Republicans have long fought to be the party of “family values,” but Michelle Obama believes Democrats are ready to take on the pro-family mantle – and to back up that talk with action.
Despite a grueling travel schedule, Michelle Obama is first and foremost a devoted parent. She’s intent on keeping her children grounded while also supporting her husband’s campaign and withstanding intense media scrutiny.
Babble caught up with Mrs. Obama as she visited with working mothers in Virginia. She came off as honest, down-to-earth and proud to be a wife, mother and leader in her own right. We spoke about work-home balance, her secret vice, and why she feels a victory for her husband is a victory for the American family. – Anita Doberman
As a working mother, what sort of sacrifices have you made for your children and your husband? What sacrifices has he made for you?
As every working mother understands, there will always be hard choices that must be made to keep our families happy and whole. But I don’t see these choices as sacrifices. I’m happy to make them. Someone has to be focusing on the kids, making them feel safe and grounded, and that’s me. And I love that job.
Everything that Barack and I do – all the choices we make – are for the benefit of our two little girls. Barack spends the majority of his time away from his family, on the road, because he is determined to change Washington, so that instead of just talking about family values, we actually implement policies that value families.
He is working every day so that our children – and all of our country’s children – will grow up healthy and safe, in a world where they can pursue their dreams without anything standing in their way.
How have you managed to balance career and family?
Like the women I’ve met across the country, I play many different roles. I’m a wife, a working woman, a daughter, a sister, and a best friend. But most importantly, I’m a mom. No matter where I am – at work, on the campaign trail, you name it – my girls are always on my mind.
Finding a balance between all of these roles is something that I’ve dealt with throughout my marriage. Barack and I know that we’re lucky to have access to the resources we need to hold it together during all of this wonderful chaos.
And Barack and I know that we’re particularly lucky to have the greatest resource anyone could have – my mother, who lives nearby and stays with the girls when I’m on the road for my husband. But we know that many families across America aren’t that lucky. That’s why as president, Barack will make supporting families a priority.
You’ve lost your ability to be anonymous rather quickly. What are the pros and cons of being a sudden celebrity?
I’m grateful for the attention, because it lets me be a stronger voice for working women and military families. I can bring the issues that are important to them to the forefront of a national political discussion. It’s a great gift.
What is the hardest thing you have to do as a mother, especially on the campaign trail?
My staff has been excellent about honoring my commitment to my girls. Still, spending time out on the road instead of at home with them is the hardest thing about campaigning. Whether I’m in Chicago or on the road, they’re always on my mind, from the moment I wake up in the morning until right before I fall asleep at night.
What does your husband depend on you for?
Holding everything together and keeping our home in order while he’s away. We’re each other’s best friends and closest advisors.
“Barack is a wonderful partner, husband and father.” How are the children taking all the changes, and do you try to insulate them?
Barack and I are very proud of the way the girls have handled themselves during this campaign. Luckily, they’re still at an age where they’re not that concerned with what’s happening with the campaign. When they come home in the afternoons, they don’t want to know how my day went – it’s more like: “Let me tell you what happened at camp today.” There are these two wonderful little people who run around our house and keep us grounded.
We protect them the best as we can. We’re figuring it out. We’ve gotten some great advice from people like Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore, who have been in this situation before and handled it wonderfully.
What is your favorite thing about your husband?
There really isn’t just one thing. Barack is a wonderful partner, husband and father.
What is the thing you wish the media would stop asking and what do you wish the media would focus on instead?
I wish that the media wouldn’t get distracted by the petty campaign back-and-forth and negative attacks. I’d rather they pay more attention to the issues that matter most to hard-working Americans, like skyrocketing gas and food prices, access to quality and affordable health care, bringing the war in Iraq to a responsible end, creating great schools, and policies that help parents figure out the work-life balance.
In an Obama Presidency, what’s the one food you’d make sure is well stocked at the White House?
French fries – they’re my ultimate weakness!