I recently read Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, showcasing her entire life from when she was a little child growing up in the South Side of Chicago to when she eventually became First Lady of the United States of America all the way up to when she finally moved out of the White House.
It is a holistic story and I highly recommend the book to anyone looking for some perspective on one of the most powerful women of this past decade.
Honestly, I felt like Michelle lived a pretty good life as a child. Yes, she grew up in a modest home, where her parents had to work hard each and every day for money to pay the bills and the rent. But she was loved by her family. She had some good friends and inspirational mentors around her. And she was generally well taken care of by her family.
It really goes to show how every successful man or woman needs support – no matter how powerful or successful they eventually become. Each of them had a mom and a dad. Each of them had a family. Each of them was dependent children at a certain time and age. Each of them had vulnerabilities and flaws.
I guess one part of the book that stuck out to me was Michelle Obama’s mom and dad. How they sacrificed and worked hard to raise her and her brother. Her dad had multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease that sapped his mobility and ultimately took his life gradually over the course of decades. Yet, her dad showed resilience and heart going to work each and every day and simply not complaining about his condition.
He showed strength and courage to be the man of the house and treated his children with respect and kindness.
Michelle’s mom was similarly a hard-working woman who made sure that Michelle stayed out of trouble as a kid. And she similarly worked hard on humble jobs to make sure that there was food on the table and a hot meal every time her kids came home from school.
Michelle was aware of her relatively privileged condition and showed gratitude for her parents in her book. The fact that she had a loving brother, grew up in a two-parent loving household, and had a relatively peaceful childhood showed that she generally had it good.
Yes, no life was perfect. But I found that most of her worries as a child growing up was of the typical kind. Did she feel sufficient enough amongst the crowd? Did the boys like her enough? Stuff like that.
I think the book really shows the sacrifice that Michelle’s parents made in order to give her a beautiful life. It’s fair to say that she wouldn’t become the elegant and successful lady that she is now without the wonderful parenting and the sacrifices that her mom and dad made for her when she was still a child.
Again, no success story can do it alone. There are just so many factors in play that influence a person into developing into the person they are today.
Similarly, when Michelle became a grown woman, she similarly sacrificed her need for privacy to support her husband (the one and only Barack Obama) in his quests to serve the people of the United States of America. She was the primary one looking after their daughters. She was the one trying to keep the family intact.
She was the one making sure that her daughters similarly had enough time to grow up and live successful lives of their own. She was the one making sure that she was as present as possible in her daughters’ social activities and social circles.
Again, it feels like everything comes full circle. Michelle’s parents sacrificed a lot in order to build up a successful family. Now, Michelle, is similarly sacrificing her time to preserve her family and take care of her daughters.
That’s not to say that Michelle doesn’t look after her own needs. She needs to do that too obviously. Otherwise, there will be not enough energy nor bandwidth to appropriately take care of anything or anyone. So, it’s a fine line.
But, in general, sacrifice is all about looking after other people’s interests rather than only your own. It’s about looking after your family, your community, your parents, your children, your friends. People you care about. It’s about having a sense of responsibility to care for someone else.
I think this book showed me the importance of sacrifice in everyone’s lives. In order to develop your career, you may need to sacrifice some time hanging out with friends. In order to develop your family life, you similarly may need to swallow your pride and sacrifice other aspects of your life. Life is not unlimited. There will be decisions that you need to make that aren’t necessarily easy.
So, I feel like sacrifice is a relatively necessary part of anyone’s life. Especially when it comes to raising children and wanting them to become happy and successful.
My parents sacrificed a lot for me to grow up into the human being that I am today. They took me on trips to explore the world and open my perspective. They enrolled me in extracurriculars to show me that there was a life outside of school. And they enrolled me in summer school to make sure that I had a leg up in terms of getting into a college.
Sacrifice is everywhere around me. It is needed by human beings. And it shows the beauty of the world. Especially when it comes to raising children. That some people are able to put others first and be okay with that. It is an inspiration. And it’s the ideal showcase of goodness in humanity.