Gayle King always wanted to be a mother.
“I can remember in seventh grade writing down very specifically about being a mother,” says the CBS Mornings host. “I wanted to be a mom for a very long time.”
King first welcomed a girl named Kirby, at 31 years old. King recalls not being surprised by the sheer amount of work being a parent really is.
“Your whole world revolves around this little creature that comes into your lives,” Gayle notes. “You think, ‘Oh, well, while the baby’s sleeping, I’ll work out or I’ll clean the house or blah.’ None of that happened. When she slept, I would sleep.”
However, she did find her groove when it came to her parenting style and setting boundaries with Kirby and her second child, Will.
“When my kids were coming up, I did not have one of these households where I want to be your friend,” recalls King. “I had a very clear, I am the boss here. This is not a democracy. I do want to hear your opinion. Your opinion matters to me. But at the end of the day, I get to be the one that makes a call.”
“Listen, the kids don’t want to disappoint you any more than you want to disappoint them,” she says. “Deep down, they know that the reason why you have the rules that you have or the boundaries that you have, is because you love and care about them, and that you really want to make sure that they’re OK.”
Looking back, King admits she found out from her now-adult children that she was a bit of a helicopter parent.
“I called Kirby, and I said, ‘Kirby, do you think I was a helicopter parent?'” explains King. “She said, ‘What did Will say?’ I said, ‘I haven’t called him yet. I’m calling you, and then I’m going to call Will.’ She goes, ‘Well, call him.'” Gayle then joked, “Well, all I can say is I hear choppers.” But that’s something King says she “proudly owns.”
She also is not afraid to say that the work-life balance is a tough one.
“You feel, ‘OK, I’m not doing the mom job the best I can. I’m not doing the work job the best I can,'” says King. “I was fine going to the grocery store and buying it and bringing it in for the class,” says King. “I just wasn’t going to feel bad about that.”
She recalls finding out from her then-husband that her daughter had begun walking. At the time, King was anchoring the noon and five o’clock newscast.
“He got to see it and said, ‘Oh, Kirby just walked. I videotaped it,'” says King. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s great,’ and I hung up the phone. Someone came and pet me like a puppy, like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry you had to miss that.’ I go, ‘Well, I’m going see it in what? Oh, five hours. She’s still not going to be running a marathon. So, when I see it, it’ll still be my first time.’ I just thought, I’m not going to beat myself up.”
But today, King is excited to be a grandparent.
“I’m so nuts about this child,” she says. “I’m certainly not the first person to have a grandchild—I realize that, but what I like is seeing Kirby become a mother herself. She’s so good at it. She and her husband, Virgil, are such great partners.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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