Former first lady Michelle Obama paid homage to her mother Marian Robinson on Sunday, calling her “a sweet, witty companion” who “listened a lot more than she lectured.”
In excerpts published on Mother’s Day from an essay penned for People magazine’s upcoming issue, Obama praised Robinson’s parenting, stating that “when it came to raising her kids, my mom knew that her voice was less important than allowing me to use my own.”
“Growing up, she was willing to endure endless questioning from me,” Obama recalled. “Why did we have to eat eggs for breakfast? Why do people need jobs? Why are the houses bigger in other neighborhoods? She didn’t chide me if I scrapped with some of the neighbor kids or challenged my ornery grandfather when I thought he was being a little too ornery.”
While she noted that by today’s standards, critics may call her mother’s somewhat hands-off parenting style too lenient, Obama explained that “the reality was far from that.”
“She and my father, Fraser, were wholly invested in their children, pouring a deep and durable foundation of goodness and honesty, of right and wrong, into my brother and me,” she said. “After that, they simply let us be ourselves.”
Obama echoed the kind words for Robinson in an Instagram post, sharing a photo of the two between her daughters, Malia and Sasha ― three generations in one image.
“From an early age, she saw that I had a flame inside me, and she never tempered it,” Obama wrote. “She made sure that I could keep it lit. Mom, thank you for kindling that fire within me, and for your example as a mother and a grandmother to our girls.”
Obama’s full essay in People will hit the shelves on Friday.