President Obama opened up about his difficulties balancing career and family in an essay on fatherhood published Sunday in “More” magazine.
Obama wrote the essay to coincide with Father’s Day. Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama guest edited the magazine this month and appears on its cover.
Like many Americans with demanding careers, Obama admits he doesn’t always get things right. The president writes that his time away from home, first in the Illinois State Capitol, then in Washington, and most recently on the presidential campaign trail, “at times put a real strain on our marriage.” And he acknowledged that the “burden disproportionately – and unfairly – fell on Michelle, as happens to many women.”
“Our lives were thrown completely out of balance during a presidential campaign that kept me on the road almost constantly – leaving Michelle to carry an even heavier load for longer stretches of time. That’s why I call her the rock of our family – because she is. She always has been,” he writes.
But the president goes on to say that things actually got better when he became president, since his schedule became more predictable and he now “live[s] above the store,” as he puts it. “[T]o our surprise, moving to the White House was really the first time since the girls were born that we’ve been able to gather as a family almost every night,” he writes. Now, he can do things like go parent-teacher conferences and take time away from his schedule for his family.
“For example, at 6:30 pm, no matter how busy I am, I leave work to go upstairs and have dinner with my family. That’s inviolable. My staff knows that it pretty much takes a national emergency to keep me away from that dinner table,” he writes.
With his daughters now looking towards college, he’s wondering what life will be like without them around. “I’m already dreading that empty seat at the table when Malia goes off to school next fall,” he writes.