WASHINGTON — One day after the presidential election, the Obama family of Chicago's Hyde Park is only beginning to figure out how to become the first family of the United States.
As the first black president and his family, they will be a living tableau of racial progress, and friends say they are acutely aware that everything they say and do — the way they dress, where Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, go to school, even what kind of puppy they adopt — will brim with symbolic value.
"Here's an intact black family, a happy family, with beautiful kids and a loving, extended family and they happen to live in the executive mansion," said Verna Williams, Michelle Obama's old law school buddy.
Throughout the campaign, Malia and Sasha, who will become the youngest White House occupants in decades, spent many hours in their grandmother's tiny South Side apartment, in the same building where their mother was raised.
On Wednesday, Michelle Obama spoke with the first lady, Laura Bush, who invited her and her daughters to visit the White House soon. The hunt for a new school begins now, Michelle Obama told friends.
As first lady, Michelle Obama has said, she plans to make herself an advocate for working parents, particularly military families. As a first lady trying to juggle public duties with two young children, she will exemplify the very issue she describes.
But in one respect, the Obamas' family life will now become much easier. Since 1996, when he was elected to the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama has spent long periods away from home. The last six years have been a punishing set of marathons, as he ran for a U.S. Senate seat, then spent weekdays in Washington, then traveled on the presidential campaign trail for nearly two years.