Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege…but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we’d begun. While I believed deeply in my husband’s vision for this country . . . and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President…like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance. How would we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight? How would they feel being uprooted from their school, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known? Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys…Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house…and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.
And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls…I deeply loved the man I had built that life with…and I didn’t want that to change if he became President. I loved Barack just the way he was.
You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate . . . to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door . . . he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.
But when Barack started telling me about his family—that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine. You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable—their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young. And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain . . . I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed. But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform. And when he returned home after a long day’s work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him . . . watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms. But despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work . . . he and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of. And when my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants. But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself. And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time, even taking out loans when he fell short. He was so proud to be sending his kids to college…and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late. You see, for my dad, that’s what it meant to be a man.
More here. (Note: At least one post will be dedicated to honor Black History Month throughout February)