As she launches a new children’s book in honor of her 1-year-old daughter, Haley, Today co-host Hoda Kotb is opening up about why the arrival of her first child at the age of 52 was “right on time.”
ET’s Keltie Knight sat down with the television personality at Studio 1A in New York, where she got candid about being an older mom, juggling work with parenting and how the little girl “snapped my world in focus.”
“I was talking to a friend and she said, ‘Can you believe I'm 52 and have a baby?’ and was freaking, and she said, ‘That baby is right on time. You give inspiration to women because our generation of women [are] very torn between having our careers and being moms and here you are [showing] you actually can have it all,’” Kotb, 53, shares.
“I thought I had missed my window and a lot of women might feel this way,” she adds. “You get busy with work, then you’re in a marriage that maybe doesn't work, then I had an illness, then I looked at my life and said, ‘What happened? I missed it.’”
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Confessing that for a while she pushed down her feelings of longing to be a mom, Kotb eventually pursued her parenting dreams, adopting Haley with her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman. She says becoming a mom “snapped my world into focus” and inspired her new book, I’ve Loved You Since Forever.
Naturally, Haley got a preview of the book, with Kotb revealing that her little cutie eyed up every page before stopping on the elephant page … and chewing on it!
“This book to me is about destiny -- it's about loving something you can't see yet [or] can't hold, but knowing you feel as strongly as if it was in your hands,” says Kotb, who previously overcame breast cancer. “And then when you finally get to hold her, you get it, like the lights turn on in the house.”
“I feel like my life began when they put her in my arms -- like that was day one,” she continues to gush. “And I will take that -- life starting at 52 -- a million times over, compared to a perfect day before her.”
Kotb’s newfound joy has been heightened by Schiffman, a financer whom she describes as a wonderful father and partner.
“I met the right man at the right time in my life and Joel is the perfect fit for me,” she says. “The fact that I found the man I’ve dreamt of and the life I’ve dreamt of at this stage in my life should let other women know sometimes if you wait, it comes later.”
“The new job did come at an interesting time,” she admits. “I couldn't have scripted it this way, but what's weird about life is all of a sudden the puzzle pieces snap. Had I not had Haley, the weight of doing this new show [and] the pressure would have been so intense, but because I have her, she’s the great equalizer in life. I walk in the door, she erases everything, she cures the pain, she does everything just by laughing and talking and being.”
As for whether she plans to expand her family further, Kotb doesn’t rule out adopting again: “Never say never!”