Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden at Annual Mother's Day Tea
State Dining Room
11:19 A.M. EDT
DR. BIDEN: Good morning, everyone. And thank you all for being here. It’s wonderful to welcome you to the White House.
Many of you know that I’m a proud military mom and grandmom. And I’m always honored to be in the presence of military families. My son Beau is a soldier in the Delaware Army National Guard, and he deployed for a year to Iraq. So while I’m always honored to be in the presence of our military families, I feel a special bond with other military moms.
I’ll never forget the day that Beau deployed; that feeling of pride and concern that military moms know all too well. Having Beau overseas was tough. It was a tough year for our entire family, especially my daughter in law, Hallie, and their two children, Natalie, and my grandson Hunter. But there were a lot of people who stepped up in different ways to support our family that year. A neighbor came over and shoveled the driveway in a snowstorm. The church included Beau’s name in the bulletin. And at Natalie’s school, her teacher hung a photo outside the door so when the children walked into Natalie’s classroom they always knew that her daddy was at war.
Through the whole experience, those acts of kindness meant so much to them and to us. While our sons and daughters serve so selflessly, having a community share the burden makes all the difference in the world.
And so for Mother’s Day, we wanted to simply say thank you to all the mother who have loved and supported us. Thank you for all that you do for your selflessness and for your sacrifice on behalf of our country.
And now, it is my great honor to introduce our country’s great supporter of military moms and families, my friend and partner, First Lady -- and Mom -- of the United States, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: Yay to Mother’s Day, to us moms. (Applause.) Hello, everyone. Welcome to the White House. And for some of you, welcome back to the White House. (Laughter.) I spoke to a couple of the kids; they were like, oh, I’ve been here before. (Laughter.) Been here, done that. So it’s good to have you guys back.
Thank you, Jill. Thank you for your friendship, your partnership, that great introduction. It’s been just wonderful working with you on Joining Forces. I also want to recognize all the Cabinet and senior military spouses we have here today.
And of course, I want to recognize my mom, Marian Robinson, who is here. (Applause.) Now, moms, grandmas, the one thing you have to understand about this woman -- first of all, she never comes to anything. (Laughter.) She’s like, no, I don’t want to, I’m not going. But she comes to this event every year, and that is a special statement from her. But it 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.
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 -- (laughter) -- which I still don’t get. Same rules that we had. When they work in my house, she’s like, why are you so mean? (Laughter.) But that’s what grandmas are for. That’s what she reminds me -- oh, yeah. (Laughter.)
But especially, she’s 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. (Laughter.) 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. So, Mom, I love you. And thank you. I’m going to stop now, because I’ve got to get through the rest of this.
But as I look around the room, I see all the women who are pouring so much love and support -- that same kind of love into their families. We have an extraordinary group here today. We’ve got moms who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve got military wives and partners who have moved across the country again and again. We have grandmothers who have helped to care for their grandkids while mom or dad or both are deployed. So we have some really phenomenal representation of what mothering can mean in the lives of so many families, in particular our military families.
Just to embarrass a couple of people, we’ve got Judith Chedville here. Where’s Judith? There Judith is, in the back. Oh, I met that little precious one in the back. (Laughter.) Well, Judith served our country in Iraq and Kuwait, and left the service in 2004 because, she said, she could no longer serve in good conscience under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” When my husband repealed the policy in 2011, Judith -- yes -- (applause) -- reenlisted. And today, she is a first lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard. She is here this morning with her spouse, Alicia Butler, and their beautiful one-year-old daughter, Jordan. You saw her. So we are proud of you both, proud of you all. And thank you for being here.
We also have Karen Ruedisueli -- where is Karen? There you are. We’re going to embarrass you, too. (Laughter.) Now, Karen’s husband Kurt is an army major who served for years in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Karen is here with her eight-year-old daughter Kate, and her seven-year-old son John. (Laughter.) They’re not shy. (Laughter.) But the thing that always strikes me about military kids is how much they sacrifice.
See, in their short lifetime, Kate and John have lived in 10 different houses. They have gone to three different elementary schools. And with all those moves, Karen was forced to put her 15-year career in marketing and development on hold. But she has been so determined to use her skills and her talents to give back, so over the past few years she’s been a volunteer for Blue Star families. She has led the Family Readiness Group when her husband’s unit deployed to Afghanistan. And today, she is working full-time with the National Military Family Association to advocate for other families like hers. So she has found a way to keep it going. (Applause.)
We’ve got women like Karen all in this room -- all of you. I could go on and tell story after story. But you all are perfect examples of why this event is so special and why we want to bring you all here today, because as military moms you’re doing so much not just for your families, but you’re doing so much for your communities and for our country. And most people don’t know it. They don’t know what you do. You’re the ones, even with husbands deployed and things going on, you’re still driving the carpool, volunteering, leading the neighborhood organizations and working with your congregations to do care packages for other people. You’re the ones who answer the phone call late at night when a neighbor needs your help. And no matter what your country asks of you and your family, you’re the ones who step up and serve. And you do it with grace, with dignity, and without complaint.
So today, we just wanted to give you a little something back for the years of service and sacrifice that you make. As a token of our gratitude, we’d like to bring you here today. And all of your kids have been busy in the State Dining Room making wonderful surprises for you, and they were all very diligent. And I don’t think anyone got dirty that I saw. (Laughter.) We made sure they were dirt-free activities. (Laughter.) We have a hand up. Do you have something you want to state, sweetie? Yes.
CHILD: I didn’t get to do any crafts with you. Could I do them --
MRS. OBAMA: You know what? There are -- sweetie, there are still crafts to do. And when we get through, we’re going to make sure you get to do all the crafts, okay? (Laughter.) All right? (Applause.) I’m going to assign -- who do we have -- Rory, I’m going to put you in charge of this. I saw you first. (Laughter.) What’s your name, sweetie?
MRS. OBAMA: What?
MRS. OBAMA: Denny?
MRS. OBAMA: Nettie. All right, Rory and Nettie, you guys are going to hook up after this and you’re going to do every single craft that we have. (Laughter.) Did anyone else miss out on crafts? Did you? Did you get to do your craft? You have been trying to shush him for the entire time. (Laughter.) Did you get a chance to do a craft or you just want to talk? (Laughter.)
See, this is how much your kids love you. (Laughter.) They don’t want to miss out on the crafts, and we will make sure that -- but, first, before we do that, Nettie, we’ve got a special guest.
We have someone here today who is a new mother herself. She came all the way here from New York, even though she just had a three-month old, and she’s here for the same reason we’re all here -- because she is proud of you, she is grateful for your service and sacrifice. She knows just a little bit about what it means to be a busy mom juggling a lot of things. She’s an extraordinarily talented singer, songwriter, a nine-time Grammy winner. And listening to her music is the perfect way to kick back, relax, and enjoy yourselves for a little while.
So we are so grateful that she is here. She is here with her mom and her family as well. Please join me in welcoming the one and only Norah Jones. (Applause.)
(Norah Jones performs.)
MRS. OBAMA: Well, I hope you all have had a good time here at the White House. You had some treats; you hung out for a little bit. But Jill and I are going to meet you in the Blue Room so that we can say hello to everyone. Enjoy the rest of your day. Make sure to take time out for yourselves. That’s the one thing I’ve learned from my mom, is to treat yourself well. Do that every single day.
We love you. We respect you. We admire you. And we will see you again, so be good. (Laughter.) And to all the kids here, eat your vegetables! (Laughter.)
Oh, we have another hand. Yes?
CHILD: What about chicken?
MRS. OBAMA: Chicken? Chicken is good. (Laughter.) Okay, eat your vegetables and some chicken. (Laughter.) All right, you guys, thanks so much for coming. We will see you in there soon. (Applause.)
11:36 A.M. EDT