With two young daughters at the center of their universe, Barack and Michelle have to balance their world
The President Elect Barack Obama and America’s next First Lady Michelle are poised for their next challenge as leaders of the free world, but the one constant that will not be altered is the commitment to keep daughters Malia and Sasha at the center of their personal universe.
Precisely two months from today, the Obamas will move to their new pad in Washington D.C. and be officially sworn in as the first African American President and First Lady in the history of the United States of America.
Already having survived a grueling 21-month campaign trail that has taken them to every nook and cranny in the nation, the Obamas have gotten a peek of what their new found life as political pioneers will look like.
Through it all, with the future President dividing his time between family and ambition, they have kept to their core values as parents of two doting children,10-year-old Malia and seven-year-old Sasha, at the root of their foundation.
Therefore the most significant addition to the White House will be Michelle’s mother Marian Robinson, who has been caretaker of her granddaughters during many of these busy months leading up to history.
Both Barack and Michelle conceded during a recent 60-Minute television interview that the landmark journey could not have happened without Robinson, whose husband died in 1990.
Michelle credits her mother with instilling in her the family values that both she and Barack have embraced and are passing along to their two precious children frequently seen during the conclusion of the next president’s Democratic National Convention speech and his victorious election speech before hundreds of thousands in Chicago.
For the record, Sasha will be the youngest child to live in the White House since John F. Kennedy Jr. arrived as an infant in 1961.
Aside from school, the two girls have a daily routine of piano and tennis lessons. However Malia, who celebrated her birthday on July 4 while her father was campaigning in Montana, also plays soccer and participates in dance and drama while Sasha, born June 10, prefers tap dance and gymnastics.
Like many Black children, their favorite foods are fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.
The world knows by now that the girls will be getting a new puppy that will join them as companion in the White House, but according to Michelle, that is not expected to happen until early spring.
Barack was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii and Michelle was born on January 17 in Chicago, Illinois.
They met at the law firm of Sidley Austin in Chicago in 1989 and after Barack was vetted by brother-in-law and current Oregon State men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson, the two wed on October 3, 1992.
Recently, Michelle recalled during a television interview how she could see the pavement while riding as a passenger in Barack’s car while dating. The floor of the vehicle had been rusted and rotted by the Chicago climate.
As Barack quipped, “She was not after me for my money.”
Most know about the future President’s fascination with basketball, but he also enjoys cooking and writing in his spare time. Michelle is also a fan of cooking as well as the popular crossword game, Sudoku.
Both also share a love of Mexican food and Italian food. Their love of Italian food will be seen at the inauguration as the local chef of Italian Fiesta Pizzeria—a favorite restaurant in Chicago—was hired to serve pizza.
But it’s clear the two love being around each other just as much and with their newfound fame and responsibility, Barack said that what he will miss most about the old days are those isolated walks with his wife, no doubt finding peace and solace away from everyday life.
Barack’s multi-racial background has been documented. His African father, Barack Obama Sr., was from the Luo tribe in Kenya, his Caucasian mother, Ann Dunham, was from Kansas and his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was from Indonesia.
When Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” asked Barack last week if he grew up white, he replied: “I’m not sure that would be true. I think what would be true is that I don’t have the typical background of African-Americans. Not just because my mother was white, but because I grew up in Hawaii; I’ve spent time in Indonesia.
“There [were] all sorts of ethnicities and cultures that were swirling around my head as I was growing up. That’s proven to be an enormous strength for me. It’s part of the reason why I think I’m able to bring people together in ways that may be useful to the country. There were times where that was difficult.
“One of the things that helped me to resolve a lot of these issues is the realization that the African-American community, which I now very much feel a part of, is itself a hybrid community. It’s African. It’s European. It’s Native American. So it’s much more difficult to define what the essential African-American experience is, at least more difficult than what popular culture would allow.
“What I also realized is that the American experience is, by definition, a hybrid experience. I mean, you know one of the strengths of this country is that we have these people coming from...all four corners of the globe converging, and sometimes in conflict, living side by side, and over time coming together to create this tapestry that is incredibly strong.
“And so, in that sense, I feel that my background ironically, because it’s unusual, is quintessentially American.”
However, living on the Southside of Chicago—a neighborhood that Michelle candidly refers to as “the hood”—has allowed for Barack deepen his culture with African Americans and bridge an unyielding bond with Blacks nationally and throughout the world.
It is a diverse background that has not only shaped the President-Elect and First Lady-in-Waiting, but also their two daughters as they prepare to start growing up before the public eye.