For one former first lady, Mother's Day isn't just reserved for moms directly related to us but also other women who have shaped our lives in various ways. On Thursday, just days before Mother's Day, Michelle Obama echoed that reminder of universal love and gratitude. In a photo posted to her Instagram account, the former first lady gave a heartfelt shoutout to the women who "often go unrecognized."
"I wanted to take a moment to shine a light on those women in our lives who may not be our mothers, but have nonetheless played an important role in nurturing us," Obama wrote on Instagram. "I’ve been grateful to be surrounded by so many strong, intelligent, warm-hearted women who, along with my mother, have made me who I am."
The former first lady mentioned her grandmother LaVaughn Dolores Johnson, great-aunt Robbie, Czerny Brasuell, who mentored her at Princeton University, and Eleanor Kaye Wilson, who is Sasha and Malia Obama's godmother. Obama endearingly referred to Wilson as "Mama Kaye" in her post.
Detailing her relationships with each woman, Obama wrote about how they taught her crucial lessons in leadership, resilience, diligence, love, and the need to occasionally step out of her comfort zone. "So if there’s a Mama Kaye or a Czerny, a Grandma LaVaughn or an Aunt Robbie in your life," Obama wrote in her Instagram caption, "make sure to show them some love this weekend, too."
In 2018, Obama turned to Instagram once again to leave a warm message on Mother's Day. That year, the former first lady shared a photo of her own mother, Marian Robinson, alongside a much younger Obama. "It’s impossible for any picture to truly capture what my mother, Marian, has meant to me," Obama wrote in 2018. "Happy #MothersDay to all of the moms out there, and especially to my own."
On an even more personal front, Obama has spoken candidly about her experience with motherhood, and the ups and downs that seemed to come with the journey. In 2016, per VOA News, Obama sat alongside Oprah Winfrey at the White House summit on the State of Women. The former first lady talked about balancing domestic obligations with professional ones as a working mom.
At that convention, Obama told Winfrey, "I had had Malia, Barack was in the U.S. Senate, so I was basically mothering part time on my own, I had a full-time job." Obama was referring to her job as the vice president of community outreach at the University of Chicago Medical Center in the early 2000s. During that time, Obama said that she was trying to negotiate a part-time position so she could take care of her child.
"I tried part time because I thought, I have to figure this out, I have to be able to pick the kids up, I’ve got to be able to do all this. So I tried part time," she said, adding that part-time hours wouldn't pay enough.
"So I had vowed that if I continued to work, that I would never settle for part time," Obama went on to say. "I knew what my time and energy was worth." Whether it's others' impact on her life or her own commitment to balancing work and being a mom, it looks like Obama firmly believes women deserve recognition for their hard work.