Every year, Michelle Obama considers quitting her job and staying home full-time to take care of her children. "It was a gift having my mother home every day. I want my kids to feel that way," she says. But having experienced the pleasures of work outside the home, she is reluctant to give up her independence. "Work is rewarding," she says. "I love losing myself in a set of problems that have nothing to do with my husband and children. Once you've tasted that, it's hard to walk away."
Then, too, there is that little-discussed fact that staying home with children can be—how else to put it?—less than intellectually stimulating. "The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill," she says. "My head starts to ache." When she mentioned it to her mother, Marian Robinson told her daughter she didn't think Michelle could handle the boredom of staying home with kids. Obama was surprised to hear that taking care of her had been boring, but now she embraces the idea of discussing it openly. "I like to talk about it," she says, "because I think every couple struggles with these issues. People don't tell you how much kids change things. I think a lot of people give up on themselves. They get broken, but if we can talk about it, we can help each other."