What Will Michelle Obama Be Like as First Lady?

Michelle Obama said she plans to focus on her children first and foremost.

Jan. 21, 2009— -- She's been a lawyer, a compelling campaigner for her husband and the nation's latest fashion icon, but some wonder how Michelle Obama will interpret her new role as first lady.

There's been no hard talk of projects or unofficial advising to the newly inaugurated president. What Obama has said is that her focus will be on being mom in chief to daughters Malia and Sasha, ages 10 and 7, respectively.

It's a job, she told Barbara Walters, that would be all-encompassing.

"I don't view myself as being in a position where I'm twiddling my thumbs and wondering, 'how am I gonna get through the day?'" she said last year.

Obama's team said the Southside Chicago native likely will take up issues after her children are fully settled. The first lady is especially concerned about issues revolving around motherhood and military wives' struggles, as well as work-life balance for working women.

"It's always guilt-filled. No matter what decision you make at any point in time, you always feel like you should be doing more on the other end. And that's something that we talk about a lot, the constant guilt that surrounds working women and mothers," Obama said in another interview with ABC News last year.

The first mom may find support from the thousands of mothers around the nation who also are trying to balance a career with family.

"It's like she's a kind of post-feminist woman where she says, 'I have had a high-power job and I will have a high-power job again. I'm not taking a back seat. I'm just taking a pause,'" Dailybest.com founder and editor Tina Brown said.

Taking a Cue From the Past

Obama may take a cue from previous first ladies, some of whom were criticized for coming on too hard, too fast.

Capricia Marshall, a Hillary Clinton confidante, said she remembered the barrage of scrutiny the former first lady and future secretary of state faced.

"What is she wearing? Where is she going? What parties will she be attending? Who is actually visiting?" Marshall recalled.

And, of course, people wanted to know what issues Clinton was getting involved in and why she opted for those, Marshall added.

Serving as an Example

Obama's new high-profile role is a breakthrough for African Americans, particularly women.

"We have so many negative portrayals of families ... especially black families," said Jolene Ivey, who founded Mocha Moms, a support group for black women who stay home with their children. "Here is one that is going to knock all that away."

She said the Obamas serve as a good role model for black families, whose struggles have been well documented.

"It's going to be clear that there is a way to be a black family in the U.S.-of-A. and be a very positive force in the community," Ivey said.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events