine plain yogurt and some almond flour or oat flour – softer and more hydrating for the face!

  22. Sydney

    Love this, I also lost my mother last year and they sound like they were very much alike. What a lovely tribute to her.

    I recently listened to the song “Golden Slumbers” by the Beatles and it helped me release a lot of emotion I’d been holding in since the day my mother passed away. My mother had COPD and had struggled terribly for the last six months of her life. She fell and was unresponsive and intubated for the last day of her life. I spent her last six hours with her alone in the hospital. It was clear she wasn’t going to make it and it had been decided they were going to remove her tube at noon. I wanted to sing a song to comfort her and couldn’t think of anything except to tell her how much I loved her and assure her it was going to be okay and she could rest, relax and finally be comfortable and no longer have to struggle to breathe. She was my best friend and I was hers too. Golden Slumbers is the song I would have sung to her had I thought of it. The lyrics just moved me when I heard them. I’d heard the song many times before but they never meant anything to me until now. “Once there was a way to get back homeward. Once there was a way to get back home. Sleep pretty darling do not cry, I will sing a lullaby. Golden slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles awake you when you rise. Sleep pretty darling do not cry, I will sing a lullaby.” It’s just such a beautiful calming song. I only wish I’d been able to sing it to her on that day. Thanks for sharing, your mother sounds like a wonderful person just like my mom.

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Sydney, thanks for sharing that – beautiful lyrics, indeed. I also found Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” to be really helpful at letting me just release some of my tears… Sending love to you.

  23. Dawn

    You’re Mom sounds like such a great lady!!

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      She was, Dawn – thanks for reading!

  24. Colleen

    New visitor from Cup of Jo – I lost my mom in 1997, also named Judie. Great piece! I should do all of these things…

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Well, I’m so sorry we have this fact in common, Colleen, but glad you clicked over – let us know if you try some of them! Thanks for reading.

  25. Shawnee

    Oh my, what a touching and beautiful post! Seriously. Brought tears to my eyes. :) What nice little things for us all to remember.. thank you! xox

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Thanks, Shawnee – so glad you took a moment to connect. Have a wonderful week.

  26. courtney

    next time you share a moment (or wink) with your mom, thank her for her great advice. ill make sure to follow it. xx

    • Sarah Villafranco, MD

      Will do, Courtney – thanks for reading!

  27. g

    Wow! Gorgeous mom and daughter – you look just like your mom!

    Thanks for the tips and sharing your mom’s memory :)