TresSugarSource: The Best Quotes From Our Conversation With the First Lady
This week we joined First Lady Michelle Obama on the campaign trail in Virginia, where she spoke to a crowd of grassroots volunteers. She also took an hour to sit down with us and a few other women journalists to have a conversation about what is at stake for women in this election, how she instills everyday values in her daughters as they grow up in the White House, and the ups and downs of being first lady - she just wishes she could walk into a CVS and buy some soap! The first lady was very candid, warm, and reliably relatable. Read on for some of her best pieces of advice, insight, and humor.
- On Everyday Life: "Yesterday, I hosted a doggy playdate. This has been a goal of Sasha's for quite some time because she's really feeling, on top of everything else I have to worry about, that Bo doesn't have enough dog interaction. So this is what I was focused on, doggy treats and toys."
- On Her Pride in Barack: "I think my husband has done a phenomenal job. Not just in the debates, but over these last three-and-a-half years. And I continue to just be in awe at how poised and consistent and honest he is."
- On Challenges of Being First Lady : "One of the toughest parts - let me preface this because I have a hard time complaining about this job especially in light of real issues people have - I can't walk outside. Sometimes I tease, 'I'm just going to walk out! No one's going to know! I'm not going to notify anyone! I'm just going to walk! I'm going to go to CVS!' I find myself gazing at CVS. I just want to walk in there. I just want to walk in there and pick up some soap."
- On Her Academic Advice : "I find myself telling Malia, do not become a box checker. If you're putting your best in, don't worry about the A, because you might get a C taking a course that you're really going to grow in. I would hate for you to be that kid that doesn't take the course that you're going to get the C in because you don't want the C as opposed to being interested in learning."
- On What She Tells Her Daughters : "Just don't dance on the table. Don't do anything foolish!" We do talk about Facebook and cameras. What they are more acutely aware of is that they're more, I don't want to say vulnerable, but people have cameras everywhere. I think they're the first kids in the White House growing up where everybody's got a cell phone. And everybody's watching. We just have to have real conversations even now. It's like, 'You can't go off on somebody. You can't act bratty. Because you may be having a moment. But somebody could use that moment and try to define you forever.' You want to be cognizant of that. And I think all kids are in that position now."
- On Women's Rights : "It is the rare instance that we take a deep dive backwards. That the rights and freedoms are allowed to be taken away. I just don't believe that women will not fight tooth and nail to make sure that we continue to progress. I'm not going to let it happen."
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- On Instilling Values in Her Girls: "We don't indulge in, 'Oh, you're the president's kid. So it must be hard.' I'm like, 'Your life's not hard. You're so far from living hard.' They don't get to have that conversation, so maybe in Malia's mind she's like 'I'm not learning enough. Maybe I need some more hardship in my life if I'm going to be a solid person.' So I always try to point out the things that are hardships for her so she can understand that there's learning in everything. That you don't have to be homeless to empathize. But you got to be aware. You got to be reading. And you got to be curious."
- On Being a Working Mom : "My life is no different from any other working mother. Mine is just more public. But the challenges, the worries that I have, we all have. We are all really working for the same thing, fundamentally. We are struggling with some of the same issues. Some of us have more resources than others, but the pain the challenges the fears of motherhood the frustrations of being a woman the hopes and dreams that you have for your daughters and all our daughters - I just don't think we're that far apart when we get a chance to actually sit down and talk to each other."
- On the Important Things in Life : "Now I'm more comfortable knowing that we are home, wherever we are. Whether it's in the White House, whether it's on the South Side of Chicago whether it's in a little condominium, whether dad's the president, dad's not. Things are OK, because the real importance of life is the family you build."
- On Her Commitments : "Ending childhood obesity is a generational goal. Because we're talking about cultural shifts and how we eat, it's going to take some consistency. Whether we're in the White House or not, I've taken on these issues because I really care about them. So at some level I'm going to be invested to see it through to the extent that my involvement can keep issues going. Same thing with military families. The hard work will just begin as these wars draw to a close for these families. Transitioning into civilian life takes a country surrounding them. I want to keep that work up."
- On the Girls at the DNC : "The girls still don't have that focus poker face. So Barack was like, 'Just look like you're listening.' And they're like, "OK, dad! We'll do that for you." It's much more distracting when they're there. They were starting to argue with each other. 'Sasha, why do you have to put that on? It's like, 'Shhhh!' They have to be reminded. So all through his speech at the convention, I'm like leaning over. I'm not hearing anything because I'm like, 'Just smile.' So Sasha throughout is like, 'Is this good?!' 'Is this funny? Was that a good joke? I didn't really get it, but I'm smiling.' That's it. That's my girl."
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- On Running For Office : "I would never consider running for office, and I never have. The process hasn't changed me. I know who I am. I know what I'm good at. I know what I'd enjoy. And at 48 - Am I 48? I'm 48? I'll be 48? No I'll be 49! - I know what I want to do with my life. I don't know completely, but it's not politics. That's not my gift. That's not my calling."
- On Kids: "I love kids. I could spend my days with kids."
- On Girls Having Choices : "The one thing I'm really an advocate for these days is making sure that my girls and girls in general know just that they have a broader definition of who they can be. If you find that person that you love and you want to get married and you want to have kids, great. If you don't, I don't want you to be that person that spends a lifetime with someone that they don't love because they think they should. That's one of those liberating things for women. You got to embrace whoever you're going to be."
- On How Her Experience Differs From Her Girls' : "When I went to school, being smart in a public school was dangerous. Truly. 'You talk like a white girl.' Or, 'Who do you think you are with grades?' That's how we grew up. You had to sort of be sneaky-smart. You had to get home from school. I tell them how fortunate they are to be able to fully celebrate their intellectual beings. That you can love Shakespeare and you can talk about Toni Morrison and you can have correct vocabulary."
- On New Issues She'd Pursue : "I still think there's a lot more we could do internationally with women. And I think in a second term, for example, there are more ways we can tie in health and nutrition and many of the issues we're dealing with here in the United States with women and families in other countries. I'd love to explore that a little more."
- On the Girls Growing Up : "Malia is just now asking me about my job when I was the vice president of the hospital. We had a conversation about that this weekend because now she's old enough to think about, 'Why did you do that job?' and 'How did you feel about it?' Malia is just now starting to care about what we do because now she's getting into that stage where she's thinking about who she wants to be and how do you make decisions about careers."
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