He may have been one of the most powerful men in the world, but former US President Barack Obama is like any other parent at heart.
Earlier this week, Obama attended an event for the Beau Biden foundation, which strives to protect abused and neglected children throughout the United States. In a bid to help past vice president Joe Biden raise money for the charity, Obama spoke about his own experiences as a parent.
Obama’s two daughters, Malia and Sasha, were just 10 and 7 respectively when he was inaugurated, making them the youngest children to live in the White House since the Kennedy administration. Shortly after moving to Washington, Obama shed tears describing the family’s move from Chicago and Malia’s decision to bring her preschool scrapbook.
Now 19 and 16, Malia and Sasha have grown from the young girls who entered the spotlight in 2009. Obama recalls the pain of recently leaving Malia at Harvard University to begin her college life. “It was rough,” he said, likening the experience to “open heart surgery.” He added that he managed to hold back his emotions until his daughter was out of sight. “I did not cry in front of her, but on the way back the Secret Service was looking straight ahead, pretending they weren’t hearing me.”
While the crowd laughed, the former President spoke seriously about the need to treasure family and memories, and appreciate the little things. “It’s a reminder that, at the end of our lives, whatever else we accomplished, the things we’ll remember are the joys that our children – and hopefully, way later, our grandchildren – will miss,” he said. “Holding their hands, swinging them on a swing, listening to them talk about what happened at school… Simple stuff, but ultimately that’s what matters.”