Dear President and Mrs. Obama,
A couple of weeks ago, I saw the pictures of the two of you reading Where the Wild Things Are at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Besides being completely jealous of those who got to be there (that’s right, I’ve entered the ticket lottery every year for the past six years since I had children of my own and not once did we get tickets…alas), I also found myself in awe, as I often do, of the two of you.
You see, in looking at these pictures, I didn’t just see two confident people reading in a goofy way to a bunch of kids. Nope. I also saw two examples of humanity, kindness, and confidence.
Its no secret that I am a huge supporter of your politics, Mr. Obama. Any visitor to my Facebook page or blog would see very quickly and easily that I have been and continue to be a huge fan of yours. But one of the things that makes me so proud to have both of you as the representatives of our nation is that there is more to you than politics.
You clearly have a sense, everywhere you go, that you are not only representing your own political views. You know you’re more than just representatives of the United States of America. It is clear that you both realize you are humanitarians. You are examples of good will. You are an example to the world of what it means to be human. You are an example to children and adults alike of how to be confident in who you are. I couldn’t wait to show my 6-year-old son, Ryan, the video of the two of you reading.
You see, recently Ryan delivered his first ever presentation in front of his class. His homework for a few days leading up to this presentation was to practice in front of his family. Having grown up competing in speech and debate, I was eager to help Ryan with this project. As he practiced his “When I Grow Up” speech (OK, so it was just six sentences, but I think for a kindergartner we can call that speech, right?), I coached him on how to look at his audience, how to effectively use hand motions to get his point across, and how to speak loudly and not into the paper he was holding.
A few times he said to me, “This is embarrassing.” He’s getting to the age where he understands the concept of embarrassment. Recently, when we went to see Zootopia in the theaters, just me and him, I started rocking out to Shakira’s “Try Everything.” I mean, how can you not dance to that song? And so, dance I did. And what did he do? He crouched in his seat and asked me to stop. Just a year ago, he would have happily joined in the dance. But now, he knew people could see me (don’t worry, we were in the back row, and this was the closing credits, we weren’t bothering anyone). He was embarrassed. And to be honest, if he was your kid, watching you read at the Easter Egg Roll, he may have been embarrassed too. Maybe Sasha and Malia were?
But he’s not your kid. He looks up to you. He knows you’re our “Big Leader Guy” and even if he didn’t state that he’d like to follow in your footsteps as President of the United States in his first big speech (sorry, the allure of a train engineer is just too great at his young age. Plus, he’s wise. He knows being President comes with a lot of stress, especially with the likes of Mitch McConnell as leader of the Senate, but I digress) he does respect you and think you’re pretty cool.
The video of the two of you reading Where the Wild Things Are, allowed us to talk about how it can be fun to be silly and goofy in front of a crowd. How the two of you weren’t concerned about what other people would think when you made those awesome faces. You were just having fun and being yourselves. We talked about confidence, and I will hope that just a little bit of the message sticks. If we’re being honest, I will hope that a lot of your messages stick.
Just this morning, I was talking with my husband, and I said, “I think this is as good as it gets. I don’t think our children will ever see another President and First Lady who are better examples of how to be a good person” than they have seen in the two of you. And sadly, two of my three children will likely never remember your presidency. Zachary and Connor are only 3 years and 18 months old. I’m not sure either of them knows who the two of you are.
But, I promise, they will know. I will share stories of your honesty, your integrity, and your leadership skills with them. I will explain that when I had the great privilege of meeting you, Michelle, in 2009, when I worked at Children’s National Medical Center, I saw firsthand that your kindness and compassion is not just a show; it is genuine and natural. At the time I was 8 ½ months pregnant with Ryan. You asked me about my pregnancy. You put your hand on my belly, and you wished me the best of luck. You didn’t just go around and talk with patients and families. No, you sat with them. You engaged. You cared.
I know plenty of people disagree with the two of you on many issues. I know many people do not think as highly of you as I do. And honestly, I have a hard time understanding that. Politics aside, you are true role models for children and adults alike.
As you end your time in the White House and begin to think about your legacy and the work you will do in the remainder of your careers, I challenge you to think of ways you can continue to have an impact on the youth of our world. I don’t want any of my children to forget you. Please, remain in the public eye. Please continue to show the world what it means to be happy, confident, smart, fun, and kind. Show the world what it means to have integrity, to have strong beliefs, and to stand up for what you believe. Don’t hesitate to continue to be an example of a successful marriage raising successful children. Our country and our world needs more of the two of you!
President and Mrs. Obama, our world may not fully recognize it yet, but we have much to thank the two of you for. I think in the years to come it will be more and more obvious. I, for one, am most grateful to the two of you for putting a face on what it means to be compassionate and human, and for never making yourselves seem “above” the people you have served and represented during your time in office. I believe you think of yourselves just like the rest of us do: People doing the best we can to do the best we can in all we do. You have succeeded. Thank you.
With greatest admiration and appreciation,