Something I found to work well for me without using gel over it is the Shea Moisture Curling Souffle (even though that's what it's called, the application directions refer to it as a gel). This is the only store-bought product my hair will let me use without putting something else over the top. It smells delicious, it's all natural ingredients, and it's only I think $12 for a tub of it. I use it without a leave-in because the ingredients are already moisturizing, and I run some coconut oil (just a smidge or it looks greasy) over the top to help tame down my frizzies and soften my hair a little. I use the AG Recoil, but this is more like a cream and not so much like a gel. It doesn't give me any hold at all - it just separates my curls so they aren't clumpy. Kinky Curly Curling Custard might be good if you don't need much hold for your hair. I can't use this without gel, but some curlies with fine hair are able to.
If your mom would be willing to let you order something online that's a bit more expensive you might want to investigate the Curl Junkie line. The Aloe Fix is awesome and is another product I can use without anything else over the top. But it does say "gel" on the label and it's $22 brand new (but you can try checking the swap board if you are able, and maybe someone would be willing to sell for less). Curl Junkie's Curls in a Bottle has a light hold, but hold all the same. It's labeled as a "styling solution". I use it over all kinds of things to keep the frizz at bay.
Other things I have seen on the boards but haven't tried personally are Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper (available online), Mop-C Curl Cream (available at ULTA), Giovanni Air Turbo Mousse (available at Target, Walgreens, etc), Jason Curl Defining Cream (may be available at Walgreens, or available online), and Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control (available online). You could also try doing a google search for curl creams with hold to see if anything comes up that your mom might be OK with you trying out.
Hopefully that helps some and at least gets you headed in the right direction. Good luck and hang in there!