Rejoice, because Michelle Obama’s podcast has arrived! The first episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast hit Spotify on Wednesday and, already, it’s proving to be even more impactful and relatable than we expected. For instance, in the inaugural episode, Michelle spills the tea about the thing daughters Malia and Sasha Obama do that most gets on her nerves. And as she teases at the end of the episode, the rest of the season will get to the root of relationships and the kinds of conversations we all need to have around our dinner tables “to appreciate the importance that community plays on who you are.”
As Michelle explains in her first episode, which features husband Barack as her guest, the idea of the podcast sprouted up after the family left the White House. Once she “finally had time to breathe,” she threw herself into reflecting on their time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and she didn’t stop there. “I went even deeper,” she said. “I looked back on the whole arc of my life.” Which brings us to this first episode, in which she and Barack explore how parenting (and perspective) has shifted since their youth.
“The phrase that sticks with me from my parents is ‘never enough.’ ‘Cause the minute you had a little bit of something — a pint of ice cream, chocolate and you ask for strawberry — you’d get in trouble. It’s like, ‘How dare you not be satisfied with what you have?’… And I find myself saying that to Malia and Sasha. That’s the biggest thing that gets on my nerves — they know it. We’re doing something great, and you start looking at each other. It’s like, ‘never satisfied’. Stuff doesn’t make you happy.”
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So excited for you to hear the first episode of The #MichelleObamaPodcast with @BarackObama! I wanted to start this season off by discussing a relationship that a lot of us are spending a lot of time thinking about right now and that’s our relationship with our community and our country. Given everything that’s going on in the world, I think that these days, a lot of people are questioning just where and how they can fit into a community. And how you answer those questions is unique to you, your experiences, and your communities––but the important thing is that you do go through the process of reflecting and reaching out to loved ones to talk through what you’re feeling and what you’re hoping for. Because once you do those things, I think you’ll have a better sense of your community, your country, and yourselves. And if enough of us can do that—and if enough of us can empathize with one another—then over time––and it will take a long time, we can come up with some solutions and create the change we’re all hoping for. Click the link in my bio to hear my conversation with Barack!
And while the Becoming author jokes about feeling guilty for not being satisfied with her “little bowl of ice cream,” she and Barack agree that the culture, when they were younger, was decidedly different. “I think when we were coming up, the culture wasn’t beating you over the head every day with what you should have,” Barack suggested, which Michelle readily agreed with. She added, “We didn’t feel poor, but you go back to visit the house we grew up in and you think, My God, we were broke.”
It wasn’t as noticeable, tendered Barack, because life then was less about material possessions. “I think that culturally we’ve become much more focused on stuff and much less focused on relationships, family. And part of being an adult, part of being a citizen is you give something up.”
But as Michelle points out, today’s society centers consumerism and accumulation. “The model has become not that you sacrifice, but that you should be able to have it all — and how you get it, and if you’re not getting it something’s wrong,” she lamented. “I always joke that’s the opposite of how we were brought up. You were never supposed to have it all, you know? In fact, if you had it all, you were being greedy ‘cause if you had it all, that meant that somebody else didn’t have anything.”
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As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, I’m reflecting on the lessons that my mom taught me and my brother Craig over the years. When we were growing up, she always gave us the space to ask questions and share our ideas. And she always took us seriously, carefully considering what we had to say and responding with thoughtful questions, and plenty of encouragement. All along, she was empowering us to be ourselves, kindling the unique flame burning inside each of us. She laid out the blueprint for how I have raised my own girls. Mom, you are my rock and my best friend, and you have been a guiding light throughout my life. I love you! ❤️ #IAmBecoming
Yet, here we are, with generations of children who are stuck in a cycle of never feeling satisfied. “That’s what we’re kind of teaching young people — you should have a career; you should earn a lot of money; you should be fulfilled; you should have your passion; you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that much. You should have it all,” said Michelle, noting that such a philosophy essentially sets kids up for a lifetime of disappointment and skewed sense of entitlement. And, worse, it fosters alienation.
“We’re all on our own,” she added of this kind of culture. “It’s dog-eat-dog. It’s not us; it’s us against them.” This is precisely why Michelle’s pet peeve with her daughters is the “never enough” mentality. To counter it, she and Barack are committed to having the hard, honest conversations on a continual basis with their kids, leading her to joke, “Sometimes our dinners get a little heavy.”