When Barack first told me he was thinking about running for President, I had mixed feelings. I worried about my girls and what a campaign might do to their lives. I wanted the best life possible for them, and a presidential campaign wasn’t part of that equation. But then I thought about it. And the world I want for them is a world where they’re paid fairly and equally for their work; where they don’t have to choose between kids and careers; where they can dream without limits without a glass ceiling standing in their way. And I realized that if that’s the world I want for them, then I had to do my part to elect someone like my husband.
The work-life balance is a harsh reality for so many women, who are forced every day to make impossible choices. Do they take their kids to the doctor…and risk getting fired? Do they work weekends so they can afford to send their kids to better childcare…even though it means even less time with their families? Do they take another shift at work, so they can pay for piano lessons for their kids…even though it means they have to stop volunteering for the PTA? It just shouldn't be this difficult to raise healthy families.
Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them. Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children--and all children in this nation--to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work.
One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.
And in my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us--no matter what our age or background or walk of life--each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.
My first job in all honesty is going to continue to be mom-in-chief. Making sure that in this transition, which will be even more of a transition for the girls…that they are settled and that they know they will continue to be the center of our universe.
Seeing a parent with a disability moving through the world and living life as if that disability didn't matter, always made us think, What do we have to complain about? We wake up, we bound out of bed, we are healthy, we're happy, and our father is struggling to get out of bed. But he never missed a day of work, never talked about being sick. So it made it hard to wake up and say, 'I don't want to go to school.'
Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we're scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don't have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own 'to do' list.
We have to design policies that have meaningful impacts on the quality of life of women and families. And that's something that I know I can speak passionately about because whether I'm in the White House as First Lady, as long as I have kids and I'm trying to have a life, I'm gonna be trying to make this balance work.
You know, you have to start with hope…you don't get anywhere in this country without hope. So it's a necessity. What Barack says is that people have to understand hope isn't just blind optimism. It isn’t passive. It isn't just sitting there waiting for things to get better. Hope is the vision that you have to have. It's the inspiration that moves people into action…There are more people engaged in this political process in this year than we've seen in my lifetime. And it is all because of hope because people believe in the possibility of something unseen.
The issues facing working women and their families are closest to my heart. I decided to focus intently on the challenges military wives face because they juggle the same pressures as their nonmilitary peers, all while coping as single parents while their loved ones are overseas. I wanted to help make their voices heard.
I come here today as a Christian, a person of faith who believes we've all been called to serve our fellow men and women and to honor God's creation. We want our girls to know right from wrong, to always tell the truth, to treat people no matter who they are with dignity and respect, no matter how different they may seem...because we want our girls to know we are all God's children and there's so much more that unites than divides us.
And as I tuck that little girl in and her little sister into bed at night, you see I think about how one day, they'll have families of their own. And one day, they--and your sons and daughters--will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They'll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, how this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country--where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House --that we committed ourselves, we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.
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Memorable Quotations: American Democrats
Memorable Quotations: American First Ladies
Memorable Quotations: American Presidents