The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us including former First Lady Michelle Obama. Despite launching her own podcast and promoting her upcoming show, Waffles + Mochi, Obama has been forced to adapt to a new world like the rest of us. During a recent interview, the bestselling author opened up about how her life has shifted during the pandemic.
"These have been challenging times. Many people have struggled: jobs lost, people going hungry," she told PEOPLE via Zoom.
"We've learned to count our blessings, the importance of health and family."
One of the most notable changes in her life during the pandemic has been the return of her daughters. At the top of last year, Obama and her husband, Barack, were enjoying having the house to themselves and seeing their daughters create their own lives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed both Sasha and Malia back into the house.
"Our girls were supposed to have emptied out of my nest," she explained.
"I was sort of celebrating that they were out building their lives and allowing me the emotional space to let them go. Well, they're back!"
While she was happy to work on new projects, see the success of her husband's book and spend time with her daughters, the traumatic events of last year took their toll on the former First Lady. From the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery to the COVID-19 pandemic, Obama felt the weight of last year in a way that resulted in a "low-grade depression."
"That was during a time when a lot of hard stuff was going on," she said.
"We had the continued killing of Black men at the hands of police. Just seeing the video of George Floyd, experiencing that eight minutes. That's a lot to take on, not to mention being in the middle of a quarantine. Depression is understandable during these times. I needed to acknowledge what I was going through, because a lot of times we feel like we have to cover that part of ourselves up, that we always have to rise above and look as if we're not paddling hard underneath the water."
Despite what has set her back in the past, she is hopeful for the future. She has launched her own podcast, hosted her own Netflix show and released a documentary. As she prepares for the release of Waffles + Mochi, she says that she may be looking to retire in the near future.
"I've been telling my daughters I'm moving toward retirement right now, [selectively] picking projects and chasing summer," she told PEOPLE.
"Barack and I never want to experience winter again. We're building the foundation for somebody else to continue the work so we can retire and be with each other — and Barack can golf too much, and I can tease him about golfing too much because he's got nothing else to do."
Photo Credit: Getty Images