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Video: First lady: ‘Having a ball’

  1. Closed captioning of: First lady: ‘Having a ball’

    >>> al, thank you very much. now to the state of the union , not the speech, but the marriage between barack and michelle obama . this week, the first lady took me on a walk through the white house and spoke candidly about the impact life in the executive mansion has on a relationship.

    >> you know, surprisingly, here we have more time together than we've had in years, because the pace of the campaign is just ridiculous. so, you know, he comes home -- he's home at 6:30 and he may stop and do a little work. we have dinner as a family. the thing that we don't get to do as much is go out and do our date nights as much, because it just causes more commotion.

    >> could you have imagined the commotion? when you came to new york, and i happen to remember that -- i saw the helicopters, coast guard cutters. how do you -- if every time you go out on a date, it's front-page news, how have you adapted?

    >> this is a nice spot. the chef is great. you know, you can do all kinds of things. and we weren't really going out kind of people. i mean, we're the kind of folks who go to the kids' games and we have friends over and we watch movies, and you know, our lives are very conducive to this because we just are sort of boring anyway. so, we have movie night where barack and i will go down and watch a movie. so, we find our way.

    >> you said nobody's going to cry for me because i'm living in the white house . and i'm not asking you to tell me a sob story, but in general terms, is the presidency, in your opinion, tough on a marriage?

    >> it can be, but you have so much support. i mean, we were talking about this. you have, first of all, my mother lives with me.

    >> yeah. is she going to stay, by the way? she was supposed to be for transition.

    >> she's happy. shh, don't jinx it. she's doing good. no, she's well. i'm hopeful, because it does come in handy when you're doing an interview and kids are doing homework and somebody can still do multiplication while we're, you know. so, having another adult helps. but we haven't found this to be stressful on our family. we're not doing laundry. we're not, you know, worrying about who's going to cook the meal. i mean, there are the stresses of everyday life that they just pound on families, and a lot of that stuff is gone. now, there are broader international, national crises that are pressures, but that's outside, you know. internally, we feel pretty blessed.

    >> if i leave here today and i don't ask you some question about fashion --

    >> oh, yeah.

    >> -- i will get kicked to the curb back in the office.

    >> all right, all right. fire away.

    >> could you have ever prepared yourself, mrs. obama, for the attention --

    >> no.

    >> -- paid to everything you wear? do you get up in the morning now, stand in front of the mirror and say what am i going to wear and what are they going to write about it?

    >> sometimes i do. sometimes i do. you know, this is another one of those efficiency things, you know, because i can't spend a lot of time thinking day to day. so you know, sometimes --

    >> does someone do it for you? does someone pick out an outfit for you?

    >> i do it with people, you know. you have help. you have folks who are going to get your clothes ready, and you know, i'll figure out what i'm going to wear over the course of a week or two even, so i don't have to think about. i can say tomorrow i've got this, so this is on the rack. i'm putting it on and calling it a day. so, i don't think that much about the response to it. i've learned wear what i like, wear what's comfortable, and that really depends on the occasion.

    >> anything you've read about, you know, a comment about an outfit? it must feel good. it's only human that it would feel good when people write nice things. anything people have written or said that you thought that's not fair, i like that dress!

    >> you know, i really turn off -- you know, and i do that with my husband and me. you know, i don't take in a lot of feedback in that regard because you don't want comments like that to influence who you are. you can't feed on any negative. i just sort of find a way to keep that out. and if there's any criticism that's helpful, i take it in and try to --

    >> learn from it.

    >> -- learn from it, right.

    >> last question. is this fun? is fun even a word that can be used to describe what you're living through right now?

    >> i am having a ball.

    >> really?

    >> i really am. i mean, i love people, first of all, and i think it would be hard to be in this position if you fundamentally didn't love people. so, i come to this with a certain level of just joy in hug hugging. i'm a hugger.

    >> i know.

    >> you know.

    >> it took me back a little bit, but it's okay.

    >> so, my life is filled with these wonderful interactions with americans all over the country. that's what i do every day. my staff is terrific, my kids are healthy, my husband's fine. he's got a hard job, but he can handle it, you know? i'm having a ball, and hopefully, i'm doing some good in the process. so, you know, check back with me in a year, but right now i'm doing all right.

    >> to quote another first lady, it takes a village and your mother to have a normal life in the white house .

    >> she likes the fact that mrs. robinson is there helping out with the kids.

    >> oh, yeah.

    >> and we want to thank mr. obama for her hospitality it was fun.

    >>> up next, how to build

By
TODAY contributor
updated 2/4/2010 9:42:03 AM ET 2010-02-04T14:42:03

You would think that the pressures of the presidency and the intense public scrutiny that comes with living in the White House would be tough on a marriage. Not so, says first lady Michelle Obama.

“We haven't found this to be stressful on our family,” Mrs. Obama told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in the second half of an extensive White House interview that aired Thursday.

The first lady credited a number of factors for keeping the tension level down, starting with the fact that her mother is living with the family in the White House to help out. Then there’s all the staff she has, from housekeepers to chefs, to make daily life easier.

“You have so much support. First of all, my mother lives with me,” Mrs. Obama said.

‘Don’t jinx it’
Lauer mentioned that Marian Robinson, Mrs. Obama’s mother, had moved into the White House last year only to help her daughter with the transition to her new life.

Mrs. Obama smiled and put a finger to lips. “Shh,” she cautioned playfully. “Don’t jinx it.”

Having her mother around is a big help when she’s dealing with her official duties and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, are doing homework, Mrs. Obama said.

In addition, the White House staff is there to lighten the load of household chores. “I count those blessings,” Mrs. Obama continued. “I’m not doing laundry. We’re not worrying about who’s going to cook the meal. I mean, the stresses of everyday life just pound on families, and a lot of that stuff is gone. Now, there are broader, international, national crises that are pressures. But that’s outside. Internally — we feel pretty blessed.”

Home for dinner
When her husband was campaigning for the presidency, family time was tough to come by. Now, Mrs. Obama said, she can count on seeing her husband every evening for dinner.

TODAY
The first lady said that having her mother, Marian Robinson (right), live in the White House is a big help in raising daughters Sasha (in foreground) and Malia.
“Surprisingly here, we have more time together than we’ve had in years because the pace of a campaign is just ridiculous,” Mrs. Obama said as she led Lauer on a walking tour of her famous residence. “He’s home at 6:30. And he may stop and do a little work. But we have dinner as a family.”

The biggest drawback is that going out together as a normal couple is nearly impossible.

“The thing that we don’t get to do as much is go out and do our date nights as much, because it just causes more commotion,” Mrs. Obama told Lauer.

The First Couple tried to do it when they first moved into the White House, but the logistics and security requirements are daunting. And when the president took heat for taking his wife out to dinner in New York, they started to rethink it and decided to stay in more.

“Our lives are very conducive to this, because we just are sort of boring anyway,” Mrs. Obama said.

TODAY
“We’re not going-out people,” Michelle Obama said as she described the joys of stay-at-home dates with her husband in the White House. “We’re sort of boring anyway.”

And when you come down to it, the White House isn’t a terrible place for a date, she added.

“The chef is great there. You can do all kinds of things. We weren’t really going-out kind of people. I mean, we’re the kind of folks who go to the kids’ games and we have friends over, and we watch movies. We find our ways.”

What she wears
Lauer asked Mrs. Obama whether she could ever have imagined the breathless attention that is paid to what she chooses to wear.

“No,” she replied.

“Do you get up in the morning now and stand in front of a mirror and say, ‘What am I going to wear, and what are they going to write about it?’ ” Lauer asked.

Slideshow: Michelle Obama's effortless style

“Sometimes I do,” the first lady admitted. But, she added, she doesn’t have time to worry about it. She does have assistants who help pick clothes, and she tries to plan it all in advance so it’s not a daily issue.

“I’ll figure out what I’m going to wear over the course of a week or two even so that I don’t have to think about it,” Mrs. Obama said. “So I don’t think that much about the response to it. I’ve learned [to] wear what I like, wear what’s comfortable. And that really depends on the occasion.”

She tries not to pay attention to the reaction to her fashion choices.

“You don’t want comments like that to influence who you are,” Mrs. Obama said. “You can’t feed on any negative. I just sort of find a way to keep that out. And if there’s any criticism that’s helpful, I take it in.”

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‘Having a ball’
It was time to end the interview.

“Last question,” Lauer said. “Is this fun? Is fun even a word that can be used to described what you’re living through right now?” Video: First lady: I’m ‘not that interesting’

“I am having a ball,” Mrs. Obama said emphatically. “I really am. I mean, I love people, first of all, and I think it would be hard to be in this position if you fundamentally didn’t love people. So, I come to this with a certain level of just joy in hugging — I’m a hugger.”

She ticked off all the things that are right in her life.

“My life is filled with these wonderful interactions with Americans all across the country. That’s what I do every day. My staff is terrific. My kids are healthy. My husband’s fine. He’s got a hard job, but he can handle it.

“I’m having a ball, and, hopefully, I'm doing some good in the process. Check back with me in a year. But right now, I’m doing all right.”

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