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Moms on a Mission

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden rally support for military families

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden discuss joining forces at the White House

Jill Biden and Michelle Obama say it's time for Americans to show more love for the families of those who serve. — Photo by Art Streiber

Q: But you're both juggling so many roles — mother, grandmom, professional, stand-in for your husband.

JB: Well, we're in unique roles. And really, I don't think there's anything I'd want to give up. I don't want to give up teaching, obviously. So I think we're blessed to be doing what we're doing.

MO: I look at it like this: If you're healthy, God willing, life is long. And there are moments when you sacrifice and you make changes that are necessary to get important things done, whether that's raising your children, following a career you love, or sacrificing for a spouse who is doing something important. I think throughout my life I've done a little bit of compromising and sacrificing and balancing for all of those. And when this is done, there's still a whole other season of my wants and needs. But right now, this is an honor and a privilege. And I think our goal is to be smart and strategic so that what we do has an impact.

"We're blessed to be doing what we're doing." — Jill Biden

Q: What part of the job did you think you wouldn't like but have warmed to over the months?

JB: Speaking! I never used to speak at all. I always said Joe is the speaker of the family. I mean, I'd go to events and volunteer, but I was never a speaker. And now that has totally changed for me.

MO: For me it's sharing my husband with the world. You get a little selfish sometimes. But every time I get irritated, or feel a little lonely or tired, I just think this is our duty. These men are doing a phenomenal service, and they're doing it with dignity and calm.

Q: What about your mother? How much are you relying on her still?

MO: Oh, she's our foundation. She just is. She's that matriarch who is never too pressed about all of this, and that helps. The President is Barack, her son-in-law. And I'm Michelle, her daughter. And the most important thing in the world is to make sure that neither one of us messes up her grandchildren. [Laughs.]

JB: And she was there this morning at Grandparents Day.

MO: At Grandparents Day at our kids' schools. It is that intergenerational connection that is essential. I think that for many women who are juggling, having that mom or dad who can give the unconditional love only grandparents can give — who can let the rules slide just enough, so that kids feel they're loved, but can still hold tight to what's important, because they care so deeply about making sure that their grandchildren are decent human beings — that means the world. But Jill is doing that, too, and looking fabulous. [Laughs.] Jill is a grandmom.

Next: On women in public office. >>

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