WATCH: Single Mom and Obama Adviser, Valerie Jarrett says, ‘You Can Have It All, But Not All at Once’

Jarrett with her daughter, Laura. (Photo: Courtesy of Valerie Jarrett)
Jarrett with her daughter, Laura. (Photo: Courtesy of Valerie Jarrett)

A White House that has a work-from-home policy. A president who leaves the office every night at 6:30 p.m to be home in time for dinner. Focusing on family is not a priority just for President Barack Obama, but also for his senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett is known as a longtime mentor to both the president and first lady, but now she’s opening up about another side of her life: raising her daughter, Laura, as a single mom. 

“You can have it all, but not all at once,” Jarrett says during a sit-down interview with Yahoo Parenting at the White House this week. It’s something she learned the hard way, and spoke out about during a commencement address a couple years back.

“By 30, I was separated from my husband, and I clearly remember sitting in my lovely office with a magnificent view, staring at a very lucrative pay stub, and bursting into tears because I was just miserable,” she said then. “So I had to make a decision: Keep following my plan, or be honest with myself and search for my true passion.” That led to her leaving the private law firm where she worked and starting over in public service — which is how she soon met a young Michelle Robinson and her fiance, Barack Obama — and working her way up from different positions in the Chicago mayor’s office. She served as the commissioner of the department of planning and development and chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, and later became CEO of a real estate development company, where she worked until she joined the Obamas in Washington, D.C., in 2008.

“Life is full of tradeoffs. And I think at different phases in your life, you’re able to do certain things that you can’t do at other phases, and you make choices,” Jarrett says today. “For example, I had my daughter when I was pretty young, 28, and I had to sacrifice not going out with my friends, and I had to figure out how to juggle both raising her and also a very demanding job. And part of the reason why I decided I couldn’t continue to work in a law firm is that I just didn’t feel like I was thriving in that environment and able to spend enough time with her. And I had done one of those gut checks where I said, is this really the kind of person I want to be? Or do I want to have a job where I have more flexibility?”

Jarrett, who calls her daughter “the most important thing to me,” knew she couldn’t work 20 hours a day during the first years of her daughter’s life. But now that Laura has grown up, “I can work 20 hours a day and I have the kind of job that demands that I do that, although I have to say, the president also believes in working families and gives us a lot of flexibility here at the White House — if you want to work from home, we can do that. A lot of people who work here have young children and he and the first lady both support that, but this is a demanding job and I can give it more hours because of the phase of life I’m in.”

President Obama, who is father to Malia, 17, and Sasha, 14, sets the tone by leaving each night at 6:30 p.m. to be home in time for family dinner. “If we’re in a meeting at 6:25, everybody starts to get edgy because we know he’s leaving at 6:30,” Jarrett says. The president didn’t grow up with a dad who was a positive role model, so he instead looked to Michelle’s father, whom he “learned a lot from,” Jarrett says. The president “made up his mind that he was going to be the kind of father that was very involved in his daughters’ lives.”

Click here to read more

Source: Yahoo Parenting | Lindsay Powers