We had no idea we would be invited in the next day!
Looking at my Facebook feed, most of my friends are just as sad as I am. Pictures of them in front of the White House, at rallies, shaking President Obama’s hand, marching alongside the Obamas are beginning to fill my feed. I’m here for it. Yes I am.
My most memorable personal memories are of a private evening tour of the White House with a friend working for POTUS early in his first term. My son was in an umbrella stroller constantly kicking his shoes off as we peeked inside the Oval Office.
I was on cloud 9 standing in the press room at THE podium where many presidents and press secretaries spoke to the press pool each day.
Then there was that one time when I was granted the opportunity to visit the White House twice, but once where the First Lady said I needed to come closer for a photo (as I stood in the 2nd row of the auditorium inches away from her) and missed the opportunity. But….I was in her presence the very next year at a fundraiser where she and I actually had a conversation about school lunches.
The 2009 & 2013 Inaugurations
We froze our tootsies off back in January 2009 long before I knew about hand and foot warmers. But waking up at 4:30 a.m. or earlier in the morning to hop on the DC Metro with millions of other excited Americans was so worth it. We mapped out our trip the day before so we wouldn’t get lost and miss THE historical moment of the first African American President of the United States get sworn in.
We scored Inauguration Ceremony silver tickets by a friend in politics, stayed at our Best Man’s condo along with grandma and our 6 month old son and 3 year old daughter. Oh the memories of our kids back then.
Although we got caught in the tunnel of doom after walking for what seemed like forever towards the Capital, the group we found ourselves surrounded by made its way to the Inauguration after storming the gates designed to keep order in the crowd. No way. History was about to be made. We arrived there just in time to see absolutely nothing because we were in the midst of a standing crowd all on its toes to catch a smidgen of glimpse of Barack Obama. Good thing my husband had just purchased a new cell phone with TV capabilities.
We learned our lesson in 2009 and traded our winter coats, boots, and hats for a ball gown and tuxedo and expensive tickets to the 2013 Inaugural Ball. We decided to watch the Inauguration on TV while enjoying the warmth of our DC hotel with a perfect view of the church the Obamas attended the morning of. Yes, we saw the motorcade and was just as excited as if we were in that historic Black church.
I don’t ever recall being this excited about any of this political pomp and circumstance on this level. But this was different. Having an African American family in the White House as a new mother was exhilarating! Yes, I know that both Hillary and Laura had young children in the White House, but I wasn’t a mother then.
This was different.
Today, my children are just about the same ages as Malia and Sasha when they first entered the White House. It has been exciting to watch them grow up in the White House and turn into the young ladies they are today. What was ever more exciting was watching First Lady Michelle Obama do her thing in the White House. I was in my glory when she made the role of the First Lady her own. Picking out china for state dinners, etc. was not just what she was about.
I watched her exercise, flex her arms, and create programs for our kids that got them moving and eating better. I watched her give powerful speeches at graduations, interviewed by my favorite late night talk show hosts, Oprah, etc. I rarely missed her on any special she was on.
So excuse me if I mourn the end of an era that may never happen again in my lifetime. The office of the FLOTUS is now being led by the daughter of a President right now. I’m open to some change but this?
The only President that my children have known has been an African American male with an intact family. A lifestyle they have grown up with, but countless other children who look like mine have not. To see this in the White House has been just what little black and brown Americans needed to see.
“If you don’t see yourself, you don’t see the possibilities.” – Michelle Obama
This nastiness of the last election has changed the interactions between friends and family across the land. I feel it and have so for quite some time. It’s not a good feeling as words go unspoken, eyes averted, Facebook posts revealing. I do admit that I’m glad that things are clear now. This election has caused me to turn my focus inward toward my family, close loved ones and re-evaluate relationships. But that’s a conversation for another day.
I’ve always said that once the Obamas leave the White House that I would continue to follow them wherever they go. I’ll be the first in line when both of their books drop. I cannot wait! I’m excited to learn that they both plan to continue working with our boys and girls as they each have in the past.
It’s truly been an honor having them as our President and First Lady of the United States. I loved that they loved out loud.
Now, we mourn.
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