The Labour Party’s new First Lady, Michelle Muscat, is set to play a role in her husband Joseph’s political activity, but her first priority remains her family and maintaining a welcoming home.
Indeed, for the 34-year-old from Rabat, life revolves around their eight-month old twins Etoile Ella and Soleil Sophie, her dream come true.
“They were long-awaited,” she said with a soft voice and a tender look in her eyes.
She explained how, after suffering a miscarriage she had a “terrible” pregnancy while carrying her twins.
“I had nine months of total bed rest which, for my lifestyle, was a change that influenced my entire outlook on life.”
She spent the last trimester of her pregnancy at Karin Grech Hospital. “The hospital stay was a life-changing experience in itself,” Michelle said, adding that while there she met people from all social strata and could observe the different backgrounds.
“There’d be those whose family would bring cooked food with them. Then there was this woman who had to feed five or six children and was so used to simple life that she could not get herself to eat the chicken or any other decent meal served in hospital. Instead, she would head for the pantry and eat bread and butter, because that’s what she’s used to.”
Having had previous experience in the political scene – she was Alfred Sant’s personal assistant and before that worked in a Labour minister’s secretariat – Michelle had heard about families in difficult situations, “but when you actually live with these people, you gain a totally different perspective on these issues”.
Her experience in hospital has in some way shaped a facet of the role she wants to take on as the wife of the leader of the Malta Labour Party. She explained how, for one to be a political person, one had to be human, and emphasised that politics should be about caring for other people.
“For me it means making each day a better day for everyone.”
Joseph follows the same ideal, she quickly added. “He believes that we have to work hard so that we can get the best out of our country. We are here to make a difference. I believe Joseph can do it, and I’m going to be there to back him”.
Michelle said that the experience she gained while working for Dr Sant would help her better support her husband.
“Working with such an intellectual person was an experience where I learnt to appreciate how decisions are taken, and to be loyal to them whether I agree with them or not.” She added that she was proud to have worked with Dr Sant since he is “a sincere, honest and hard working person”.
Admitting that Joseph’s win meant that she had to re-schedule her time at home, Michelle is adamant that her top priority will always be her family, and the plus side to Joseph’s appointment is that he is now more in Malta than in Brussels.
Although she now has more on her plate, her children and her husband won’t be the ones to suffer. “I wasn’t planning this. I was planning to be a full-time mother at least for the next three years until they start attending school,” she adds.
Michelle plans out her days and feels lucky that the twins tend to sleep early, allowing her and her husband to attend social evenings knowing that the children are fast asleep. On the other hand, Etoile and Soleil tend to wake up early. However, Joseph takes care of their first feed and the first diapers-change. He then spends an hour playing with them before he leaves for work.
What has gone out of the window are her hobbies. Michelle and her friend from New York design jewellery made of semi-precious stones.
“My friend designs prêt-a-porter whereas I do individual designs such as bridal jewellery”. Other hobbies include swimming – which she is determined the twins will learn early – and interior design. She has designed the interior of her house in Burmarrad, and also some of her friends’ houses.
Michelle and Joseph met in 1995 – March 19 – at a Labour Youth Forum activity. She was there because she needed to interview someone for a university assignment. She recounts how she had met Joseph previously, tried talking to him, but he had cut the conversation short. “He was under the impression that I was going out with someone else so he felt that it was (in his own words) ‘no use wasting time on you,’” she laughed. But on the day of the activity, it was another story. “We spent three hours chatting,” and matters took off.
The couple took a short break from their relationship since Michelle was going to sit for her university final exams and “didn’t want anything to deviate me from my studies... something which Joseph took very badly”. They then got back together after two months and crowned their love in 2001.
She describes Joseph as being a very romantic person. “He’s very good at remembering dates, and he does manage to find time to buy gifts”. When they do not go out on Saturday nights and Sundays, he does the cooking but during the week all he prepares is their coffee in the morning which they take while discussing their day’s agenda.
She stands up, excuses herself and heads towards the kitchen. She’s preparing stuffed aubergines for dinner and needs to make sure they’re ready in time.
“I love cooking – it’s one of the hobbies which I won’t be giving up. It also feels good to know that we’re eating healthily and our home is still well looked after.”
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