When it comes to fatherhood, former President Barack Obama takes his duties seriously. From diaper changes to college send-off's, Obama worked hard to make sure he was there for his daughters, even as a busy politician. In the March 29 episode of his Renegades podcast with Bruce Springsteen, the the former president and his friend talked about fatherhood, including some very sweet anecdotes about their families. For example, Barack Obama talked about reading Harry Potter to Sasha and Malia, and the story will make you tear up.
In the episode, titled "Finding Home: Fatherhood," Obama discussed the more lighthearted aspects of being a dad, like spending time with his daughters. "There’s nothing I enjoyed more than just hanging out with my kids," Obama said. However, the process of running for, and serving in, office — as an Illinois state senator, a U.S. senator, and eventually president — meant he didn't have as much time for family as he might have liked. But funnily enough, he found that actually serving as president meant that it was a little easier to see his daughters. "What I didn’t anticipate was the fact that I get to spend much more time with my kids once I’m president. Because now I’m living above the store," he told Springsteen. Because his commute (from the White House living quarters to the Oval Office) was just a few staircases, he could set a firm rule of being "home" for family dinners.
"Unless [I'm] overseas, I'm going to be home at 6:30 for dinner," Obama said. "And I’m going to be sitting there and I’m going to be entirely absorbed with stories about the annoying boys and the weird teacher and the drama in the cafeteria, reading Harry Potter and tucking them in and listening to whatever music they’re now listening to."
Obama also talked about the highs and lows of being a dad: the overwhelming feeling of joy and unconditional love, contrasted with the fear of disappointing those you love. "The minute I saw that little creature with those big eyes looking up at me, I said 'my goodness, I will do anything for you,'" Obama said, talking about Malia's birth. "The love of being a father was not something I had to work on. It was physical, it was emotional, spiritual, you know?" he added. "You just [don't] want to disappoint them. And the idea of disappointing your family ... I could not abide," Obama said.
He explained how for him, the true challenge of fatherhood was the exhausting nature of his work. He'd spend days at a time gone, attending town hall meetings, running for office, and eventually campaigning for the presidency. Michelle, he said, challenged him to carve out time for his family. "From Michelle’s perspective," Obama stated, "family was not just a matter of love ... but was a matter of physically being present."
During the hardest times, Obama stated, his family reminded him why he worked so hard as a senator, and then as U.S. president. "In an occupation in which I’m dealing daily with mayhem, chaos, crisis, death, destruction," the former POTUS explained, "that actually was my lifeline ... I always say that the degree to which Michelle and those girls sacrificed and lifted me up, kept me going."