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Speaking Her Mind, Heart

Michelle Obama plans to be America's first mom

November 16, 2008|Robin Abcarian | Abcarian is a Times staff writer.

The year her husband was elected to the United States Senate, her salary nearly tripled, going from $122,000 to $317,000. Hospital officials have said the 2004 raise put her salary in line with those of its other vice presidents.

During the campaign, she often held round-table discussions and talked easily from firsthand knowledge about the stresses of balancing motherhood and work.

In a conversation with working mothers after visiting the day-care program at the University of South Carolina, Obama bemoaned a system that does not give full support to working moms.

"Being an outstanding mother should not be at the expense of being a good employee," she said. "Part time is a total scam, because part time is full time with less money. And you're labeled as a part-time person, and you still need child care! These are the realities of being a woman today, and that's been a frustration to me."

Whether she will use her bully pulpit in the White House to advance the cause of working mothers remains to be seen.

"My first job, in all honesty, is going to continue to be mom in chief," Obama told Ebony magazine. The Obamas are the parents of 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Natasha, who goes by the nickname Sasha.

"They are the light of our lives," she has often said on the stump. "They make me breathe in and out every day because they are precious."


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