How Michelle Obama Is Navigating Family Life and Protests in Quarantine

·5 min read
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

  • In a new podcast episode, Michelle Obama shares how she and her family are spending time at home as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

  • The former First Lady shared that she and her family are having regular family dinners and doing group activities like puzzles and card games.

  • Though she is sticking to a routine, she said she's also "dealing with some form of low-grade depression," not just because of the pandemic, but also because of the "hypocrisy" of the Trump administration.

After featuring an insightful and intimate conversation with former President Barack Obama in its debut episode, The Michelle Obama Podcast continues with a reflective conversation between the former First Lady and award-winning journalist Michele Norris. The two discussed their relationships with themselves, especially amid an unprecedented global pandemic and movement of racial unrest.

Michelle knows from her experience in the White House that operating under a routine is necessary "in order to stay sane, and to feel like the human that you once were," she told Norris. That means waking up around six or seven o'clock and working out. Then, during the day, she, her husband, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, usually do their work in separate parts of the house before gathering at around five o'clock for a group activity and family dinner.

"I'm finding that in quarantine, we look forward to that," she said. They usually do a puzzle, chat, and play games. "So Barack has taught the girls spades, so now there's this vicious competition. They wouldn't have sat down but for this quarantine, to learn how to play a card came with their dad," she added.

But, like many of us, Michelle has had low moments in the monotonous stay-at-home era, made even bleaker by the growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States, a country that has garnered an ill reputation for its lacking response to the pandemic.

"[There] have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low," she admitted. "You know, I've gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don't feel yourself, and sometimes I've—there've been a week or so where I had to surrender to that, and not be so hard on myself."

She added that these are "not fulfilling times, spiritually. You know, so I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting."

The former FLOTUS explained that the cross-country protests and racial unrest, which resurged following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others this year, are a result of an issue that has "plagued this country since its birth."

"I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting," she continued. "And it has led to a weight that I haven't felt in my life in a while."

In her periods of darkness, Michelle has found joy in the simple things, like staying connected with "my girlfriends, my husband, my kids," she said. It also helps her mental health to stay off her phone and not look at the news.

To this, Norris pointed out that the trope of the strong Black woman is "a cement necklace." Michelle agreed before Norris continued on. "You know, that's supposed to feel like pearls. It's supposed to be a compliment, but what it is is it perpetuates the notion that we can throw anything at you. We can just hurl anything at you and you will catch it, and look elegant doing it. And that's just not true."

Michelle continues to keep her hope alive, however, noting that "the thing we have to remember is, like, we've been through tough times in this nation." But looking back on an exhaustive year (which still has five months to go), she said what we're all thinking: "It's like phew! What more do you have for us, 2020?!"

Listen to the full podcast episode below.

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