First lady Melania Trump at a White House reception for military mothers in honor of Mother’s Day. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

As a new mother, Melania Trump marveled over her son, Barron.

“The love. It’s unconditional love,” she told the Palm Beach Daily News in an interview published on her first Mother’s Day.

For much of her husband’s chaotic presidency so far, Mrs. Trump has stayed out of Washington. Similarly, during Donald Trump’s campaign, she remained in the background and did not display deep passion for any particular policy issue.

But in the 2006 interview about her baby, she seems in awe.

“It’s a miracle almost, I could say, that two people can create,” she said. “It’s very, very special.”

Her first Mother’s Day as first lady is an important marker, perhaps more for Melania Trump than her predecessors. The reason she has given for not fully engaging with the duties of her office is her commitment to care for Barron.

She has remained in New York so that he could complete the school year and has only sporadically held public events as first lady. Her first solo engagement during her husband’s presidency was a visit to a hospital in Manhattan where she read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” to a handful of sick children. It was a motherly thing to do.

One of the handful of events she has hosted in the White House was a reception Friday for mothers of military veterans in the East Room. It began with President Trump promising his “complete and total support” to the military and mentioning his proposed increases in defense spending.

Then he praised his own mother, who he said was looking down on him, before introducing his wife. Mrs. Trump spoke for a few minutes from prepared remarks about the experience of being a mother.

“As everyone in this room knows, mother is a title that claims your heart and changes your life forever,” she said. “In fact, it has been said that having a child means allowing your heart to walk around outside of your body. For the mothers of someone who has or is serving our country, this must be especially true.”


The first lady and military mothers listen to the United States Army Chorus perform at the reception. (Susan Walsh/AP)

About 200 military mothers attended the brunch, where they enjoyed salad, sandwiches and sweets followed by performances by the Army chorus and the Marine band.

Mrs. Trump is learning more about veteran’s issues. On a Thursday in April, she attended a White House event honoring wounded members of the military; she also accompanied her husband on a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

She may take up advocacy on behalf of veterans as she increases her activities, which her staff says will happen once she has moved to Washington. Tradition dictates that the first lady, as wife of the commander in chief, supports military families, and it is an issue that nearly every first lady has engaged with in some fashion.

Still, mothering seems to be what compels Mrs. Trump, and even the demands of Washington and her husband’s ascension to the highest office in the nation have not deterred her from that first priority.

“My husband is traveling all the time. Barron needs somebody as a parent, so I am with him all the time,” she told People magazine last year, adding that she helps her son with his homework and takes him to extracurricular activities.

Donald Trump is hiring and firing with dramatic flair, and his administration is hurtling along swiftly, but Mrs. Trump’s home life seems largely unchanged from that description.

“She’s a fierce wife and mother, a protective mother,” said a longtime acquaintance.

As she prepares to move to Washington — which the president has said will happen in four weeks — will her focus broaden?

Former first lady Michelle Obama also came to Washington reluctantly and worried about her daughters, who were slightly younger than 11-year-old Barron Trump. She instructed her staff to give her daughters’ activities priority on her calendar and returned to the White House residence by 3 p.m. most days to greet them when they came home from school.

Still, within a year of her husband’s taking office, she rolled out a campaign against childhood obesity as her first advocacy issue.

Mrs. Trump still has time to more fully develop a platform as first lady, but what she does soon after she moves to Washington will indicate whether she plans to be mom-in-chief or mother solely to her son.