“Behind every great woman…is another great woman”
While that phrase may be said jokingly, it is definitely true in the case of former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama’s mom turned 84 years old on July 30th and the former First Lady couldn’t be prouder. To express her appreciation of her mom, Obama took to Twitter to post a heartfelt message.
Mrs. Obama proudly tweeted a picture of herself with her mom, Marian Robinson, along with a note.
“Happy birthday to the woman who taught me how to think for myself, use my voice, and show up authentically in this world,” she began. “Your belief that I mattered, even when I was just a little girl, led me to where I am today. Thank you for being the ultimate role model. Love you, mom!”
Obama describes her mother as forthright and honest, and speaks of her implacability and her silent support for Obama throughout her childhood and beyond.
Mrs. Robinson worked at a bank, at the University of Chicago, and as a secretary at the Spiegel catalog company. Then, in 1960, she married Mrs. Obama’s dad, Fraser Robinson III, a pump worker at Chicago’s water plant.
Robinson used to take her daughter. Mrs. Obama, to the library long before she started school and used to sit beside her as she learned to read and write. Usually the kind of mother who expected her children to settle their own disputes, Robinson was quick to see real distress and stepped in to help when needed. For example, when Michelle was in second grade and was distressed because of being devalued by a teacher, Robinson advocated for her and was instrumental in getting her daughter better learning opportunities at school. Robinson encouraged her children to communicate with her about all subjects by being available when needed and giving practical advice. She entertained Michelle’s school friends when they visited and enabled her to make her own choices in important matters.
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Not only did Mrs. Obama, 57, celebrate her mother’s day of birth, other Twitter users joined in on the celebration, with one user replying to the tweet, “dear Ms. Obama.., please wish your dear, sweet Momma a super happy and fantastic birthday from me. Tell her, her light shines so brightly, it could ALWAYS be seen, even while standing behind a first phenomenal family. She’s just that special!!!”
“When we were growing up, she always gave us the space to ask questions and share our ideas,” Michelle wrote of her mom on Instagram. “And she always took us seriously, carefully considering what we had to say and responding with thoughtful questions, and plenty of encouragement.”
“All along, she was empowering us to be ourselves, kindling the unique flame burning inside each of us,” Obama continued.
Her mom saw in her “tenacity, a stubbornness, a sassiness — a flame. It wasn’t a flame she’d ever lay claim to sparking, and she certainly never tried to douse it either. My brother, Craig, had his own flame, different and slightly cooler than mine. My parents gave his fire, too, the oxygen it needed to grow.”
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“Growing up, every time I’d come home from school with a story to share, my mother was there with a snack and a listening ear to hear about what was on my mind. When I came home with a tale about my disastrous second-grade classroom, she marched into the school to figure out what was going on. And as I grew older, including up through my years as First Lady, she was always there for me as a guiding light through whatever fog was clouding my path. She’s always listened more than she lectured; observed more than she demonstrated. In doing so, she allowed me to think for myself and develop my own voice.”
Her mom’s upbringing plays a major part in how she raised her own daughter’s Malia and Sasha.
“She laid out the blueprint for how I have raised my own girls.”
“I see now how important that kind of freedom is for all children, particularly for girls with flames of their own — flames the world might try to dim. I know that not every girl is like me, including my own daughters,” Obama wrote. “Malia and Sasha both have