There’s been much coverage surrounding the Obama family’s final days in the White House, and more will surely come over the next week.
There’s been retrospectives of what President Barack Obama has done — or not done, depending on what side of the aisle you’re on — farewell addresses, final appearances and the like by Obama and First Lady Michelle.
But one heartfelt missive wasn’t directed at the outgoing first couple. It was addressed to their daughters, Malia, 18, and Sasha, 15, and was written by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush, the 35-year-old twin daughters of President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
“Malia and Sasha, eight years ago on a cold November day, we greeted you on the steps of the White House. We saw both the light and wariness in your eyes as you gazed at your new home,” the Bushes wrote in their open letter in Time on Thursday.
They recalled showing the Obama sisters around the “majestic halls of the house you had no choice but to move in to” and introducing them to staff who “dedicate themselves to making this historic house a home.”
The letter also highlighted some of the many experiences the Obama sisters had as first daughters, from visiting Nelson Mandela’s prison cell in South Africa and talking about education in Liberia and Morocco with their mother to laughing at their father’s infamous “dad jokes.”
“We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease,” the Bushes wrote. "You won’t have the weight of the world on your young shoulders anymore. Explore your passions. Learn who you are. Make mistakes — you are allowed to. Continue to surround yourself with loyal friends who know you, adore you and will fiercely protect you. Those who judge you don’t love you, and their voices shouldn’t hold weight. Rather, it’s your own hearts that matter."
In addition to telling the Obamas to remember the White House staff, the Bush sisters encouraged them to enjoy college. “As most of the world knows, we did,” they wrote, poking fun at stories of their wild ways from their father’s time in office.
“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,” the Bushes concluded.
After taking a gap year, Malia Obama will attend her parents' alma mater, Harvard University, in the fall, while her parents will stay in Washington, D.C., for the next two years so her sister can finish high school.
Bush Hager is currently a correspondent on “Today.” Her sister is co-founder and CEO of Global Health Corps.