A really nice interview of Michelle Obama by Oprah. Maybe you caught it already. I just read it for the first time and thought I’d share it for those who haven’t read it. Here are some excerpts:
On the responsibilities of women these days:
Oprah: And how do we change the perception of what women should be able to handle? Parents have always needed help—but our generation decided that women should somehow do everything. Yet for thousands and thousands of years, parents had kids so that the kids could help them!
Michelle Obama: And we once lived in small enough communities where people could help each other. Families were together. That’s how I grew up. My grandmother lived around the corner, my grandfather lived two blocks away, they each lived with aunts and uncles. My paternal grandparents lived maybe ten blocks away. It was rare to see a family where one person was trying to cook, clean, watch the kids, do it all. You always had a community. But nowadays people have to move away from their community just to find a job. And then they’re leaving their support base. So we have to acknowledge that that’s going on and ask what it does to the family structure and what it means in terms of how we have to reengineer support.
Her husband has never disappointed her:
Michelle Obama: We live in the experience that we’re actually having. In just a few weeks, my husband got a stimulus bill passed and made some amazing policy changes that will affect people’s lives in a fundamentally positive way. I’m so proud of him. That’s the reality. Everything else is just what comes with the territory. The people who disagree with Barack don’t dislike him; they just disagree. That’s what democracy is about. But at some point, you’ve got to make a decision and move forward, and your hope is that people will give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re making decisions based on what you think is best for the country.
Oprah: Gayle once interviewed you for her radio show and was blown away by something you said: that your husband has never disappointed you. Gayle was like, “I can’t believe that!”
Michelle Obama: Barack is a human being with flaws. And I can rattle down all the flaws and tease him about them every day, but those flaws are not fundamental. They don’t hit upon things that are intolerable to me. In terms of his core values, he has never disappointed me. He is a very consistent person—which is why I knew unequivocally that he would be a phenomenal president. He is steady. Has he made me mad? Yes. Does he sometimes do things that I don’t like? Absolutely.
Oprah: That’s called marriage.
Michelle Obama: But as a human being, he has never disappointed. And I would hope he could say the same about me. Ask him!
Oprah: I will. First chance I get. Has your love deepened during this whole process?
Michelle Obama: Absolutely. I don’t lose sight of the fact that he’s the president, but first and foremost he’s my husband, my friend, and the father of my children. That didn’t change with his hand on the Lincoln Bible. But it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the gravity of what he’s doing. The way I can honor that is by working by his side and adding value to what he’s doing in any way that I can. That’s my part in this. That’s why I’m out there trying to be an aid and a support to his vision and his values. I am supporting the president of the United States.
“I also do some jump rope, some kickboxing — and I’d like to take up Pilates, if I could figure out whether there’s time. After I had Malia, I began to prioritize exercise because I realized that my happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself, even if that means I have to get up at 4:30 so I can do a workout … Well, I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work. If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, “Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.” So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed. Of course, it’s easier to do it here, because I have much more support now. But I always think about women who don’t have support. That’s why work-family balance isn’t just a policy conversation; it’s about changing the expectations of who we have to be as women and parents.”
Read the whole thing here: http://www.oprah.com/article/omagazine/20090223-orig-michelle-obama-oprah
Michelle Obama at her previous home in Hyde Park.