This week is kicking my ass so instead of new content, I’m bringing back this gem I wrote for DC Metro Moms back in May. Enjoy!
Dear Mrs. Obama,
I know I’m kind of late welcoming you to town but someone told me that Secret Service wasn’t going to just let me stroll up to your front door with a casserole. Also, I’m a working mother living here in the DC area and that means life is busy and complicated. But you already knew that, didn’t you? You did the whole working mom gig in Chicago and now you’re doing it here.
I’ve gotta say, Mrs. Obama (or can I call you Michelle? I think I’ll call you Michelle because it’s much easier to type), I am amazed at the grace with which you handle your life here in DC. I’m sure that in some ways, this is easier than the way things were back in Chicago when your husband was working out of town and you were trying to manage a career and two school-age kids by yourself. And then your husband decided he wanted to change jobs and got mired in the longest, most harrowing, and most obsequious job interview process ever. One that came with death threats to your family. And you never showed the strain. You showed up when you needed to show up, you were funny when you needed to be funny, and you shielded your girls from the utter zaniness of it all so beautifully.
Then you all packed up and moved to DC in what I’m sure was the most surreal moving process ever. How does that work? Did you pack your own dishes and framed photos and the girls’ summer clothes on your own or did someone show up and take over all those details for you? I know you got a walk through of the house before you moved and I know Jenna and Barbara Bush showed your girls their rooms, which I thought was one of the loveliest gestures in the history of Presidential transitions and the kind of touch only women could come up with and why are men still in charge when it’s women who manage all the fine details? Sorry. Got sidetracked there.
Now you’re here and your job became being America’s Working Mom in Chief. You have a staff and an office and an official schedule and a platform of issues that you are the face of. Plus, I’m sure you have to help with homework, and manage tv consumption, and remind them to walk the dog and, oh yeah, make the harrowing emotional decisions about how to explain to your children about the awful things that people say about their father, you, and even sometimes them. You have to teach your girls that privilege should not corrupt their sense of responsibility and they still need to do their chores. You have your own mother here to help but in the end, we all know that it’s you, the Mom in Chief, who has to make the gut level choices. We know because we’re all making them too but for most of us, we’re not trying to make them while juggling marriage to a man who gets a phone call, turns to us and says “I have to go to Louisiana and try to figure out how to save the ocean ecosystem and a coastal economy from an unprecedented oil rig accident.”
How do you do it every day, Michelle? This wasn’t your dream, was it? I’ve read books and articles that talked about your husband’s decision to pursue this line of work and everyone who knows you agrees that this was not what you would have chosen if the choice had been yours alone. But I guess at the heart of it you knew that he wouldn’t be who he is if he wasn’t doing this thing he needed to do and you love him too much to rein him in. Instead, you stood on that podium with him when he took that oath and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue holding his hand and waving to all your new neighbors here in DC (and the millions of people who were visiting and watching on tv) and marched into a future only a few mothers could even begin to understand. I hope Hillary and Rosalynn shared their insights with you.
I think I speak for a lot of moms when I say, we’re cheering for you, Michelle. We know it isn’t easy. You travel, your husband travels, your kids are tweens with all that accompanies that, and the whole damn world keeps watching. But I think you’re doing great. Your daughters are safely out of sight, going to their school, and everyone who counts is being respectful of that. You’re saying important stuff about the health of our families and we’re listening. And your marriage appears to be going strong despite the stress in your lives now.
I’m still sorry I couldn’t bring you a casserole or cookies when you first moved in but I hope you feel welcome here. I’d love it if you could stay until 2016 but it’s not up to me. Just know that this one mom in your ‘hood likes having you here.
P.S. If Malia is looking to start babysitting, I would totally hire her. I would love a smart, responsible, young babysitter who comes with her own Secret Service detail!