WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama does not want Chicago to take it personally that she has only been home once in the last year since her husband was sworn in as president last Jan. 22.
"Just tell Chicago, 'nothing personal.' It's kids," said Mrs. Obama, who turns 46 on Sunday.
The entire Obama family returned to their Kenwood home only once in 2009, on Valentines Day; causing she noted, some disruption. The return of the First Family closed down south Lake Shore Drive for their motorcade and security officials restricted access to the streets surrounding their house. President Obama swung by their home on Greenwood one time when he came to Chicago for a speech.
Mrs. Obama, a native South Sider, made her remarks about not visiting Chicago as much as Obama had anticipated during a wide ranging interview with seven reporters at a round table organized to discuss her first year and her plans for 2010, including taking the lead in an Obama administration drive to combat childhood obesity.
Mrs. Obama commented to the group sitting around a long dining room table in the White House Old Family Dining Room decorated two arrangements of magenta and pink flowers, roses and peonies. She was wearing over the knee brown Jimmy Choo boots and was sporting a shorter hair-do, the evidence of a bit of a haircut. A butler was standing by a table to coffee, cranberry juice and orange juice, with an assortment of cookies, scones, and cakes.
Then President-elect Obama said in December, 2008 that he expected to get back home "as often as possible, My expectation would be that, depending on what my schedule looks like, you know, we're going to try to get back here at least once every six weeks or couple of months."
I asked Mrs. Obama why the trips home never materialized. She said it all had to so with the busy schedules of Malia, 11 and Sasha, 8.
"Kids, because on Saturday there is ballet and Sasha did basketball last fall and there were games on Saturday, and then when basketball season was over, soccer season started for Malia, games were on Saturday, and then birthday parties and sleep overs and people visiting you. So, to find a weekend; 'where, you know, you go to the kids and go, 'you want to go to Chicago,'' she said, just never happened.
"...And before you know it its winter and 'we're not going now," she said. "January's out.."
She explained more about not making it to Chicago. "Its really life and the fact that the kids have built a life here and that's good and right now I want to encourage that life and not keep pulling them out. So its less our schedules than them Who's got kids? They dictate the weekend.'''
She does miss her Chicago life--shopping at the Target and Dominick's along Roosevelt Road.