Michelle Obama's Mother Leads Daughter's Fan Club

04/07/2009 at 10:35 AM EDT

Michelle Obama's Mother Leads Daughter's Fan Club
Marian Robinson and Michelle Obama
A mother's pride shines through as Marian Robinson speaks about the historic role now being played on the world's stage by her daughter, Michelle Obama.

While Robinson, 71, admits that what Obama, 45, faces is "overwhelming," the "first mother-in-law" also tells the May issue of Essence, on sale Friday, "I never doubted that she could do this. She is doing it with such grace and dignity. So I am just proud. I just hope she does what she wants to do."

In one touching – and amusing – revelation, when asked what her late husband, Fraser Robinson II, would make of this particular moment in history starring his very own offspring, Robinson replies: 
"You would not be able to shut him up! He would not be able to stand this. He would be beaming until you would just want him to stop talking."

Robinson says her husband, "bragged about Michelle and her brother, Craig, before they had even done anything. He always encouraged them, and when he talked about Craig and Michelle, you could just see a smile on his face whether it was there or not. He just enjoyed these two people."

Tender and Protective

The joint interview with the First Lady and Robinson – who resides with the Obamas in order to smooth the transition into Washington life for her granddaughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10 – took place in Michelle Obama's office inside the White House. Essence's editor-in-chief, Angela Burt-Murray, posed the questions and also observed the natural affection between the two women, who shared private jokes and were also very tender and protective of one another during their photo shoot.

As told by Obama, that mother-daughter dynamic has always been in place. 
"I always felt that my father and my mother were unconditionally rooting for me," says the First Lady. "And kids need that. Looking back, that played such a huge role in building confidence in me and my brother very early. Whether we succeeded or failed, we had two people who lifted us up and supported us. There was never anything that I could imagine that I would need that they wouldn't bend over backward to make sure that we had."

Having that "sense of security," says Obama, "allows you to take risks. People think that it comes from wealth or generations of access and success, but it doesn't. The security of your parents' love really gives you the foundation to think that you can fly. And then you do."

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