White House life

Sasha and Malia Obama grow up before our eyes

Nov. 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM ET

My, how they've grown!

Side-by-side photos of the Obamas celebrating their victory in 2008 and last night show just how much the president's daughters, Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14, have grown up during his first term. Their parents have four more years to look forward to -- a term that will include trying to keep their daughters out of the public eye as they navigate the teen years, dating and college applications.

Our surprise at how the girls have grown into young women is some evidence that Michelle and Barack have succeeded at their stated goal of keeping them out of the spotlight. NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted that the mainstream press has been good about honoring their privacy -- the girls do normal things like go out to movies with their friends in D.C. without worrying about paparrazzi.

During the campaign, Michelle talked to TODAY Moms about how she's kind of glad she has an iron-clad excuse to keep the girls off Facebook, for privacy reasons. But, being part of the president's family means politics is unavoidable: In fact, the Obamas' wholesome family image no doubt helped the president's re-election campaign.

In his victory speech on election night, Obama spoke to his daughters, saying, "Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you're growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I'm so proud of you guys."

But, he added, they're not getting another puppy. (The Obama's dog, Bo, was a campaign promise to the girls in 2008.) "For now one dog's probably enough," the president said.

Related content: The Election 2012 slideshow

In 2011, Michelle Obama told TODAY Moms that she makes sure White House staff know that the girls are supposed to clean their own rooms and do chores like regular kids. "We fight for their normalcy," she said. "I find myself checking with friends: 'How did the girls seem?' And they'll say, 'No, they're the same kids. They're the same girls.' I'm like, 'OK, good. Just tell me if you see anything. Just let me know.'"

For all parents, the photos of Sasha and Malia are a reminder of how all of our own kids are growing up, probably faster than we realize. Day to day, you don't see it, but you look up and it's four years later and your little girl is a teenager, or your baby's headed off to college. And hopefully, whether you're the leader of the free world or just a regular parent, when that day comes, you've given them all the love and wisdom they need to make their own way in life. It's true what they say, they days are long but the years are short.

Then... the Obamas celebrating their victory in 2008.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Then... the Obamas celebrating their victory in 2008.
Scott Olson / Getty Images /
... and now. What a difference four years makes!

Related stories:

First mom on Sasha and Malia: 'Just hoping I don't mess them up'

Your stories of voting with kids

Sunrise, sunset: This raising kids thing is taking forever

Barry Thumma / AP /
Enjoy a mother lode of photos that look at the busy lives of White House moms.
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