Oh, don't pretend like you don't have one!
My mother, Margarette, is the
most extraordinary woman I know. First and foremost, she is a wife and mother. She has been married to my father, Gommaire, for 35 years now (yay for
true love!) and they have raised four kids: Christine (myself), 29, Pascal, 28,
Sarah, 24, and Cassandra, 21.
In addition to being the ultimate
wife and mother, she was also a teacher that obtained a Master’s degree in school counseling while working a second job by night, and she made it to church every Sunday. My mother and father never missed a play, a spelling bee, a piano or guitar recital, or the
endless gymnastics competitions. She helped us with our first math equations and with studying for state exams in high school--the reasons why we were all able to attend
and graduate from accredited colleges and universities on scholarships.
we didn’t have the money for expensive clothes and shoes, we sure looked like
we did! She did it all, of course with the help of Poppy (aka Dad), and still made a home-cooked meal for six at
the end of the day, every night, like a boss.
She is an all around queen
and the superwoman I strive to be.
She has taught us many things as we became adults in the Michel household. I was going to just write my own
experience of what my mother taught me growing up and what she continues to
teach me to this day, but then I remembered: I have three younger siblings
with different experiences and different stories to tell!
Our personalities are so unique
and we are still insanely close. Like Cosby Show close. (I call Denise!) So I
asked each of them to write firsthand experiences of what they learned from
our mother in honor of Mother’s Day.
I am my parents’ first-born
child. For the first few years of their marriage, my parents were unable to conceive
children, and my mom had six miscarriages. Under doctor’s orders, my parents were
to stop trying but they believed God had other plans--and then I was born. YAY! My
name was actually derived from the Bible, (Jesus Christ, anyone?) and after I
came into the world, my parents were blessed with three more children.
Before magazine articles and YouTube videos, there was my mom, my own personal beauty and hair guru;
a hat among many that she wore. I did as the women in my life did. My mother
and aunt modeled and were their own glam squad. Word spread, and they had a
roster of clients, doing hair and makeup for women for special occasions such
as fancy weddings and crazy birthday parties at a disco to the everyday wash-and-set
in my grandparents' basement.
They could do it all: relaxers, hot rollers,
haircare for natural-textured hair, Jheri curl, faux buns, high buns--the
list goes on. They even sold makeup for Mary Kay for years. I saw all of this and wanted to know it all; I saw
the talent mother had and shared with the black women in our community.
From kindergarten to high school, I was usually the only black
person in my class. I would see the white girls in my
class with long, flowing ponytails, doing each other’s hair or sharing
makeup, and I always felt left out. I wanted their hair and their skin tone. I
wanted someone to be able to play with my hair and not just ask to pet me. What about my hair? Can I wear red lipstick, too? (I was told by a girl in school that I could not.)
One day, I was going to the
mall with some friends and the windows of the bus were open, and while all of
them had hair blowing in the wind as if in a music video, mine didn’t do as
theirs did. One girl asked me “what
was wrong with" my hair. When I got home, I cried to my mother
asking her why I wasn’t like my friends at school. I hated that I had to sit for hours to get braids done. Why did it hurt so
much to get my hair combed or brushed? Why couldn’t I just wash my hair and put
it in a ponytail and go about my business like my friends?
My mother’s response: I am beautiful the way I am. My hair was
gorgeous and so was my dark skin, and she taught me that the only person I can
be is myself. She taught me to love people for who they are, not what they
look like. My friends were beautiful, and
so was I. No one person was better than the next. We learn from our friends and
surroundings; we don’t become them. We each have something unique to add to the
world we live in.
Those were the
best words my mother taught me about beauty.
My mom taught me how to wear any
lipstick color I wanted to. When prom came along, she suggested a
gold sparkly dress to compliment my honey complexion. No, I
couldn’t style or maintain my hair the same as my friends and classmates, but
she taught me how to take care of my kinky coils, as well as a variety
of different hairdos I could achieve with my texture.
What my mother taught me
about beauty is to love the skin I’m in. I have the most diverse group of
friends, but my
mother taught me to embrace my culture, my Haitian heritage, my textured hair, and
my dark brown skin. I think that is where my love of doing hair came from.
Y’all can thank my Margarette for most of what I write here on
xoVain because she was my teacher.
I am the only boy amongst my
When I was a child, my mother used to
give me haircuts in our salon-styled basement. We didn’t have a lot, but my
parents made sure to make the best of what we did have.
We couldn’t afford
weekly trips to the barbershop, and I remember hating the fact that
she even had to give me a haircut. It’s my mom! My cousins and friends around
the neighborhood always had a cool fade, while I was only allowed what she
could do for me. I have textured curly hair, so my mother had to learn which razors and
blades worked best for my hair. As much of a master as she was at doing hair for women
and having a fan base that would constantly return for more of her artistry and
expertise, my mother really tried her best and eventually learned how to cut my
As I got older, those haircuts became a weekly event. Soon, she was
cutting my father’s hair as well as mine, and my aunt got in on it for her
sons, too. When the time came for me to go to college, I took the reins and learned
from her and began to cut my own hair.
Today, I have the luxury of being able
to get my hair cut at my go-to barbershop here in Brooklyn, but I don’t want to
forget what I learned from my mother, and I still go through the whole process of
cutting my hair myself.
When Christine asked me to
write something my mother taught me about beauty (I read all my sisters
articles and support her 150%), I said to her “How does this involve me?” I
really had to think. I've learned an abundance of life lessons from my mom:
lessons about love, lessons I learned just being around four women in my house
and seeing what they go through, lessons I learned observing my parents and the
family they raised, etc. But I can honestly say that the beauty lesson of her showing me how to cut
my own hair is one I will never
Looking back, I should've been more appreciative of my
mother for taking the time to teach me and having the patience along the way to
cut my hair once a week on top of everything else she did. Today, I'm very thankful to her for not only being an amazing
mother and doing this for me, but also for the fact that she tried for her son
when we didn't have a lot means even more. I love my mom.
Growing up, I always felt like the ugly duckling in comparison to my two sisters and brother. They
each had the perfect smile, the perfect skin, the perfect everything! I, on the other hand, felt plagued with imperfections: a gap in my smile, eczema
all over my body, and bowlegs as a child that led
to teasing and being called Forrest Gump by heartless children (and adults)
since I was confined to corrective leg braces to help correct my condition.
Although the constant ridicule of my peers caused tears to
fall, my mother was there to wipe every one of them by continuously
reminding me of the beauty of my spirit, assuring me that I have the ability to
uplift anyone in my orbit.
I hadn't realized the impact my mother’s
words had in my life until I reflected and accepted what God gave me, accepted who
I was, and learned to embrace it. It was because of my mother’s love, words, and
constant reassurance that I learned of the aura of my inner beauty, channeling it
to those around me in my walk through life. This is the best
beauty advice my mother has ever given me. Hands down.
Not only is she a wise
woman to put courage and strength in me when I was at my lowest, she also
taught me how to save money when we had none and was the pioneer in our house
for bargain beauty shopping. I went to an all-girls school, just like my
sisters, and while most girls around me drove BMWs while wearing expensive
makeup and clothing, we didn’t have the luxury. So when I started wearing makeup, my mother taught me beauty tips that
worked for me: taking care of my skin condition and owning it (a freakum dress
is always welcome, eczema be damned), always have your hair and nails
Another important beauty lesson my
mother taught me is that it's important to smile, because if you ever come
across someone who feels that his or her world is crumbling, your smile is contagious.
A dentist just recently asked me after
a routine check-up to fix the gap in my tooth and my response was “No, thank you.” I love my smile! I love my spirit and my personality. I accept my flaws and
will do nothing to change them. The gap in my tooth is what makes me who I am
and I love it. So with this gap toothed smile, I always make it a point to make
sure my lips are hooked up and poppin'.
I'm a teacher in a public school in Brooklyn, and I use the lessons my mother taught me as a child and to this day on my own students, reminding them of the beauty they have inside. It’s not about what you want or desire; it’s about what you have and what to make of it.
So for combining both the inner beauty
lessons and my affordable beauty tips, thanks to my dope mom.
Being the youngest, I always looked up to my older siblings in so many ways. I learned
from them just like I learned from the adults around me. I am thankful to have
so many different teachers and mentors in my family.
My siblings were smart,
pretty, popular and talented in many ways that I wasn’t. They had academic
scholarships and played instruments, and sometimes I felt
like the odd one out between the four of us. I didn’t do well in school as
easily as they did. I felt I always had to work harder than they did, and it
made me feel low.
I might not have been the smartest, but my parents
saw that my talents were different than my older brother and sisters, and they taught
me how to channel my creative energy in different ways.
One way was through
gymnastics, where I received an opportunity to train with one of the best
trainers in Brooklyn on a full scholarship from the ages 6 to 20. While working
two jobs, my mother would pick me up from school to take me to gymnastics, only to then pick me up after her second job and take me home
when the day was done. This just made me want to better at my craft, seeing the
dedication she and my father put into getting me to do what I love and what I
was good at.
One day, I was doodling in my notebook on
the drive home and she saw I had a gift with colors and art. When she realized
my talent, she taught me to embrace it and to put it to use. I couldn’t read
music, but art was my outlet and as I got older, and doing makeup became a passion, too.
My mom began to tell me stories of growing up in the '70s and she showed me tips and tricks for that time period that I love to use in my beauty
regimen today. She taught me about beauty, how to use a palette, how
to mix colors and how to use my gift with art in my working with makeup.
an injury last year, I am unable to do gymnastics until I fully recover, but my
art and my makeup are my everything. I went from doodling to sketching and oil
painting to being a self-taught makeup artist. I used the techniques my mother
taught me, her words of inspiration and encouragement to turn a hobby into a
It felt great to have girls come to me to get their makeup done for a
date or for their prom. My older sisters and other women in my family are
coming to me to get their makeup done, too! For once, they are learning from
I will always be the youngest and may not be
as vocal and out going as my older siblings, but my mother taught me that I
always have a voice with the talents I was blessed with.
When it comes to
beauty, I am just like my mother when she was my age. Thanks to the encouraging words and support from my mother, my art will
always be a part of me, and I can beat a face like nobody’s business.