Monday, February 23

Someone's in the kitchen with Michelle Obama

As I was cruising through stories and pictures about the Oscars (I confess I watched mainly to see Hugh Jackman sing and dance), I happened to see a link for a story about Michelle Obama inviting culinary students to the White House. Had to go check it out. You can read the story, but the video is so much more interesting.

What I really like about this story is that it reinforces Mrs. Obama's efforts to emphasize the importance of family. I also like the fact that she reinforces the role of the White House. Most of all, though, I love the fact that she gives a shout out to the White House kitchen staff. We know there are lots of people working all the time for a variety of events--some public, some diplomatic, some private. So what was very, very cool was the fact that she gave those culinary students an opportunity to learn about internships at the White House. Now that is a serious cooking gig.

There has been some chatter about Michelle Obama and how she will fill the role of First Lady. Comparisons to Jackie Kennedy started early; references to Hillary Clinton as First Lady and her very public non-traditional stance have also abounded. I think in Michelle Obama we see a very intriguing mix of the mom who wants to focus on her family and the woman as professional.

I have a weird sort of digression here. I have a crush on Meryl Streep. It's a non-sexual crush; I just think she's an incredible talent and would love to meet her. I'm sure I'm not alone. I was looking up some information on her in and discovered some other web sites and then found there are a bunch of interview clips on YouTube. I shouldn't be surprised, but I've been watching the interviews she did when promoting Mamma Mia!, a movie I loved.

So what does Meryl Streep have to do with Michelle Obama? Ms. Streep has done an incredible job of separating her professional life from her family life. She has made her children a priority. We know little about them because she has made a point to insure their privacy and some element of normalcy for them. And yet she has this legendary career as a remarkably gifted actress. Her professional life is in the spotlight. Her private life is not.

I think that Michelle Obama will do much the same to the extent that she is able. She lives in the White House, which is meant to be the people's house. And yet, there are family quarters which are private.

I have a lot of respect for parents who wish to protect their children, who wish to try to give them something akin to "normal," whatever that may be, but who certainly want to try to raise their children out of the very public eye. Michelle Obama's professional life as First Lady is very much in the spotlight. Perhaps she will be able to manage to keep her private, family life somewhat private and public only when she chooses it to be.