WASHINGTON (AP) — Extending the Mother’s Day celebration by a day, Michelle Obama on Monday saluted military mothers for the sacrifices they make both for their families and their country, and honored her own mother as the person who keeps her “standing up straight on my feet.”
The first lady joked that her mother, Marian Robinson, “never comes to anything” at the White House, except this annual Mother’s Day tea for military moms. Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, co-host the event as part of Joining Forces, their nationwide initiative to encourage the public to support military families and veterans.
Speaking of her mother, Mrs. Obama said the event “gives me an opportunity, once a year, to embarrass her by publicly stating how much my mom has meant to me in this realm of service that we’re doing here at the White House.”
Mrs. Robinson sat in the front row for the East Room event.
“There is no way I would be standing up straight on my feet if it weren’t for my mom, who is always there to look after our girls, to love them and to be mad at me when I’m disciplining them,” she told dozens of military mothers, grandmothers and children.
Mrs. Obama said her mother, who lives on the third floor of the White House, one floor above the Obama family, also has “been that shoulder for me to lean on.”
“I can always go up to her room and cry, complain, argue and she just says, ‘Go on back down there and do what you’re supposed to do,'” Mrs. Obama said. “So if my mom reflects the love and support that the moms here have given to their families, then we’re in good space here.”
In the State Dining Room before the remarks, White House staff members — including the executive chef, the pastry chef and the chief florist — manned three separate craft stations where they helped the children make gifts for their mothers and grandmothers. The gifts were Mother’s Day cards and gift boxes of soap, seeds planted inside paper cups embossed with the White House seal and flower pots they decorated to hold the eventual seedlings. The first lady and Jill Biden helped out at each station.
Near the end of the ceremony, a girl raised her hand and, in a tearful voice, told Mrs. Obama she didn’t get to do all the crafts with the first lady. Mrs. Obama linked the girl with an aide and promised that “you’re going to do every single craft that we have.”
Nine-time Grammy Award winner Norah Jones, herself a new mom to a 3-month-old boy, provided the entertainment. She said nothing makes a person appreciate their mother “like having a baby waking you up all night.” Jones played the piano and sang two songs: “Nearness of You” and “La La Lu,” a lullaby from Walt Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp.”