When Donald Trump is officially made president of the United States at his inauguration on January 20 in D.C., we’ll bid a fond farewell to former President Barack Obama, his doting wife and passionate First Lady, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia and Sasha— two young, respectable women who grew up before our nation’s very eyes.
Noting the massive transition these First Children are about to embark on, two women who know the transition all too well penned an inspiring letter to the girls on Time magazine’s website. These women, of course, are former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, who themselves navigated the difficult transition to the real world and emerged on the other side as respected career women. Today, Barbara is the CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps; Jenna is a news correspondent for Today.
“Malia and Sasha, eight years ago on a cold November day, we greeted you on the steps of the White House,” the letter begins. “We saw both the light and wariness in your eyes as you gazed at your new home.”
Their letter continues, “When you slid down the banister of the solarium, just as we had done as eight-year-olds and again as 20-year-olds chasing our youth, your joy and laughter were contagious.”
Noting their mutual absence during their father’s first term pursuing their education (Jenna was at the University of Texas and Barbara was at Yale), the Bush twins encourage the teenagers to “enjoy college” adding, “as most of the world knows, we did.”
The twins implore Malia and Sasha to also hold sacred the years-long bonds they’ve built with White House staff. “We stay in touch with our Secret Service,” the letter reads. “They were part of growing up for us: there for first dates, first days and even an engagement and a honeymoon…We know it wasn’t always easy—the two of you and the two of us were teenagers trailed by men in backpacks—but they put their lives on hold for us.”
But perhaps the most compelling takeaway came in the letter’s final words, wherein the sisters’ describe the difficulties that come with being First Children, a position neither asked for.
“You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House. You have listened to harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them. You stood by as your precious parents were reduced to headlines. Your parents, who put you first and who not only showed you but gave you the world. As always, they will be rooting for you as you begin your next chapter. And so will we.”