Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lesson 2: Be there for your family, even if you're not around

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We wondered if his wife, Michelle, and their two children, Malia and Sasha, might join him on the day's trip, to participate in the blow-out-the-candles moment. But Obama had boarded the plane with Secret Service and campaign staffers, not family members. So he himself is something of an absentee father on his big day.

"Yesterday was the birthday celebration," he tells. "We get everything in, just not always on schedule when it's supposed to happen. Yesterday I sat on a lounge chair in a friend's backyard, watching my girls and Michelle dance. It was as nice a moment as I've had in a long time."

"I don't miss the important things. I haven't missed a dance recital. I haven't missed a parent-teacher conference. But there are some things I do miss, and those are some of the tradeoffs you make."

"But, look, there's no question there are sacrifices involved here. I'd like to say that quality time replaces quantity, but sometimes it doesn't. You know, a lot of the best moments of family life happen spontaneously. If you have less time to devote to them, there are fewer of those moments. What I've been able to do is create a zone of normalcy for my kids. Michelle's been wonderful about that. I have been able to transmit to them my absolute interest in them and my absolute love for them."