“Today” show co-anchor Hoda Kotb comes to the Book Revue in Huntington Thursday, March 8, to talk about her new children’s book, “I’ve Loved You Since Forever” (HarperCollins) and being a new mom at age 53.
Newsday spoke with Kotb about a mommy-meltdown moment, the encounter with a stranger she’ll never forget, and something unexpected that Haley Joy, who just turned 1, did while Kotb was in South Korea covering the Olympics.
Q. How was your book inspired by Haley Joy?
A. The title, I think, is really the whole inspiration. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought in your life, ‘I have a nice family, a great boyfriend and a fun job. Those are the blessings I get and that’s plenty.’ The hope and wish for something more — like motherhood, especially late in life — almost seemed like I wasn’t sure if I deserved that. Not everybody gets everything. In my journal I would scribble things about wishing or wanting, praying and hoping for a child. And the ‘I’ve loved you since forever’ is really her, I loved her before she existed.
Q. I hear Haley, in true infant style, chewed on “I’ve Loved You Since Forever” when you read it to her.
A. She’s chewed ‘Goodnight Moon,’ it’s like shredded. If she’s even chewing on this one a little bit it makes me feel good.
Q. You’ve said that your worst day with Haley is better than your best day before you adopted her. Why?
A. I remember what seemed like a bad day when I’d gotten Haley and I was by myself. She was up crying and I forgot to let the dog out. I picked her up and I was trying to figure out how I was going to let Blake out. And as I was trying to open a sliding door to the terrace, a glass picture broke and Blake had already pooped on the floor. You know when you think you’re going to have a breakdown? I sat down on the couch. I just took a breath and I remember saying to God, ‘I would have begged for this day. The worst possible day I would have begged for. So I’m going to say thank you in this moment.’ I think I could lose everything, everything, and have Haley and everything would be fine.
Q. Why did you wait until 52 to add a child to your world?
A. First it was sort of career stuff. Then I got sick, I got breast cancer, and then I got divorced and you start to think well, this isn’t happening. I missed my window, I missed my time. Then one day I started to wonder, I couldn’t push the feelings away. I thought, ‘Why not me?’
I had just adopted Haley. I was walking down the street, not with her, but I was going to get some stuff for her at Duane Reade, some formula. This woman stopped me and said something nice, and she said, ‘Oh, do you have children?’ I spent my whole life saying, ‘Oh no.’ But I looked at this stranger and I said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘I have a daughter.’ I couldn’t believe I was saying those words out loud. I was sobbing. It was a moment with a stranger that you don’t forget.
Q. Has she said mommy yet?
A. She did! She said it when I was gone at the Olympics. I’m sitting there in Korea and we’re on a different time zone and my mom sends this video. I watch my mom going, ‘You can do it. Ma-ma.’ And she’s like, “Wha-wha.” And my mom keeps repeating it. And all of a sudden Haley smiles at her. And she goes, ‘Mama.’ It was beautiful. What’s better than your own mother teaching your child to say mama?
Hoda Kotb signs “I’ve Loved You Since Forever”
WHEN|WHERE 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com
COST Free ($18.99 book)