Michelle Obama: As Barack’s First Lady, I Would Work to Help Working Families and Military Families

Military and working families would be my focus, Michelle Obama writes, along with a sleepover or two.

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A few weeks ago at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I shared with the nation some of the many reasons why I believe my husband will 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 10-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.

If Barack is elected president, I would be honored to be first lady. I would 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 would still be Mom. At 7 and 10, our daughters are young. If we move to Washington, 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 center of Barack's and my world. They're the reason he is running 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 is about—making sure that America remains a country where everyone can fulfill their God-given potential.

Barack and I have traveled to every corner of the country, talking with 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 the additional cost of child care. 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 real ways to help.

American stories. As first lady, I'd continue these conversations with working women and military spouses, and I'd 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 percent 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 for better healthcare—including mental health care—for returning servicemen and women.

These issues are my passions. Win or lose on November 4, I'll keep working to find solutions that make a real difference in people's lives. If Barack has the chance to serve as president, we will fill our home with talk of how to better serve our nation's families.

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