Hanging Out With Michelle Obama: 5 Things I Learned

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Michelle Obama and CafeMom
First Lady Michelle Obama holds a roundtable discussion on Let's Move initiative and motherhood issues in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Oct. 17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Yesterday I had the privilege of spending an hour with Michelle Obama on behalf of CafeMom and The Stir. I was joined by editors of other women-focused websites and together we had an intimate and wide-ranging conversation with the First Lady.

Michelle answered all our questions with a down-to-earth charm that immediately put us all at ease. It felt like having a chat with your girlfriends -- that is, if your girlfriends just happen to come with a professional photographer, fancy china, and everything you say is recorded and transcribed for posterity.  

Before I get into the meat of our conversation, here are the two things you're dying to know:

1. Yes, her biceps really are that impressive. She is extremely fit.

And ...

2. She was wearing a really nice dress from Target. She really does shop there.

Okay, now we can move on.

During our visit, we talked with the First Lady about everything from the first family's television viewing habits (Barack isn't too fond of his daughters Sasha and Malia watching the Kardashians) to how moms can feel empowered to make change in the world. Whether we were talking important stuff or junk food, I found myself nodding in agreement as she dropped little nuggets of wisdom. Here are a few of my favorites…

On raising her daughters in the White House:

... They’re terrific girls. They’re poised and they’re kind and they’re curious. And like any mother, I am just hoping that I don’t mess them up.

Sounds familiar to all moms -- right?

On being happy:

Even when times are tough, in the end, you are as happy as your least happy child.

I never really thought of it in those terms, but so true.

On finding time for herself:

... What I learned early was that I have to be healthy. I have to exercise. I have to eat right in order for me to be able to perform at maximum capacity for my family.

That’s advice I need to take to heart.

On mom needing a support system:

I know how blessed I am [having so much support], and I know how rare it is to live in an institution that can provide you with that kind of support. I believe every mother needs a personal assistant. And a chef, and -- what else do we need?

Was that a rhetorical question? Because I could use a handyman and pastry chef, too.

On how mom can stay motivated to make change in the world:

[Change is about moms] getting up every day doing just what they’re doing -- focusing on family, focusing on self, focusing on the things that we do have control over -- our kids’ schools, our workplace, the other parents in our community. There are hundreds of wonderfully small changes that we can make in our lives if we’re all doing that. That becomes the collage of real change.

And I just think ... we lose sight of the fact that that day-to-day work is really how change happens. So I would urge them: don't get discouraged. Don't get discouraged at all. Because our kids already see the world differently -- today. They're born into a different way of thinking that I think is good. They're more open. They're more curious. The world is different. And each generation, just by the sheer fact that they come on this Earth, is creating change.

Wow, those are some powerful words. Who's ready to change the world with me?


white house, barack obama

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mommix4 mommix4

I'm just amazed she had the stir there??

MomX3... MomX3ThatsMe

I love the statement about how a mother is only as happy as her least happy child.  That is oh so true!


And I agree with the previous poster... CM/The Stir were invited to a meet and greet with Michelle Obama??  How cool!

tuffy... tuffymama

The least happy child quote was on a magnet stuck to my mom's secretary's file cabinet, BTW, so don't get all starry eyed after you drink the koolaid. The Michelle didn't coin that one herself.

periw... periwinkle163

She made some very good points.

Domon... DomoniqueWS

I like everything so far that you have shared.

jsi jsi

haha LOL! about the least happy child quote was on a magnet. LOL! i fell for it too! but it is so true! and good for her to not let the beauty of those magical words die. she is still my favorite, well... behind hilary of course, and palin.... yes, yes, i know....

MomTi... MomTiara19

Wow.....I wish I could have been there to meet her:)


~Tia

CoolR... CoolRelax

Umm, did she say that she thought it up all by herself?  Didn't know you guys fact checked little nuggets of wisdom that were passed on.  Some folks.....

nonmember avatar Liz

Is Michelle Obama not allowed to repeat tidbits of knowledge she's learned throughout life, the way we all do? When you teach your children a lesson, do you come up with it all by yourself? Or do you pass on information you learned from your parents, and their parents, and so on? She's a woman, talking to other women, a mother talking to other mothers. She's not giving a speech titled "Insightful things I came up with all by myself."

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