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To her family, she’s not the first lady, she’s not the president’s wife, she’s “Miche.” And that’s exactly the way Michelle Obama likes it.
During a roundtable with reporters on the final day of her national tour promoting her health campaign Let’s Move, the first lady talked about how she and the president try to get Malia and Sasha, ages 13 and 10, out of the White House as much as possible. “That is important to us, because the White House is a wonderful home, they enjoy it,” but getting them some “normalcy” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is going to be “relative for us,” she said, after delivering a speech before more than 3,000 people at a megachurch in Longwood, Florida. “But when they’re outside of the bubble, even if it’s going for a walk or going skiing or whatever it may be – going for a bike ride – it just reminds them that their life is normal." And reminds "Miche" that her life is normal too.
To reinforce "normal," Mrs. Obama said she took the girls on a vacation to her brother’s house in Oregon – something she hadn’t done since moving to the White House. She said she knew it was important for Malia and Sasha, but also to her brother and his family. “It was important for me to go there, because one of the things that my brother’s wife told me too – because in a family where one of your family members is the president, it can always be about you,” she said. “My niece was so happy that we got to see her house and it wasn’t because I was first lady. It was because her aunt and her cousins got to see her world, and see her room, and visit her friends and sit in her backyard. And I didn’t think about that until my sister-in-law mentioned that.”
She said while the president couldn’t quite pick up and go stay at her brother’s home, and sit on the back porch and enjoy a barbecue, she, Malia and Sasha could. “We still are members of a family, right?” she said. “We still have cousins and nieces and nephews who don’t see us in any other way than Miche, which is what my family calls me and Barack.”
The first lady shared that Malia will be going to high school this fall (I can’t believe it!) and hopes to play tennis in high school, which might mean practices this summer complicating any summer vacations. And since her nieces and nephews play basketball, their schedules are equally complicated. So she said she’ll be trying to figure it all out – and she likes that – a lot. “It just feels normal figuring it out, right?” she said with a smile. “It feels normal just to – it’s like, I’m not the first lady, I’m just Miche.”
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Kelly Wallace is iVillage's Chief Correspondent. She was one of only five reporters -- and the sole digital reporter -- traveling with the first lady to Iowa, Arkansas, Texas and Floria. You can follow Kelly's blog from the trip here and follow Kelly on Twitter here.