Watching Malia cry…That moved me. Whatever your political affiliation, you cannot deny the beautiful tribute our President paid to his daughters in his Farewell Address. (I’d also say you cannot deny the beautiful way he speaks about all women.) “Under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women. You are smart, and you are beautiful, but more importantly, you are kind, and you are thoughtful, and you are full of passion.”
I can’t imagine what it feels like to be Malia or Sasha Obama. Journeying from childhood to young adulthood under the intense scrutiny of the media and the public eye. Every wrong turn documented– who doesn’t yawn when they’re bored? Cringe at their dad’s silly turkey jokes? Malia and Sasha seemed so normal. Malia crying seemed so normal. I was crying and I’m just me. Normal.
Malia and Sasha’s father has faced equal parts love and vitriol. What does that feel like? How do you deal with praise and criticism from some of the world’s best minds? And, today, 1.10.17, what does it mean to say goodbye to the life you know? Particularly with the awareness that things will never return to this slightly warped version of normal…It’s a bizarre dilemma that only few will ever experience in this exact way. In fact, only Malia and Sasha will every truly know what it felt like to grow up in the White House from 2009 until 2017.
In some ways, and I know this is a stretch, it reminds me of being a child (teenager) of divorce. When I was in 11th grade, and my parents separated, I felt my world shift. I also witnessed the differing manners in which my siblings, fellow children/teenagers, coped with the change– pulling inward, talking with friends, writing stories. Yet, only my siblings and I will ever truly know what it felt like to go through our family’s particular situation. There’s some power in that bond.
And some indignation. But that indignation ebbs and flows, and ultimately one hopes to arrive at a place of self acceptance. This is my position in the world. “Meet my dad’s girlfriend!” Or, “Meet my secret service guy!” And that is impressive. To become accustomed. To grow up.
As children, we are removed from the “Adult Discussion Table.” I had no input in my parents’ decision, and I imagine, neither did the Obama girls when it came to their father’s Presidential run. And why should we? It’s not my marriage. It’s not their career.
So, all in all, I appreciate President Obama’s very public recognition of his daughters’s strength and poise in the face of a life path they didn’t necessarily choose– but that they took advantage of, learned to accept and learned to enjoy. I love them because they seem just like me and my sisters: human, flawed, real.