The star-studded September issue of British Vogue, which was guest edited by the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, is filled with intelligent and diverse women including Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Jameela Jamil, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Michelle Obama, among others.
Titled “Forces For Change”, the edition, according to Sussex’s Instagram account features “a diverse selection of women from all walks of life, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness.”
For the magazine’s back Q&A feature, Markle revealed that she wanted to have someone “kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity” and that person couldn’t be anyone but the former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
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In the lengthy interview, Michelle opened up about motherhood and what it has taught her.
“Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried – especially at first. As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal,” she said.
“What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters. In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn’t be more different. One speaks freely and often, one opens up on her own terms. One shares her innermost feelings, the other is content to let you figure it out. Neither approach is better or worse, because they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths.
Motherhood has taught me that, most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be. Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside. Motherhood has also taught me that my job is not to bulldoze a path for them in an effort to eliminate all possible adversity. But instead, I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own.”
On the advice she gives her daughters, she said: “Don’t just check the boxes you think you’re supposed to check, like I did when I was their age. I tell them that I hope they’ll keep trying on new experiences until they find what feels right. And what felt right yesterday might not necessarily feel right today. That’s OK – it’s good, even. When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because it sounded like a job for good, respectable people. It took me a few years to listen to my intuition and find a path that fit better for who I was, inside and out.
Becoming who we are is an ongoing process, and thank God – because where’s the fun in waking up one day and deciding there’s nowhere left to go? That’s something I wish I’d recognised a little earlier. As a younger woman, I spent too much time worrying that I wasn’t achieving enough, or I was straying too far from what I thought was the prescribed path. What I hope my daughters will realise a little earlier is that there is no prescribed path, that it’s OK to swerve, and that the confidence they need to recognise that will come with time.”
Michelle also added her approach to motherhood and her relationship with her daughters wouldn’t have been any different if they were boys.
“It would be exactly the same. My parents, particularly my father, taught my brother and me at an early age to treat boys and girls exactly the same. When I was still in elementary school, my dad bought my brother a pair of boxing gloves. But when he came home from the store, he was carrying not one, but two pairs of gloves. He wasn’t going to teach his son to punch without making sure his daughter could throw a left hook, too,” she said.
“Now, I was a little younger and a little smaller than my brother, but I kept up with him. I could dodge a jab just like he could, and I could hit just as hard as him, too. My father saw that. I think he wanted to make sure that my brother saw that as well.”
Asked about what she thinks her 15-year-old would say to her after seeing her current state in life, Michelle gave a very candid response.
“I love this question. I had a lot of fun when I was 15, but when it came right down to it, teenage-me was pretty by the book – straight As, through-the-roof standards for herself. So I imagine that she’d be proud of how far I’ve come – but she wouldn’t let me off the hook, either.
I feel like she’d give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She’d remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they’re dreaming too big. She’d tell me to keep fighting for them. If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too.”