Monday, November 10, 2008

First Grandma Goes to Washington

Hello! This post is not about President Obama's grandmother. It's about the First Lady's mother. If you want to know about the president's grandmother, click here.

michelle obama with her mother and daughters
Thanks to President-elect Obama's winning the election, we now have not only a black First Family and First Lady, we also have a visible First Grandmother in Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, who helps take care of Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10. She will join the family in the Washington, but may not necessarily live in the White House, reports new sources. (The woman in the red shirt in the picture above is Robinson.)

We saw Robinson with the family throughout the campaign, and here is the beginning of a profile from this spring on the future First Grandmom from The Boston Globe that shows how critical Robinson is to The First Family:
CHICAGO - She is the linchpin of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and yet she does not raise money, plot strategy, lead conference calls, or carry a BlackBerry, which, in her day, was an unassuming fruit that grew on bushes.

Marian Robinson does, though, carry an exalted title in this race: mother-in-law. And from that perch, she makes the whole thing run.

A steely 70-year-old matriarch with a raspy voice and seen-it-all laugh, Robinson manages the family while Obama and his wife, Michelle, venture to the far reaches of the campaign trail. (Boston Globe, May 2008)
You may also watch this video of the profile from the paper and hear Robinson speak herself. The interview reveals that she is very much a typical grandmother, tempted to spoil her granddaughters with foods of which their parents disapprove.

Also, ABC News ran a story today about the grandmother-effect and the Obama campaign, discussing Obama's grandmother, the recently deceased Marilyn Dunham, and Sasha and Malia's maternal grandmother, Robinson:
Now that the Obamas are headed to the White House, Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, will be making the move as well. Family friends have told the New York Times that the Obamas relied on Robinson to care for Malia and Sasha Obama while their parents were out campaigning.

Robinson, a widow and retired bank secretary from the South Side of Chicago, will follow the Obamas to Washington D.C. to support the first family, according to the Obamas' family friend Verna Williams.

None of this is anything new or unusual to American families who have integrated grandmoms and granddads into their households, especially to assist with or sometimes take over child care.

Of course, the Obamas are by all accounts an intact and nurturing family, and they don't use a nanny to take care of their two young daughters -- they use grandma. (ABC News)
I read in a British newspaper that Mrs. Obama persuaded her mother to move into the White House. I'm sure that's a better solution than having her live elsewhere in D.C., but Robinson will miss her Chicago home.
Michelle Obama's mother has reluctantly agreed to leave her lifelong home on Chicago's South Side and move to Washington to help smooth the transition for the grand-daughters who dote on her.

... They will move in to the White House after Barack Obama is inaugurated on January 20. But President George W Bush and his wife Laura will greet their successors at the South Portico on Monday before giving them a tour of their new home - giving them the chance literally to measure the drapes.

It is the first time in living memory that three generations of a new presidential family have moved en masse to Washington, although Mrs Robinson has not yet decided whether to take rooms in the White House itself or live nearby. (UK Telegraph)
Without my maternal grandmother available to look after me, I don't know what my mother, a school teacher in New Orleans, La., when I was younger, would have done. As I watch the Obama family supported by a loving grandmother, I remember my own MaDear.

Grandma Robinson with Obama's election night
Marian Robinson, far right, sits with her son-in-law, President-elect Barack Obama, her daughter, Michelle Obama, and her granddaughters Malia and Sasha, awaiting election results Nov. 4, 2008.


Patrick Roberts said...

I heard recently that, despite all the perks that come with living in the white house, the first family still has to pay for any food that their private guests consume said...
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