EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
The Mother of All Wisdom
REAL SIMPLE ASKED 32 INFLUENCERS, JOY MAKERS, AND BALANCE SEEKERS THE BEST LESSON THEIR MOM EVER TAUGHT THEM—AND HOW THEY ARE PASSING IT DOWN TO THEIR OWN KIDS.

BEAUTY RUNS DEEP

Mom Said…

“Live every day as if it were your last.” My mother was diagnosed with cancer before I turned 1, and they gave her six months to live. By the grace of God, she lived until I was 17. Every day, I watched her faith, power, strong will, and passion for life. She was super glam too: I remember watching her get ready. She taught me how to do makeup. She’s my muse to this day.

MALLY RONCAL, CELEBRITY MAKEUP ARTIST, FOUNDER OF MALLY BEAUTY, AND MOM OF THREE

Mom Said…

“It’s not about how you look—it’s how you feel about how you look.” For me, this plays a huge role. Skin-care and beauty rituals give me joy. I absolutely love baths, serums, and makeup. Were it not for her teaching, I might feel bad about it or deny myself such indulgences. But because of her, I recognize it as part of who I am and deem it an integral part of my self-care.

DENDY ENGELMAN, MD, SURGEON AT MEDICAL DERMATOLOGY & COSMETIC SURGERY IN NEW YORK CITY AND MOM OF TWO

I Tell My Kids…

“Don’t get mired in comparing yourself with others.” I want my kids to laugh and play and to open their minds to this incredible world we live in and make it a better place.

ELLEN MARMUR, MD, FOUNDER OF MMSKINCARE AND MARMUR MEDICAL IN NEW YORK CITY AND MOM OF FOUR

Mom Said…

My mom did not directly speak these words to me, but her actions resonated: Every Sunday, she would have me wash my hair and moisturize my scalp immediately afterward. I try to continue to maintain a healthy scalp. Our skin is often a telltale sign of when we are not hydrating enough.

LACY REDWAY, CELEBRITY HAIRSTYLIST IN NEW YORK CITY AND MOM OF ONE

Mom Said…

She believed in being yourself and saw beauty as a way of enhancing who you naturally are. I make sure I have plenty of times in my life without makeup. I love a good glam session, but I love the natural me just as much.

LISA PRICE, FOUNDER OF CAROL’S DAUGHTER BEAUTY BRAND AND MOM OF THREE

The Best Advice My Kid Ever Gave Me

“Wear More Makeup.”

When I was growing up, it was a badge of honor among my jock friends and me to not wear makeup. In my provincial little world, not wearing it felt like the truest way to live my feminist ideals. Fast-forward a few decades and the joke is on me, when I beg my 16-year-old daughter, Abby, to educate me on the finer points of highlighters and primers. Somehow I’ve raised a kid who knows when Milk releases a new face mask and walks through Ulta like she’s the mayor. She loves all things cosmetics, obsessing over YouTube lash-lengthening tutorials, outfitting me with essentials (Deuces lipstick from Milk, Smudge Stick Eyeliner from Stila), and stockpiling Sephora gift cards to treat herself to a rice exfoliant from Tatcha.

I want to be outraged by the betrayal of my feminism, but it’s somehow the opposite. Abby’s enthusiasm for mascara doesn’t supplant other parts of her life. She’s a STEM kid who marches for climate change, plays two varsity sports—and sets her alarm to the exact second Kylie Skin will release a new product. Makeup for her isn’t something to apologize for. It’s definitely not something she overthinks, the way I did as a kid. It’s just one more part of herself to love and embrace, and I’m all for it.

JENNY ROSENSTRACH, AUTHOR OF DINNER: A LOVE STORY AND MOM OF TWO

COMFORT IN THE KITCHEN

Mom Said…

“Cooking is about nourishment, both physical and spiritual.” We cook for people because we want to feed them, so don’t worry about being perfect. Your time is better spent in their company than in the kitchen, fretting over every detail.

PADMA LAKSHMI, HOST OF TOP CHEF, CREATOR OF HULU’S TASTE THE NATION, AND MOM OF ONE

Mom Said…

“Never order lobster or chicken on a first date—too messy.”

I Tell My Kid…

“What’s most important about cooking is sharing.” I love having meals with friends and family, at home or out, and I wanted my son, Josh, to have that love. Mission accomplished.

DORIE GREENSPAN, JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER, AUTHOR OF EVERYDAY DORIE: THE WAY I COOK, AND MOM OF ONE

Mom Said…

“A good chef always cleans up after himself.” She told me this over and over when I was a teenager. Granted, she likely gave me this advice because she didn’t want to clean up after me, but it has served me remarkably well in my career.

JAMES BRISCIONE, CHEF, RESTAURANT OWNER, AUTHOR OF THE FLAVOR MATRIX, AND DAD OF TWO

Mom Said…

“If you dissolve anchovies in oil before sautéing something, no one will know they’re in the pan, but they add so much flavor.”

I Tell My Kid…

“Eat what you like and don’t eat what you don’t like, but be open to trying things.”

MELISSA CLARK, NEW YORK TIMES FOOD COLUMNIST, AUTHOR OF DINNER IN FRENCH, AND MOM OF ONE

I Tell My Kids…

“Appreciate the ordinary joy of gathering around a table with people you love.”

JESSICA BATTILANA, AUTHOR OF REPERTOIRE: ALL THE RECIPES YOU NEED AND MOM OF TWO

Mom Said…

I grew up in Tijuana, and her rules always pertained to Mexican food. When you come home with fresh tortillas, separate them until cool—to prevent sticking—then restack. The entire kitchen would be filled with tortilla disks.

I Tell My Kids…

“No food is bad or good. What’s made with love is good for you and your soul.”

MARCELA VALLADOLID, CHEF, AUTHOR OF CASA MARCELA AND FIESTAS: TIDBITS, MARGARITAS & MORE, AND MOM OF THREE

The Best Advice My Kid Ever Gave Me

“Listen To This Music.”

Because we’re both thrifty, my 21-year-old son, Joe, and I share a music-streaming account—even though I’m in Massachusetts and he’s in college in Texas. Alas, only one of us can listen at a time, so he kicks me off when he needs bright techno for his morning bus ride and I’m at home writing to “Deep Focus Trance,” or when he feels like partying to “Candy Noise” during my soothing evening groove. I’ve come to love these disruptions because they give me a tiny portal into his life. Exploring his playlists has also taught me a lot about new music: When someone mentions lo-fi pop, microhouse, or bootgaze, I actually know what they’re talking about. (Bootgaze: moody, vaguely country-and-western ambient sounds for blue moments spent staring at your dusty old boots.)

Connecting through streaming music has helped smooth the transition from full-spectrum momhood to a role that’s still attentive but more circumspect, more of an avid fan and friend, cheering from afar and offering consolation when needed (and when the “Bootgaze” list is in heavy rotation, I know it is). In some ways, sharing Joe’s music has helped me find new footing. We’ll always be mother and child, but cued by his digital beats, I’m easing into a different rhythm—deep yet chilled out—for my endless love.

DEBRA JO IMMERGUT, AUTHOR OF YOU AGAIN (OUT IN JULY) AND MOM OF ONE

HOW YOU LOOK & FEEL

Mom Said…

“Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.” She always says that work of any kind is a privilege, and the most important thing is to have a sense of humor about yourself.

RACHAEL RAY, CELEBRITY COOK, TELEVISION PERSONALITY, AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR OF RACHAEL RAY IN SEASON

I Tell Other Moms…

“Ask for help when you need it.” There may be natural mothers out there, supermoms who always know the right thing to do, but I’m not one of them.

MEGAN MCARTHUR, NASA ASTRONAUT; DEPUTY CHIEF OF THE ASTRONAUT OFFICE, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION OPERATIONS BRANCH; AND MOM OF ONE

Mom Said…

“Surround yourself with people who are loving and supportive.” My daughter is 4 and already comes home feeling left out, so I encourage her to look for the friends who treat her well and want to spend time with her.

HANNAH SKVARLA, COFOUNDER OF THE LITTLE MARKET AND MOM OF TWO

I Tell My Kid…

“Treat every day as if it’s special.” I tell my daughter that she should wear her favorite piece—an oversize leopard-print cardigan—as often as possible and not to save it for a special occasion. Beautiful clothing should be worn often because of the magical way it makes you feel.

VERONICA SHEAFFER, FASHION DESIGNER AND MOM OF ONE

Mom Said…

“It’s about how your clothes fit—forget the number!” Every August, we went back-to-school shopping, and she encouraged me to choose anything to express myself (color on color on color!) and to bring those items into the fitting room in multiple sizes. I not only tried all sizes but also followed my mom’s commands to sit, squat, and walk to make sure the fit was spot-on. These department-store calisthenics were deeply embarrassing, but my clothes sure did fit right. Remember—no one sees the number but you, and a great-fitting garment will always be more figure-flattering than a size 6 you have to squeeze into.

KATHRYN SUKEY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF DESIGN AT DRAPER JAMES AND MOM OF TWO

Mom Said…

“Remember that not everyone will love your children like you will—so make the extra effort to raise them in a way that the world will love. Raise good humans.”

SARAH FREY, FARMER AND AUTHOR OF THE GROWING SEASON: HOW I SAVED AN AMERICAN FARM—AND BUILT A NEW LIFE (OUT IN JUNE). SHE IS THE YOUNGEST OF 21 KIDS AND A MOM OF TWO.

Mom Said…

“Don’t dream your life; live your life.” She said it so many times when I was growing up that I even wrote it down on a vision board I keep on my desk. I repeat it to myself when I’m getting ready for a big event.

MÉLANIE HEYBERGER, COFOUNDER OF RACHEL, A HOSIERY BRAND

Best Dressed

My mother always dressed in clean, classic pieces, and that influences the way I dress today. I take chances now and then, but I always feel most put-together in simple, well-fitting garments in neutral colors.

LAUREN CONRAD, FASHION DESIGNER, COFOUNDER OF THE LITTLE MARKET, AND MOM OF TWO

FEELING HOMEY

Mom Said…

“Be environmentally friendly.” She made it important to our family before it was a hot topic. We recycled, shut lights off when not in use, and were mindful of not overconsuming and creating a ton of waste.

MELISSA MAKER, FOUNDER OF CLEAN MY SPACE AND MOM OF ONE

I Tell My Kids…

“We value you.” To show them, we have family photos everywhere: a big gallery in the living room, snapshots taped up in the kitchen, and framed pictures in our bedrooms.

JOANNA GODDARD, CREATOR OF THE SITE A CUP OF JO AND MOM OF TWO

Mom Said…

“Store like with like.” When I was small, my mother found my shoes in the middle of the floor, so she picked them up and proceeded to have a one-sided conversation, soothing the “crying” shoes and apologizing for my “abandoning” them so far from their shoe “families” in the closet. Certainly, the lesson was vivid!

JULIE BESTRY, CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER AND FOUNDER OF BEST RESULTS ORGANIZING

I Tell My Kids…

“Every day, do a little something.” I teach them we have to clean up after ourselves daily. Then they aren’t overwhelmed by disaster bedrooms.

BECKY RAPINCHUK, FOUNDER OF CLEAN MAMA, AUTHOR OF CLEAN MAMA’S GUIDE TO A HEALTHY HOME, AND MOM OF THREE

Mom Said…

My mom taught me to always use the good stuff. That meant using nice china and real silver on a daily basis. Why have it if it sits in a cabinet most of the year?

REBECCA ATWOOD, DESIGNER, AUTHOR OF LIVING WITH COLOR, AND MOM OF ONE

Mom Said…

“Sweep the kitchen floor every night after doing dishes. Then turn off the lights and ‘close’ the kitchen. Not only can you go longer between moppings, it’s good for your waistline.”

DONNA SMALLIN KUPER, CERTIFIED HOUSECLEANING TECHNICIAN, AUTHOR OF CLEAR THE CLUTTER, FIND THE HAPPINESS, AND MOM OF THREE

Mom Said…

“Great design doesn’t need to cost a fortune, as long as it reflects who you are.” That’s what makes it special. Oh, and make your bed every day!

TANIYA NAYAK, DESIGNER, FOUNDER OF TANIYA NAYAK DESIGN, AND FEATURED DESIGNER ON FOOD NETWORK’S RESTAURANT: IMPOSSIBLE

Mom Said…

My mom and dad publicly praised each other every day and taught us to do the same. “Doesn’t your mother make the best stroganoff?” Or “Kids, I love your mother so much.” And Mom would always say, “You have the best dad in the world.” My husband and I absolutely do this. I think it makes the kids feel really safe and creates such a positive vibe in our home.

EMILY HENDERSON, DESIGNER AND MOM OF TWO

Mom Said…

“Never buy anything full-price.” My mom will find a coupon for anything under the sun to avoid paying full-price.

LESLIE CORONA, SENIOR ASSOCIATE HOME EDITOR AT REAL SIMPLE

Mom Said…

My mother has always celebrated and taught me about the beauty of different cultures. Because of her, I love to incorporate things from diverse cultures into my spaces.

JUSTINA BLAKENEY, DESIGNER, AUTHOR OF THE NEW BOHEMIANS: COOL & COLLECTED HOMES, AND MOM OF ONE

I Tell My Kids…

I like to teach my young children to always be financially curious. I want to communicate to them that being interested in money and wanting to talk about it is both normal and healthy.

FARNOOSH TORABI, HOST OF SO MONEY, AUTHOR OF WHEN SHE MAKES MORE, AND MOM OF TWO