Women's Empowerment

After Moving Back Home With My Mom at Age 28, Our Relationship Took on New Meaning

Zoe Weiner

Photo: W+G Creative
Who has inspired you? Challenged you? Shaped you? In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing the women who made us who we are today. To all who came before, the mothers, grandmothers, mentors, teachers, and trailblazers… thank you. Here, Well+Good beauty and fitness editor Zoe Weiner expresses gratitude to her mom.

Dear Mom,

Our relationship has never exactly been a normal mother-daughter one. You were the person who took me to get birth control for the first time, who held my hair back when I was a dumb teenager discovering vodka (and who then grounded me for a month), and who let me literally cry on her shoulder whenever a boy broke my heart. You were the cool parent who made midnight pasta for my friends and me when we came home after curfew,  and who wore a gold leather tube top to chaperone us to the Britney Spears concert when we were 12. From the time I was a little girl, you have toed the line between “mom” and “best friend.” And now that I’m all grown up, that’s taken on an entirely new meaning.

After Dad died five years ago, you were suddenly on your own for the first time in nearly three decades. I’ll never forget the day shortly after the funeral when you looked at me and said, “We’re all each other has now.” The entire dynamic of our family changed overnight, but through it all, you were the glue that kept us all from falling apart. Even when things felt impossibly hard, you just kept going, and held yourself together with grace, strength, and courage.

In the years since we lost Dad, I’ve gotten to witness firsthand what it means to pick yourself up in the wake of tragedy, and am in awe every day that I get to watch you live your life on your own.

The fact that we’re all “each other has” was part of what inspired me to move home to be with you at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew you didn’t need me (you are, and always have been, just fine on your own), but there was something that felt so rare and special about the thought of getting to re-establish our relationship as adults.

For an entire year, we lived together as two single, independent women, and I am so grateful for every minute we got to spend together watching bad TV, eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s, and snuggling with the twin pandemic puppies we somehow talked each other into bringing home. As always, you were there for me in a way that no one else ever has been. You calmed me down during my weekly (okay, daily) COVID-related panic attacks, made me dinner every night the same way you did when I was a kid, and did everything in your power to make sure my life was as happy and comfortable as possible. You never once complained about how much I needed you—even when that meant rubbing my back while I cried in your bed, or helping me break down hundreds upon hundreds of boxes of beauty products I was sent to test (the “perks” of being a beauty editor)—and even though we were two independent adult roommates, you somehow managed to still be my mom.

You’ve always encouraged me to take risks, be independent, and live life on my own terms, exactly the way you always have.

You used to joke that I was your “mini me,” and even before it was just us, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be like you, the most confident, glamorous, and all-around unique human being I’ve ever known. You’ve always encouraged me to take risks, be independent, and live life on my own terms, exactly the way you always have.

You moved to New York and traveled the world in your 20s, so I moved to New York and traveled the world in my 20s, too. You waited until your late 30s to get married, and that’s always been a part of my life plan. You have been the best mom a young woman could ever ask for, and I can only hope to one day follow in those footsteps.

You’ve never questioned my decisions, and didn’t bat an eye when I called you to tell you I was jumping out of an airplane or hopping on the back of some guy’s motorcycle in Chile, because those were exactly the types of things that you did when you were my age. You are so unapologetically yourself—you’re the only person I know who would pierce her belly button in honor of her 50th birthday and match her outfits to her toy poodle—and the confidence with which you carry yourself is nothing short of awe-inspiring. To know you is to love you, and I am so grateful to be able to love and learn from you every single day.

To put it simply, you are, and always have been, my person. You’re the first one I want to call when I have good news, when I need advice, or when I need a plus one to go on a romantic vacation with. There is no one on this planet who makes me laugh harder, who I have more fun with, and who pushes me to be the absolute best version of myself. And while I knew all of this when I was 15, at 30, it feels a whole lot more special.

Looking for more Strong As Her? Check out these letters from chronic illness advocate Nitika Chopra and Emmy-Award-winning broadcast journalist Mara Schiavocampo

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