In the upcoming Mother's Day edition of USA Weekend, Michelle Obama talks about life skills -- and knowing how to do laundry is one of them.
While wanting to share the world with daughters, Malia, 11 and Sasha, 8 -- they have spent weekends at Camp David with their pals, had a glorious vacation in England and France last summer, and seen shows in New York over spring break -- Mrs. Obama wants them grounded.
The first lady grew up in a small apartment on Chicago's South Side in very modest circumstances her daughters will never know. The White House has a full staff to cook and clean for any First Family, but from the start, Mrs. Obama did not want her kids waited on, as she told People magazine in February 2009. She said she wanted the girls to have some chores, such as making their own beds. "People want to make your life easy," she said, "and when you have small kids -- I've explained this to the staff -- they don't need their lives to be easy. They're kids."
Fast-forward to the present. Mrs. Obama told USA Weekend that her mother, Marian Robinson, "has to sneak to do her own laundry." And the first lady also shared a secret: "Malia doesn't know this yet, but she's going to be doing her own laundry, too. She can't go to college never having done her own laundry!"
Catching up on other Mrs. Obama news:
- On Thursday, Mrs. Obama joined the president at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Dorothy Heights at Washington National Cathedral, where Obama delivered the eulogy.
"Michelle and I didn't know Dr. Height as well, or as long, as many of you," he said. ". . . But we did come to know her in the early days of my campaign. And we came to love her, as so many loved her. We came to love her stories. And we loved her smile. And we loved those hats that she wore like a crown -- regal. In the White House, she was a regular. She came by not once, not twice -- 21 times she stopped by the White House."
- Later on Thursday, Mrs. Obama helped congressional spouses in a service project, painting a mural at a community center in Washington. She spent some time filling in the orange, black and yellow colors of a monarch butterfly, signing her name on the wall when she was done.
When President Obama was the junior senator from Illinois, Mrs. Obama was not active in the Congressional Club (consisting of spouses of members of Congress). One reason: She was not in Washington much, continuing to live and work in Chicago during that time.
As first lady, she has headlined the Congressional Club's annual lunch, which took place this year on Wednesday. Thursday, the group was part of mural-painting service project.
"We wouldn't be here if it weren't for my folks -- my fellow folks at the Congressional Club, all the spouses. We had an opportunity to spend a wonderful lunch yesterday. It was just a truly special afternoon and it's so good that everyone has made a commitment to step out of our tea dresses and away from the crystal and to roll up our sleeves and be ready to paint and to get a little dirty," Mrs. Obama said.
"It's important, so important, not just to me but to the community to have us out here; for our kids to see that we not only care about them, which we do -- we are so proud of you all and we want the world to see you all and understand your potential, to see grade-point averages go from 2.0 to 3-point-who-knows-what. We are so proud and we want to keep lifting you up and showing other kids that these opportunities are available.
"But you all also do us a big favor, too. You give us a real good excuse to get out in beautiful weather, to kind of be silly with you all, and we get to know one another a lot better through these projects and these initiatives."