At one point in her life, legendary host Oprah Winfrey thought about becoming a mother again. In a new interview with People, the now 65-year-old said that when she was living in Chicago during the The Oprah Winfrey Show years, she even bought an additional apartment in order to have more room for welcoming children into her life. However, her willingness to start a family changed some time after.
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After meeting her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, in 1986 while attending a charity event, Winfrey and Graham eventually got engaged. She said, “at one point in Chicago I had bought an additional apartment because I was thinking, ‘Well, if we get married, I’m going to need room for children.'”
However, that all changed while filming The Oprah Winfrey Show, which she hosted for more than 25 years. She said the show allowed her to see “the depth of responsibility and sacrifice that is actually required to be a mother.”
“I realized, ‘Whoa, I’m talking to a lot of messed-up people, and they are messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is.’ I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the way I see other women do. It is why, throughout my years, I have had the highest regard for women who choose to be at home [with] their kids, because I don’t know how you do that all day long. Nobody gives women the credit they deserve.”
Like Oprah has revealed in the past, the actress gave birth to a child when she was just 14 years old. The baby boy, eventually named Canaan, was born prematurely and died shortly after birth. As Good Housekeeping reported, the baby boy was conceived during the years Oprah was sexually abused by a family member.
As someone working 17-hour days at the time, she realized the life she shared with Graham and their two dogs was exactly what she needed to be the successful woman she was and still is. Winfrey says that Graham never demanded anything of her, the way children would or even the way a husband might, and this is what allowed her to have her career and for their relationship to be successful.
In fact, Oprah believes that if she and Graham married, they wouldn’t be together 33 years later like they are now. She believes marriage would have changed everything. Graham agrees.
“I used to think about this all the time, that I was working these 17-hour days, and so were my producers, and then I go home and I have my two dogs and I have Stedman, who’s letting me be who I need to be in the world. He’s never demanding anything from me like, ‘Where’s my breakfast? Where’s my dinner?’ Never any of that, which I believed would have changed had we married.”
To this day, the billionaire says she wouldn’t change a thing. She also believes that her “Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls” in South Africa has filled that “maternal fold” for her in the absence of having more biological children. “Those girls fill that maternal fold that I perhaps would have had. In fact, they overfill — I’m overflowed with maternal.”
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Oprah created the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls after she made a pledge to “former president Nelson Mandela in 2002 to provide a world-class educational platform for marginalized girls that will nurture a new generation of dynamic leaders.”
The philanthropist said in 2017, “When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children.”
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