Rockin’ Momma vs. Soulful Daughter
Wambui Bahati, 55, singer "Ever since I joined a community theater as a kid, I have been a belter, like Tina Turner. Over the years, I’ve performed at the Kennedy Center and on Broadway. Marie always teases me that I don’t do harmonies well, that I have to be the star — it’s probably why she has only performed with me once. When she was little, I was getting ready to sing on TV, and she said, ‘Please, just don’t do the snake dance.’"
Marie Blondina, 23, musician and student "There was always music playing in our house, but unlike the raunchy, loud stuff that my mom likes, I listened to soft rock. And while she loves to wear tight rocker pants, I tend to go for turtlenecks, which my mother hates. She thinks you’re supposed to show off your collarbone. It’s not in her nature to blend in, and it’s not in mine to work the stage. But even though we’re totally different, I’m proud of her. I admire her spunk."
Action Figure vs. Mother Figure
Jodi Taylor, 57, leadership-development consultant "I’d been raised to believe in God, country, and apple pie — then I got a job in the Texas State Legislature and saw how politics really worked. I started going to rallies, and always made it a point to show my kids how the rest of the world lived. Despite this, Elana was a traditionalist, who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. When she was 11, I took her to a non-resort area of Mexico. There were open sewers and flies, and she just said, ‘I’m going to be sick.’ Once my kids were older, I took on more causes, including women’s rights, through the Centre for Development and Population Activities. And it seems Elana is coming around. She recently wrote a college essay about that life-changing trip to Mexico."
Elana Schoninger, 33, mother and student "Mom was always sincerely aware of other people. When she started working for CEDPA, she came back from a trip to Egypt with heart-wrenching stories. But well into my 20s, I was much more concerned with fitting in. I got married at 25, and when I complained about paying taxes, she said we were fortunate to live in this country. It took the birth of my first daughter to realize she was right. Now, I’m more like my mom, though I’ll never be as outspoken. A friend recently told me how, because of her, he’d learned to see the world differently."
Trailblazer vs. Creature of Comfort
Arlene Blum, 60, biophysical chemist and author"I started climbing in 1964 because of a handsome guy. In 1978, I led the first American ascent of Nepal’s Annapurna I, the tenth-highest peak in the world. When my daughter was a baby, I carried her from hut to hut across the Alps. I was even more excited when she turned 11, and we were roped together for the first time — but she hated it. People used to say, ‘Wait until she’s older.’ Now, I hear, ‘She’s a teenager; they don’t like anything.’ I still climb every year, but I’d do it even more if Annalise liked it. Of course, if I have a speaking engagement, and they’re putting me up at a nice hotel, she’s happy to tag along."
Annalise Blum, 18, student "When I was with my mother in the Austrian Alps, I was absolutely miserable. After we spent hours crossing a glacier, falling into deep snow, there was a small avalanche, and we had to rappel down a cliff. I’ll go hiking with her, but I refuse to do anything that scary ever again. I actually wasn’t impressed that my mom was a famous climber until I read her last book, Breaking Trail. There are these insane stories of her dangling in crevices, and running around on a mountain where people were dying. She had told me some of this, but it was more powerful to see on the page. People say, ‘Your mom is so great.’ When they ask if I’m going to be a climber, I say, ‘It’s not my thing.’ But I’m proud of her."
Wild Woman vs. Mild Child
Jamie Zuckor Olarte, 28, sales executive "For her 50th birthday, my mother decided that she wanted to do something memorable. So off we went to get matching tattoos. Every time she visits me, she turns 21 again. We go out drinking with my friends — and she’s the one who gets hit on by guys my age. She’s very easygoing, so I’ve always been able to talk to her. Most of my friends don’t have that kind of relationship with their mothers, so it has not only made me appreciative but open-minded."
Susan Dale Zuckor, 53, owner of a consulting business "My husband thought I was nuts when I got the tattoo, but it’s my little badge of courage. Besides, it was a great bonding experience to have with Jamie. I’ve always stressed how important it is to be open with each other, since I have the opposite relationship with my mother. Jamie is also an overachiever, so she needs a little fun in her life. Sure, I have friends with whom I can act out, but there aren’t too many of them. With Jamie, I can do anything."