Michelle Obama sat down with Gayle King for an hour-long interview at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, where she dished on family and more

By Jen Juneau
July 08, 2019 09:37 AM
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Eight years in the White House doesn’t exactly make it easy to make friends.

Michelle Obama made an appearance at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, where she opened up during an hour-long chat with Gayle King for CBS This Morning about how she and husband former Presisdent Barack Obama raised their daughters — Sasha, now 18, and Malia, 21 — during his presidency from 2009 to 2017.

“Our focus was to make sure they just did what they were supposed to do, and that meant we had to pretend like all the craziness around them wasn’t happening,” said the Becoming author, 55. “For eight years, it was like, ‘Yup, yup, your dad’s president. That doesn’t have anything to do with you. Just take your lil’ butt to school. Yes, you have security, just ignore them. They’re not here for you.’ “

That security, Mrs. Obama remembered, saw Malia and Sasha with “armed guards with them at all times” — something she realized made certain teenage milestones a bit of a challenge: “Imagine trying to have your first kiss [surrounded by] a bunch of men with [guns].”

Michelle Obama (L) and Gayle King at Essence Festival
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
The Obama family
Pete Souza/The White House via Getty

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The former first lady joked that “I’m surprised my kids have any friends” considering what going to sleepovers entailed for the girls growing up, detailing a too-real scenario.

“This is the call: It’s like, ‘Hello? Okay, we’re gonna need your social security number. We’re gonna need your date of birth. There are gonna be men coming to sweep your house,’ ” the former first lady said. ” ‘If you have guns and drugs, just tell them yes because they’re going to find it anyway. Don’t lie. They’re not gonna take ’em, they just need to know where they are.’ “

” ‘And thank you for having Malia and Sasha over. Oh by the way, there’s gonna be a man with a gun sitting outside of your door all night. Let him come in and use the bathroom. It would just be nice,’ ” she added.

Michelle Obama with her daughters and mother, Marian Robinson
Lawrence Jackson

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For Mrs. Obama and the former president, 57, raising two girls in the somewhat public eye was “stressful” — an experience that now as “empty nesters,” since Sasha recently graduated high school, means they get to spend some time “rediscovering” themselves as a couple.

“I’m looking over and I’m going, ‘Hey, you! There you are. Where have you been for 21 years?’ ” she joked of her current dynamic with her husband. “This is the beauty of finding a partner that you really love and respect because after all the highs and lows, the ups and downs … we have each other, which makes the journey worth it.”

“Not only were we parenting teenagers, but we were parenting teenagers where, every Saturday night, you had to worry about whether your kid was gonna wind up on Page Six,” she shared, admitting the couple are dealing with “so much less stress” in that aspect now.