Michelle Speaks on First Lady Duties

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via Times Online

By Michelle Obama

A few weeks ago at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I shared with the nation some of the many reasons why I believed my husband would be an extraordinary president. It was the biggest speech I’d ever given. When I was finished, I headed backstage with my daughters. They turned to me, breathless with excitement.

“Mom,” Malia, our ten-year-old, said. “We have something important to tell you. We need to have a sleepover!”

That snapped me out of speech mode, with the bright lights and applause, and back into the role I love: Mom. The next night, 15 giggling girls – my daughters, the Biden granddaughters, and friends – took over our hotel room.

Now that Barack has been elected president, it will be an honour to be First Lady. I will work daily on the issues closest to my heart: helping working women and families, particularly military families. But, as my girls reminded me in Denver, even as First Lady, my No 1 job is still to be Mom. At 7 and 10, our daughters are young. My first priority will be to ensure they stay grounded and healthy, with normal childhoods – including homework, chores, dance, and soccer.

Our girls are the centre of Barack’s and my world. They’re the reason he ran for president – to make the world a better place for them and for all children. For us, and for millions of Americans, that’s what this election has been about – making sure that America remains a country where everyone can fulfil their God-given potential.

Barack and I have travelled to every corner of the country, talking to people about their lives and dreams. Their stories have touched our hearts and strengthened our resolve. They’ve made us more certain than ever that, despite any differences we may have, there is so much that unites us as Americans. But times are tough. Parents are working harder than ever to raise their kids, pay bills, help out their parents and keep up with the rising cost of living. Caring for their families is their greatest joy – but it’s harder to make ends meet.

We’ve talked to mothers whose salaries can’t cover the cost of groceries – but if they take a second job, they can’t afford childcare. More than 22 million working women don’t have paid sick days. Millions of women are doing the same jobs as men but they’re earning less.

It’s even harder for military spouses. Their husbands and wives are away serving our nation for months at a time. So they have to be Mom and Dad. They’re working, checking in on their in-laws, helping with homework, and doling out discipline – and every night, they’re praying with all their hearts for their loved ones’ safe return. These families aren’t asking the Government to fix their problems. They’re asking for it to understand what’s happening to their families and to find ways to help.

As First Lady, I will continue these conversations with working women and military spouses, and I’ll take their stories back to Washington to make sure that the people who run our country know how their policies touch their constituents’ lives.

The struggles of America’s families aren’t new to Barack. He was raised by a single mom who put herself through school and built a career that she loved while still finding time to read to him each morning. So, he knows how heroic America’s parents can be. That’s why he is committed to restoring the middle class, cutting taxes for 95 per cent of all working Americans, establishing pay equity for women, and expanding family leave. He also knows that when our military goes to war, their families go with them. He’s a strong advocate for predictable deployments and better healthcare – including mental health – for returning service people.

These issues are my passions. Now that the election is won, I’ll keep working to find solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives. With Barack serving as President, we will fill our home with talk of how to serve our nation’s families better.

And occasionally, when our daughters insist, we’ll host sleepovers, too.

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