In a CBS News interview, Obama said offering consolation on behalf of the nation to the families of children mowed down by gun violence has been more powerful than almost anything else she has had to do.
"In those moments, I try to speak from my heart, and I try to do a lot more listening that I do talking. But yeah, it's tough, but knowing that a hug, an ear, a ray of hope -- we know how important that is. So that helps you find the words somehow," Obama said.
"What I realized was that Hadiya's family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her," Obama had said in an April 10 speech memorializing Hadiya Pendleton, 15, of Chicago, who was shot to death a week after she had performed with her school band at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.
CBS News said the first lady has focused on the nation's youth since her husband took office, starting with the less-controversial "Let's Move" program to fight childhood obesity, hopefully within a generation. The White House kitchen garden, started four years ago, has allowed children across the country to come plant in the dirt.
Obama said children used to be expected to eat their vegetables. "Now somehow that's shifted, where all of a sudden we think that kids should have a complete say over what they eat. And kids don't know. My kids know, you've got to eat your vegetables, so our household is no different. Our kids are not somehow veggie lovers. ... It's still a struggle."
A woman whose haircut made front page news, Obama said she has learned "to appreciate the value of anonymity."
"And the president and I, we will grow to appreciate that greatly in four years, when the everyday sort of things we do don't make front page news," she said.
"But we also know the privilege of the platform that we have. I don't take this platform lightly; I try to cherish it and make the most of it every single day."