Serving as guest co-host of TODAY's fourth hour Wednesday, Carson was asked by Hoda Kotb when he believes his parents were proudest of him.
“My parents were overly proud,” he said. “I sometimes try to love my kids, I think, less, almost on purpose, because I’m so scared of loving them too much.
Because my parents, my mom especially, loved me so much, it was almost too much. And I know that now because when she died the hurt was a transference of the love, right? It hurt so much because I’m so bummed that that love isn’t there anymore, and that’s a byproduct of her love for me. And that’s the greatest gift you can give your kids.”
Carson, who shares three children with wife Siri, unexpectedly lost his mother, Pattie, to a heart attack in 2017. His stepfather, Richard, died five weeks later from bone cancer. His father, Jim, died in 1979.
Continuing his conversation Wednesday with Hoda, Carson added that that kind of unconditional parental love can be "scary."
“It’s a scary proposition, too. I find myself falling in love with my kids so much, and I almost want to put a little bit of a guard there out of fear.”
In the spirit of reminiscing about his parents, Carson took a minute to recall how his mother recorded silly outgoing messages on their answering machine for different seasons and holidays.
"My mom would've hit record this morning," he said Wednesday, the first day of spring. "She would've said, 'Spring is sprung and the grass is riz, I bet you’re wondering where we is. Leave us a message.' That would be her spring one.”
He said his mom had messages for fall and Halloween, too. “So today I’m definitely thinking about my mom,” he said.
“I had the good fortune of meeting her here at Studio 1A, and she lit the place up," Hoda told Carson. "She walked in, and everything was bright.”