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Former first lady Michelle Obama says she’s looking toward retiring from public life at some point in the future so the next generation can carry on her political activism and social justice efforts.
“I’ve been telling my daughters I’m moving toward retirement right now, picking projects and chasing summer,” Obama told People magazine in an interview published Wednesday. Both of the Obama daughters — Sasha,19, and Malia, 22 — are in college.
“[Former President] Barack [Obama] and I never want to experience winter again,” she said. “We’re building the foundation for somebody else to continue the work so we can retire and be with each other — and Barack can golf too much, and I can tease him about golfing too much because he’s got nothing else to do.”
The ex-first lady has kept a busy schedule since leaving the White House in 2017. She wrote a bestselling memoir “Becoming,” which is now coming out in a special readers edition, she’s been involved in various entertainment projects like her new healthy eating puppet show “Waffles + Mochi,” on Netflix (part of the Obamas’ multi-year deal with the streaming service) and she actively campaigned for then-candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
On President Biden’s win, she said, “We breathe for a moment, but there’s still work to be done. That’s why Barack and I are focused on developing the next generation of leaders through the Obama Foundation … so that each year we step further out of the spotlight and make room for them.”
Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks in Atlanta. (Associated Press)
The Obama daughters were sent home from college at the beginning of the pandemic and she said just as she was getting used to being an empty nester they were back.
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“I was sort of celebrating that they were out building their lives and allowing me the emotional space to let them go. Well, they’re back!” she told People. But she said the time together “has allowed us to get some stolen moments back with our girls. Those recaptured moments have meant the world to us and I think they’ve made our relationships with our children even stronger.”
The family splits their time between their homes in Washington, D.C., and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
While in lockdown, Obama taught herself how to knit, already having made several bespoke hats for the 44th president.
She told the magazine she’s also taken up swimming during the pandemic as a lower impact way to stay in shape.
“Over quarantine, I actually did teach myself how to be a better lap swimmer, because what I’m finding in my old age is that the high-impact stuff that I used to do, as I’m approaching 60, it just doesn’t work,” she said. “So I thought, well, swimming is one of those low-impact, good cardio things.” She can almost swim a mile continuously now, she said.
She also said, like many others in lockdown, she went through a bit of a depression.
“Depression is understandable during these times,” she said. “I needed to acknowledge what I was going through, because a lot of times we feel like we have to cover that part of ourselves up, that we always have to rise above and look as if we’re not paddling hard underneath the water.”
What helps her through the normal highs and lows of life, she said she tells her daughters, is that “I’m old enough to know that things will get better.”
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