Obama compares dropping Malia off at Harvard to having open heart surgery


Malia Obama, the oldest daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama, is starting college this year. Last year, she deferred her enrollment for a gap year. But this year she’s attending her parent’s alma mater, Harvard, ready for all those freshman experiences like bringing your own pepper to the cafeteria, sticking your red Solo cup in your sleeve so it won’t get stolen and getting so drunk at Halloween you end up in someone else’s costume. Okay, it’s possible Malia and I will have different frosh memories. But nonetheless there is one she’s already had that stays with a person for a lifetime – saying goodbye to her parents. Barack, The Former President of the United States (FPOTUS – the F is silent) was in Delaware on Monday at a reception for the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. He was there to support his friend and former VP, Joe Biden and the foundation, named after Joe’s son Beau. He gave a short (no really – under five minutes!) speech in which he found a way to work in saying goodbye to Malia and casually suggested it was somewhat like open-heart surgery.

Watching kids leave for college is difficult for any parent—including former President Barack Obama.

The former commander-in-chief revealed how emotional it was for him to send his eldest daughter Malia Obama, 19, to college this year during a short speech at an event for the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children in Delaware.

“For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast,” the 44th president said in a video published by WDEL 101.7FM. “I dropped off Malia at college, and I was saying to Joe and Jill [Biden] that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery.”

However, Obama was able to hold back the waterworks until he and his wife Michelle Obama left the campus.

“I was proud that I did not cry in front of her,” Obama said, “but on the way back, the secret service was looking straight ahead pretending they weren’t hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose. It was rough.”

[From E! News]

True story, my father would get so emotional over my departure for school, he’d picked a fight with me every time I returned for the Fall semester. Then he’d feel terrible and call me after I got there and say something beautifully sentimental that would just ruin me. Dads are messes. If you watch the video, it really seems like FPOTUS walked his speech around the block just so he could tell that story about Malia. As if the pain is still so raw, he’ll find a way to work her into every conversation. Like, Michelle will be talking about something that happened at the grocery store and all of a sudden FPOTUS will look off wistfully and say, “remember when Malia was so small she sat in the cart? ”

I feel for FPOTUS, I really do. Because you know what else felt like open-heart surgery? Watching the Obamas walk out of the White House. Only that was more like a transplant where the replacement heart went missing and now the country is lying on the surgery table with a giant, gaping hole where the heart is supposed to be and can’t fight off infection no matter how hard we try …

But this isn’t about us. This is about the Obamas and Malia’s exciting future at Harvard.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photo credit: WENN Photos and Getty Images

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35 Responses to “Obama compares dropping Malia off at Harvard to having open heart surgery”

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  1. Her Higness says:

    very toucing story, malia is the luckiest girl in the world! michelle too! and sasha :)

  2. paranormalgirl says:

    I am not looking forward to when my kids go off to school. I’m such a stoic person on the outside, but I will be a puddle of tears and dignity when I drop them off.

  3. Originaltessa says:

    Aww, this story rings so true. He’s such a sap as a father. My dad cries at everything. My sister had to take me to college because my parents were being embarrassingly emotional, it was best to just say our goodbyes at home.

  4. wood dragon says:

    Now that’s a real dad. Love him.

  5. phatypopo says:

    I’m not crying, you’re crying

  6. Carmen says:

    I remember taking my son up to Bowdoin for his first semester. I bawled all the way back to New York.

    (But two weeks later, oh wow, the blessed peace and quiet…)

  7. gwen says:

    I miss him.

  8. Michelle says:

    I can relate 100%. It was almost like a death to me. I didn’t cry in front of my son when we dropped him off, but I did cry on the way home and pretty much every night for at least two weeks. Although we text, SnapChat, and we see each other during the football games, it is not the same as having him physically at home. And I know that it will never be the same again. My daughter is a senior in high school, so I am about to do this all over again. I am already having weepy moments and I have a year to go. No one prepared me for this feeling.

    • konspiracythory says:

      @Michelle, yes – it sounds melodramatic, but after dropping my son off for his freshman year last year I almost felt like I was in mourning. People laugh because my son’s school is less than half an hour from my house, but that’s not the point. I think we mourn the ‘death’ of their childhood, of things ever being the same again, etc.

      This year, drop-off was a lot easier because I know how happy he is at school (case in point, we dropped him off a month ago and haven’t seen him yet – we do text every couple of days though). There are times I feel like I’m over missing him, and then I start to tear up typing this, so…

  9. Nicole says:

    Was going to say the same thing: this is how I felt seeing you leave the WH

  10. CynicalAnn says:

    My daughter went away last year. The whole process of moving her across was country was so overwhelming and stressful, that I really was almost relieved when we dropped her off. I lost it about a week later when she called home and wanted me to send her baby pictures-she and her roommates were looking at each other’s. Looking again at those sweet photos, and realizing how fast it all went-I just could not stop crying.

  11. Leslie says:

    I’m crying. That’s so sweet

  12. mayamae says:

    I just watched a documentary that followed four 8 y/o girls, in their first year of boarding school. Two of the girls really struggled, and one continued to cry for months, so her mom had have the father call instead of her. It was so sad watching all of the pain – on both ends – and the parents had no real reason to send their kids away. In fact, one of the mothers struggled to describe the guilt and the father used the words inflicting pain.

    The family with the girl who took it the hardest had a son several years older who also boarded. They talked of how well he did and he loved it so much he rarely came home on breaks. And then at the end, that son interviewed that he didn’t go home because it was so painful to go home and have to leave again. The parents of these two were a military family who had to move about England every couple of years, and sent the children away so they would have stability in their lives. Seems to me that having your parents actually caring for you themselves would be more stable. At the end, all the little girls seemed happy and adjusted. But they then explained that they cope by “forgetting about” their parents, which lessened their grief. It was just so sad because all of the mothers really suffered, and the girl who struggled the most – her father was deployed to Afghanistan. So the mother has a husband, and two young children but had an empty life other than her dog. She was so alone.

    I imagine American parents struggling when their 18 y/o graduate must seem comical to people who sent away their grade schoolers.

  13. Keaton says:

    I miss him so much! :(

  14. Meg says:

    My mother dropped me off and didn’t even say goodbye, no hug didn’t say anything. I remember standing there thinking she’ll remember she just forgot this is a big moment. Nope she just walked away

    • Vernie says:

      Sending you an internet hug, Meg.

    • mayamae says:

      Maybe she walked away to hide her tears? I’m an only and went to the same college as my BFF. Her mother was going through it for the third time and grabbed my mother and dragged her off before she could break down. She was also a widow, so she was going home to an empty house.

  15. teacakes says:

    My parents took it hard too, but I couldn’t wait to go – I do get that it’s hard for parents to go home and contemplate the ‘empty nest’, it’s rather natural to be a bit sad about such a major change.

    But damn did it hurt to see the Obamas walk out of the White House with the knowledge of who was now in it. And I’m not even American.

  16. Linda says:

    Its nothing like open heart surgery. Watching my husband recover after open heart surgery and hear the agony of the family of the man in the next room as he coded after open heart surgery. No comparison.

  17. Lizzie says:

    Hecate – my dad did the SAME THING. the summer before i left for college i was in a perpetual state of “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM” and it took me a few semesters to figure it out and when I did, when he tried to needle me i just said “hey – just say “i’m going to miss you” before you destroy our relationship, ok?” and he did! it was as if it never occured to him. dads are weird.

  18. Des says:

    I know he loves both his kids but you can tell he and Malia have that first born connection thing going.

  19. Somegirl says:

    My son is only one and this has me wanting to pre-cry thinking about him going off to school in 17 years! Of course, having just spent my first night away from him in his entire life, I might just be extra emotional. But god, why do they have to grow up so fast?! 😭😭😭😭

  20. Miss M says:

    This story is so endearing. I miss POTUS 44. Malia is one lucky daughter. Good luck at Havard, Malia! You will do great!!!!

  21. Pita says:

    “Only that was more like a transplant where the replacement heart went missing and now the country is lying on the surgery table with a giant, gaping hole where the heart is supposed to be and can’t fight off infection no matter how hard we try …”
    Hecate, I can’t stop my tears, this is it, this is how I feel, thank you for putting it into words.

  22. Anna says:

    It’s nothing like open heart surgery.

  23. Emily says:

    FPOTUS (The P is silent)

    I LOVE YOU! I will be saying this from now on :)

  24. Des says:

    Literally nobody has ever piled on Goop for showing her human emotions. People can be rich and successful and still have emotions like all other humans. Pls don’t excuse your shittiness as a human being by trying to co-opt the rest of us.

  25. Who ARE These People? says:

    Oh good lord. How do you know she didn’t deserve the PA position? What do you know about how hard her father worked to ease loan conditions for students and open more educational doors for them all? Your comment is just jealous and hateful. Her parents did a lot to help all Americans, whether all Americans know it and appreciate it or not.

  26. Veronica says:

    LOL I was just waiting for some genius to turn his utterly innocuous comment into A Thing in the comments. Oh my God, that Obama. Using hyperbolic metaphor to describe the bittersweet pain of watching a child go off on a major step into adulthood. How dare he!

  27. Jerusha says:

    But, you know, he’s Black, so at least one jealous hater had to weigh in. Wouldn’t be CB without them. She probably thinks the trumps are a model family.