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Jenna Bush Hager opens up about the 'steady force' in her family — her mother

The TODAY with Hoda & Jenna co-host says her mom, former first lady Laura Bush, keeps calm in the family, even when times are turbulent.
/ Source: TODAY

Mother’s Day is still weeks away, but it’s never too soon to take a tally of all the things that make mom special.

Jenna Bush Hager did just that in the pages of Southern Living, sharing with the world how grateful she is to her own mother, former first lady Laura Bush, for being such a steady source of maternal strength in her family — and for helping her be a better mother to her own children, too.

Jenna Bush Hager pays tribute to mom Laura Bush in Southern Living
Jenna Bush Hager, pictured with her mom, former first lady Laura Bush, and her daughters, Mila and Poppy.Amy Dickerson / Southern Living

“My mother led by example,” the TODAY with Hoda & Jenna co-host explained. “She has a grace about her. She’s unflappable, so even in the midst of trying times, she’s been the rock, the steady force that has kept our family calm in moments that were unspeakably turbulent.”

Jenna, who serves as an editor at large for the magazine, noted that that’s what allowed a sense of ease and comfort in the home as she and her twin sister, Barbara Bush, grew up.

“Nobody was ever tense,” she said. “Nobody was walking on eggshells.”

Which is an impressive thing to be able to say, having spent a portion of her youth growing up in the White House.

“What she always conveyed is that we have the power to create the kind of home we want our kids to remember,” Jenna said, adding that one part that she remembers about her own childhood was being allowed to be an individual, her own person — sometimes a tricky thing for a twin or any sibling with another close to their age.

“My mother never once compared my sister, Barbara, and me,” she recalled. “And I try hard not to compare my girls.”

Jenna and husband Henry Hager have three children — daughters Mila, 7, and Poppy, 4, and 8-month-old son Hal — and it’s the example set by her mother that helps guide them as they raise their little ones.

“If they are sad, scared, or confused, we let them feel those feelings and encourage them to talk about them with us,” Jenna explained. “We tell them that being who they are is great and makes their dad and me so proud and happy.”

And that, no doubt, makes her mom proud, too.