First Lady Michelle Obama covered Vogue for the second time in the April edition of the magazine and although admittedly the article was as much about her husband President Barack Obama as it was her, there are a handful of takeaways from the interview that clue you in to Michelle as a wife, mother, and figure in the national discussion.
1. Michelle likes to tease Barack
In parts of the interview it’s clear the president gets away with nothing when it comes to his wife, and that Michelle will always tell her husband exactly how it is -- out of love, of course.
“I had this little bachelor apartment that Michelle refused to stay in because she thought it was a little, uh. . . .”
“Yikes,” she says.
But really she does...
“There’s no doubt I’m a better man having spent time with Michelle. I would never say that Michelle’s a better woman, but I will say she’s a little more patient.”
“I would say I’m a better woman. You couldn't say it.”
“I couldn't say it,” he says.
The First Lady looks at me: “It’s good that he learned not to say that.” And then turns and looks at him and smiles. “Don’t say that.”
2. Michelle’s “Mom-in-chief” moniker is more than a line from a speech
In the interview, the fact that she cares about her kids being bright, well-adjusted young ladies is clear. Her wanting them to have a “normal life” might be a touch out of reach, but her striving to give Sasha and Malia a well-rounded upbringing in not so normal of circumstances is commendable.
“The Secret Service has to change the way they do things; they have to become more flexible. And they do. Because they want to make sure that these girls are happy and that they have a normal life. . . . So it requires us to be there and be present so that we can respond and have the system respond to their needs.”
3. Michelle keeps Barack grounded through sacrifice
The president seems keenly aware that his ambitions require sacrifice from those around him, mainly his wife. And he beams when he talks about his wife of more than 20 years.
“What is also true is Michelle’s had to accommodate” — he pauses for a long while — “a life that” — another pause — “it’s fair to say was not necessarily what she envisioned for herself. She has to put up with me. And my schedule and my stresses. And she’s done a great job on that.”
4. Michelle is no background player
Spouses are often given the title “better half” rather flippantly, but it seems that Barack does value Michelle’s place as part of a team. It’s not about “catering” to her husband, but rather keeping him on track, and letting him know what’s important.
"I think it would be a mistake to think that my wife, when I walk in the door, is, Hey, honey, how was your day? Let me give you a neck rub. It’s not as if Michelle is thinking in terms of, How do I cater to my husband? I think it’s much more, We’re a team, and how do I make sure that this guy is together enough that he’s paying attention to his girls and not forgetting the basketball game that he’s supposed to be going to on Sunday?"
Barack even equates Michelle to a line from a famous friend’s song.
“Michelle’s like Beyoncé in that song,” says the president. “‘Let me upgrade ya!’ She upgraded me.”
5. Michelle learns just as much from Barack as she teaches him
A lot of the interview focuses on Barack’s appreciation for his wife, but there’s a moment when “borrowed functioning” enters the conversation and Michelle highlights Barack’s “Hawaiian mellowness,” often seen by many as being aloof or cold.
“Well, patience and calm I’m borrowing,” says the First Lady. “Or trying to mirror. I've learned that from my husband, that sort of, you know, ability to not get too high or too low with changes and bumps in the road . . . Oftentimes, it’s the way we react to change that is the thing that determines the overall experience. So I've learned to let go and enjoy it and take it in and not take things too personally.”