INTERVIEWER
Did you have fun growing up?

WASSERSTEIN
I did because my mother was eccentric.

I always dream of what it will be like to be a mother. Will I be strict? Playful? Stressed? What excites and terrifies me most are what parts of myself –my eccentricities, my philosophies, my beliefs –will consciously or unconsciously rub off on my children. What ways of thinking and being will mold and shape my daughter or son? What will they remember and what will they forget?

We live our lives for ourselves…until we have children. Then we live for someone else. And I assume we will sometimes forget that someone is always there, always watching and learning and growing, in accordance to what we are doing. It’s scary as it is beautiful.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always been intrigued about what women remember. I love hearing other women’s stories about their mothers because at this point they aren’t just memories, but insights into who they are now because of it.

My mother gave me my guts…She was so gutsy, you know. She wasn’t this frail little thing everyone likes to think she was. She had cahones, man!

– Liza Minelli (on her mother, Judy Garland)

I get whatever placidity I have from my father. But my mother taught me how to take it on the chin. – Norma Shearer

Good food and a warm kitchen are what makes a house a home. I always tried to make my home like my mother’s, because Mom was magnificent at stretching a buck when it came to decorating and food. Like a true Italian, she valued beautification in every area of her life, and I try to do the same. – Rachael Ray

My mother believed in curses, karma, good luck, bad luck, feng shui. Her amorphous set of beliefs showed me you can pick and choose the qualities of your philosophy, based on what works for you. – Amy Tan

My mother was a courageous woman, and she had such tremendous love for life. She loved the natural world. She would wake us up in the middle of the night to go look at the moon. When I was a teenager, this was a source of great frustration because I wanted to sleep. – Maya Soetoro-Ng

My mother always taught us that if people don’t agree with you, the important thing is to listen to them. But if you’ve listened to them carefully and you still think that you’re right, then you must have the courage of your convictions. – Jane Goodall

I think my mother… made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected. – Caroline Kennedy

My mom and I would sit and meticulously go through Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell lyrics together. Even from a young age I remembered her being llke, “I”m playing this Leonard Cohen song called ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ and when it’s done I want you to tell me what’s going on in it.” She would give me like a fake glass of wine when I was 8, and I would listen and be like “I think there was an affair.” – Carly Rae Jepsen

I was preppy, then suddenly switched around age 14. I asked my mother to go to this vintage store, and she let me buy a leopard swing coat, pink cigarette pants, and lime-green gloves. – Kate Spade

My mother would say to me, “When I’m gone, do not throw anything away — use it.” It was the core of my mother’s belief that we should be repurposing, avoiding waste and always considering the environment. My mother was organic way before it was chic. She had a vegetable garden, and a yard with chickens and roosters in Beverly Hills. She composted long before anyone knew what it was. She said any manure that was flung at her in life, whether verbal or otherwise would help her fertilize for the future. – Kitt McDonald (on Eartha Kitt)

When I was a little girl, I watched all old movies. My mother liked old movies, and she loved shopping for antiques, so I was around old things all the time. – Dita Von Teese

My mother would say, ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.’ I spent a lot of my early years preparing for beautiful moments that have unfolded in my life so far. – Dianne Reeves

My mother used to play nothing but Billie Holiday. – Etta James

She showed great independence and great taste early on in her career as an artist wanting to expand her repertoire…and that’s why she wrote the letter to the man who would become my father. [Introducing herself to Rossellini, she famously wrote: “If you need a Swedish actress who speaks English very well, who has not forgotten her German, who is not very understandable in French, and who, in Italian knows only ‘Ti amo’, I am ready to come and make a film with you.”] – Isabella Rosellini (on Ingrid Bergman)

Lauren Martin
Just another girl in the world...and founder of Words of Women

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