"She's so the best thing that ever happened to me. Can you believe I had to wait 52 years for the best thing that ever happened to me?"
We caught up with our own Hoda Kotb, also known as "Hoda Mama," live on Facebook this morning to ask her everything we (and you!) have been wondering about her transition to being a mom after adopting sweet little Haley Joy, who was appropriately born on Valentine's Day this year.
Here's what Hoda had to say about the best thing that's ever happened to her:
What's the most surprising thing to her about being a mom?
"I learned that joy trumps fatigue," Hoda said. "You can be so exhausted that you're falling down the stairs and you almost don’t have any of your brain function, but somehow, you’re happy. Joy trumps everything, no matter how wiped out you are."
Hoda also realized something important about Motown now that she has a baby of her own. "Every single Motown song is about a baby!" she said. "I challenge you to listen to every Motown song... except for 'Smooth Operator' and 'Sexual Healing.' All the rest of them are about babies!"
How is Hoda's beloved dog, Blake, reacting to Haley Joy?
"Blake is amazing," said Hoda. "He's very protective of her." Hoda told a story about a time when she hopped in the shower and forgot to turn on the baby monitor, and Blake came to the her and put his paws on the shower door, summoning her to follow him. When she did, he raced to Haley Joy's room and put his paws up on her crib, where the baby had woken up crying. "Lassie! Lassie told me!" Hoda said. "Blake's the best."
How does she feel about being a working mom?
Though she said she misses Haley Joy "terribly" when she is not with her, Hoda said she does not feel the guilt she feared she might when she goes to work. "I come from a working mom, and my mom went to work and said, 'I love you, I’m going to be back, and I’m going to love what I do, and I’m going to come back and love you some more.'"
Hoda also has a message for moms who stay at home. She said of her two months home with Haley that "I have never, ever in my life worked that hard," including past assignments covering hurricanes, Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein's statue, and tsunamis. Hoda believes every mom home with children is a "work-at-home mom." "I did it for two months and I thought, how strong women are to do this," she said.
What does she do when everything goes wrong?
Hoda said that one goal she has had is to try to "be here now," she said, and stay in the present moment instead of worrying about everything, "even on my worst possible days."
"I had a horrible day," she said, and then she described a chaotic moment familiar to almost any mom at one time or another:
"I was walking down the stairs of my apartment, and I was holding Haley Joy, and a picture fell and it shattered, and it was five in the morning and I’m in bare feet, and I was trying to let Blake out on the back balcony, and I realize he’s already pooped inside and I’m holding her and she’s wailing, and I’m looking at everything and thinking, 'What do I do?'" she said.
In the midst of vacuuming shattered glass with a dog barking and a baby wailing, when Hoda was able to stop crying herself and catch her breath, she was able to take a moment and pull everything back into perspective. “In this moment, I sat down on the couch and I looked up to God and I said, 'I want to say thank you,'" she said. "I would take this a thousand times over than have a perfect day without Haley.
"A tough day with Haley is so much better than a perfect day without her. I’m trying to remind myself that all the time."
What does she want people to know about adoption?
Hoda is certain of something else she wants other women who are considering adoption to know: "I personally think of all the decisions I’ve ever made in my life, this was by far the best one I’ve ever made," she said, noting that even though she is 52 years old, Haley Joy came into her life "right on time."
"I’m a big believer that if you really, really in your soul believe that you want a child, your child is out there, sleeping under the same moon and stars as you are right now," she said. "It’s a great thing to adopt."
And to mothers who decide to place their children for adoption, Hoda has another message: "That’s the biggest act of love," she said, "Such a brave and beautiful act of love to know that your child could have a different kind of life."