Michelle Obama to mark 50th birthday on Friday
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2011, file photo, first lady Michelle Obama plays soccer on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, as part of a Let's Move! clinic. The nation’s first lady turns 50 on Friday and, by her own account, feels more relaxed now that President Barack Obama’s days as a candidate for elected office are over. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearing a milestone birthday, Michelle Obama exuberantly describes herself as "50 and fabulous." She's celebrating already and a big birthday bash is in the works.
The nation's first lady hits the half-century mark on Friday and, by her own account, she feels more relaxed now that President Barack Obama's days as a candidate are over.
"That layer is gone now. It gives me a little more room to breathe," she told an interviewer.
Nearly five years after assuming the first lady's role following a bruising campaign in which she sometimes became a target, Mrs. Obama is showing increased comfort in what amounts to a volunteer position with a host of responsibilities and outsized expectations. Not to mention a sometimes-unforgiving spotlight.
FILE - In this May 28, 2013 file photo, First lady Michelle Obama joins school children from Long Beach Island Grade School in Ship Bottom, N.J., from left, and second from left: Jordan Leeds, age 11, Joshua Styler-Tracy, age 11, and Madisyn Goias, age 10, to harvest the summer crop from the White House kitchen garden, at the White House in Washington. Nearing a milestone birthday, Michelle Obama describes herself as “50 and fabulous.” She’s celebrating already and a big birthday bash is in the works. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
"I have never felt more confident in myself, more clear on who I am as a woman," the first lady told Parade magazine when asked about the birthday. She started the celebration last week by spending extra time with girlfriends in Hawaii after her family's holiday vacation there. It was an early birthday present from the president. On Saturday, she'll be toasted at a White House party where guests have been advised to come ready to dance, and to eat before they come.
Second presidential terms can be freeing for first ladies, just as they are for presidents, because there is no next election to fret over. But while Mrs. Obama is over the hump of her first lady tenure, with just three years remaining, it's unclear if she will take on new or different roles.