Like most parents, they both struggle with mom guilt and the impossibility of a work-life balance. But, they are also grateful for the perspective and wisdom that comes with being older moms who faced the hard reality that having children might not be so easy.
Kotb, 57, who is mom to daughters Hayley, 5, and Hope, 3, wasn’t sure parenthood was in the cards for her following treatment for breast cancer in 2007. She recalls that moment of realization in an interview with Good Housekeeping: “My oncologist called and we were talking about freezing my eggs. She basically said that given my age and [cancer treatment], it was pretty close to a dead end.”
“I was in my room and I just sobbed,” Kotb continued. “I thought, Well, that’s that, isn’t it?”
Yet Kotb found the strength to carry on, and another path to parenthood. She credits her former fiancé Joel Schiffman for giving her the support she needed at the time of her first adoption.
“I don’t think I would’ve adopted if it hadn’t been for Joel. Having a stable relationship in that moment was really important. Once that fell into place, it didn’t seem as scary to me,” Kotb told Good Housekeeping.
Kotb also spoke of the inspiration she drew from other adoptive parents, including Sandra Bullock. Kotb said she leaned on the actress en route to meeting her older daughter for the first time: “When I had made the decision to adopt and was on the plane to pick up my daughter, I called her again. She said, ‘It’s about to begin!’ Sometimes all you need is a model before [you realize], I can handle it.”
Guthrie, 50, who is mom to Vale, 7, and Charley, 5, with husband Michael Feldman, faced miscarriage and multiple rounds of IVF before accepting the possibility of a future without kids.
“I just tried to tell myself that it would be OK if it didn’t happen: Maybe it’s not meant for me, and that’s OK because I’ve already been blessed so much in my life. I’m not entitled to have a baby too. Looking back, that mindset was probably a self-defense mechanism,” Guthrie told Good Housekeeping.
Both moms now say the wisdom that comes with age and experience makes their mothering less fraught and more joyful.
“I’m glad my kids don’t have the stressed, anxious and insecure 30-year-old version of me. The peace and calmness that comes with age is a great thing for kids to see in action,” said Guthrie.
“I find myself being so much more patient and calm than I ever would have been at a younger age. You realize we sometimes blow things out of proportion,” said Kotb.
Sometimes it’s others who blow something out of proportion, and being able to recognize this is also a gift that comes with age. Reflecting on a letter she received that criticized her decision to have children later in life, Kotb said, “I’ve come to learn that there are two ways to live your life. You can live your life worrying about what people think of your life, or you can live your life.”