Michelle Obama’s highly-anticipated memoir, “Becoming,” finally hit shelves yesterday and was, predictably, picked up by Oprah’s Book Club. The book is said to be 400 pages of hard truths and an understanding of life in the political spotlight as not only a First Lady, but as a mother, wife and American citizen.
Former president Barack Obama today shared his support and love for both his wife and this book:
Michelle kicked off her book tour (which I tried and failed to get tickets to, of course) in Chicago last night but had previously spoken to Oprah Winfrey for the December 2018 issue of O. the Oprah Magazine. Here are eight poignant parts of her “Becoming” interview.
Her mom thought first-grade Michelle was “a little extra.”
“...If you didn’t demonstrate ability -- particularly as a black kid on the South Side from a working-class background -- then people were already ready to put you in a box of underachievement. I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t a hard-working kid. I didn’t want them to think I was ‘one of those kids.’ The ‘bad kids.’ There are no bad kids; there are bad circumstances.”
Her parents’ sacrifices fostered that gold-star-chasing attitude.
“They invested everything in us. My mom didn’t go to the hairdresser. She didn’t buy herself new clothes...And my parents helped me to realize that there’s something that happens to a person who knows deep inside that they are more than what their opportunities allowed them to be.”
But she hated being a lawyer.
“I narrowed myself to being this thing I thought I should be. It took loss -- losses in my life that made me think, ‘Have you ever stopped to think about who you wanted to be?’ And I realized I had not. I was sitting on the 47th floor of an office building, going over cases and writing memos.”
Barack Obama taught her there’s more than one way to go through life.
“He was the opposite of a box checker. He was swerving all over the place...Barack Obama taught me how to swerve...His mother was in Indonesia, he was raised by his grandparents, he didn’t know his father -- and yet even with this context, he was a solid guy. You realize that there are so many ways to live this life.”
Her White House office was the party office.
“[The security advisers would] fall into my office -- which was beautifully decorated, lots of flowers, and apples, and we were always laughing -- and they’d sit down for a briefing and wouldn’t want to leave. ‘We’re done, gentlemen.’ ‘We don’t wanna go back!’”
She knows she’s a role model and wants to be a realistic one.
“I hate when people who are in the public eye -- and even seek the public eye -- want to step back and say, ‘Well, I’m not a role model. I don’t want that responsibility.’ Too late. You are. Young people are looking at you...[And] I know there’s #RelationshipGoals out there. But whoa, people, slow down -- marriage is hard!
One of her concerns with Barack running for president was his sensitive demeanor in the world of politics.
“...Politics was ugly and nasty, and I didn’t know that my husband’s temperament would mesh with that. And I didn’t want to see him in that environment.”
She was adamant about one daily ritual during the Obama administration.
“Family dinners. That was one of the things I brought into the White House -- that strict code of, ‘You gotta catch up with us, dude. This is when we’re having dinner. Yes, you’re president, but you can bring your butt from the Oval Office and sit down and talk to your children.’”