March 18 (UPI) -- Michelle Obama says she's in "awe" of her daughters' resilience and curiosity about the world.
Malia and Sasha, now 20 and 17 years old, were just 10 and 7 when Barack first took office in January 2009. The pair grew up in the spotlight surrounded by Secret Service, although Michelle and Barack tried to keep life as normal as possible.
"We had to parent by creating this cocoon of normalcy in a pretty crazy, abnormal world," Michelle told host Conan O'Brien. "We spent eight years just going, 'It's okay. You'll be fine. This is normal. Just go to school.'"
"It was very much keeping them in their reality, making sure we went to parent-teacher conferences and we went to their games and we were sitting on the sidelines with them and that they had sleepovers," she said.
Michelle voiced her admiration for Malia, now a sophomore at Harvard University, and Sasha, a senior in high school.
"I am in awe for my children for the way they have managed this whole thing with poise and grace. There's a resilience that they've had to develop," the former first lady told O'Brien.
"We've given them so much more than any of us have ever had -- they have met the pope and the queen and they've done things no kid would ever do -- but they've also had to sacrifice a lot of their childhoods," she said.
"They've had to learn how to steel themselves and then come out not being resentful, not being cynical, and still being curious about the world," she added. "My hat's off to them."
Michelle previously praised Malia and Sasha in an interview with Today in October.
"They're doing well," Michelle said. "I'm so proud of them."
"It's tough growing up in the public eye and they spent the majority of their life in the international spotlight with all the criticisms and the judgment," she added. "They are down to earth; they are humble. They are normal and it has been a huge relief."