Meghan Markle's September issue of British Vogue, "Forces for Change," is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving (to use a cliche that Meghan, a beautifully elegant writer, would never stoop to.) The magazine customarily features a Q&A on its final page—and Meghan secured none other than Michelle Obama, our forever First Lady, to do the honors. "My first thought was that it needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity. My second thought: it needed to be Michelle Obama," the Duchess of Sussex wrote.
Meghan asked Michelle, who sent the Duchess a message on Mother's Day, what she'd learned from motherhood. "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," Michelle replied. "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. 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," Michelle said of our forever First Daughters. "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," she added.
Meghan also asked Michelle to share the advice she gives Malia and Sasha. "There is no prescribed path," she responded. "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," she said. "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 recognized 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."
Michelle reflected on the Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program she established with the Obama Foundation to "empower adolescent girls around the world through education." "Today, nearly 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. That’s a tragedy—for the girls, of course, but also for all of us. Think of everything we’re missing out on. We know that when we educate girls, when we truly invest in their potential, there is no limit to the good it can do," she said. "I formed the Girls Opportunity Alliance because I’ve seen the power of education in my own life."
Michelle's 15-year-old self, she told Meghan, would "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."
The Duchess' final question was a sweet one: "What is the most beautiful sound that you've ever heard?" And Michelle's answer was equally lovely: "When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep. We loved to listen to the little sounds they’d make—especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming. Don’t get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that these days. But there is something so magical about having a baby in the house. Time expands and contracts; each moment holds its own little eternity."
"I’m so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan," Michelle said. "Savor it all."
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