Yes, she's the First Lady, but Michelle Obama is also something many of us can relate to - a mom. Good Housekeeping's editor in chief, Rosemary Ellis, talked with the First Lady about the role she feels is her most important. Read the full interview here and also see photos of a few of Michelle Obama's most stunning looks.
RE: I want to talk for a minute about your kids, about parenting and what that is like here. What do you know about yourself now that you didn't know before you became a mother?
MO: The endless extent of my love for my kids. It's just boundless. And you really don't expect that. I didn't know that I would spend every other minute of my life thinking about my kids in the way that I do. I'm this independent working woman with a career and so forth, but no matter what, their images, their needs, their desires, and my thoughts of them are flowing constantly through my head in a way that I would have never expected. And it's good!
Our Conversation with Michelle Obama Before She Was First Lady
RE: Here's one thing I'm curious about: How did Harvard Law prepare you for parenting?
MO: Oh, goodness! [Laughs] I think it's all the experiences along the journey, and Harvard was one of many important stops along that journey. But it's the culmination of experiences that prepares you. I think parenting has so much to do with common sense and patience and remaining open. That's another thing that my kids have taught me: to be completely open; to try not to steer the ship so much that you break the wheel. And kids force you to do that because they come into this world with completely different personalities in a way that I never thought. So there's something that I learned with one child, and another different thing that I learned when I had the second.
RE: Because they are so different.
MO: They are so different, and they came here that way. I try not to set expectations for them, about their lives and who they're going to be. And that's helped me in my own life - to not over think things or try to force the conclusion through the process.
RE: Is there a mom rule that you never break?
MO: Be kind to other people. How you treat people is really important in the world.
RE: How's it working out with your mom here, living in the White House with you? How's the division of labor?
MO: It has been wonderful. I never worried about the division of labor at all; I just wanted to make sure that my mom would be happy here. You know, that she would feel like she could have her life in the midst of all of this. And that has turned out to be the case. She wants us to have our own lives, and she has hers. So she's very easy to live with.
RE: Are there things that your mother does with the girls regularly?
MO: Yes, she takes them to school and rides home with them every single day, and unless there's a parent-teacher conference, I don't go. My mode of transportation is much more conspicuous than theirs, and the kids like it low-key.
RE: So if you and your mom ever disagree on child-rearing issues...
MO: We just don't. I am so much my mother's child in that respect. I hear myself channeling her in so many ways.
RE: What about when you and your husband disagree on a parenting issue. How do you work through that?
MO: It's like any disagreement. You talk it through: You know - "What are you really thinking?"..."This is my position." But we don't fundamentally disagree on a lot of stuff.
RE: So what is qualifying as couple time these days?
MO: We have time every day. And Barack has said it before: This is the advantage of living above the store. I mean, we have dinner together every evening.
RE: But family time is not the same as couple time.
MO: When the kids go to bed and after he's done a little reading, we're usually curled up in our den, and we'll watch a show together. Or we'll talk and catch up. It's nothing major, but that's what marriage is about. Not the big, splashy stuff. It's just the little day-to-day sharing and routines and rituals that we still have. And have much more here than we did before we moved here.
RE: What do you think is the most challenging for your girls in this new chapter in their lives?
MO: Our girls are pretty modest types, and they don't like the attention, the hoopla. They will say things like, "Ugh, Dad, do you have to drive around with the sirens in the car? Do you have to block up all the traffic?"
RE: Good for them! [Both laugh] Early on, you defined yourself as Mom in Chief. Is that still who you feel like you are?
MO: I will always feel like I'm Mom in Chief. I felt like I was Mom in Chief the minute I had a baby. Is that so controversial? For me, mothering is the thing I enjoy most in my life. I own that. There are many facets of me, but I feel like I have a responsibility as a mother first because they didn't ask to be here. I need to make sure I am doing what I think I need to do for these girls, to make them whole and healthy human beings. That's my first job, and it will hold true for the next...I don't know when it ends!
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.