Hoda Kotb got a little emotional during her Today show return on Tuesday.
The mother of two, who just returned to her TV post following months on maternity leave, couldn’t help but get teary-eyed as she spoke with her guest co-host, Maria Shriver, on Today‘s 10 o’clock hour series, Hoda & Jenna.
Kotb, 55, entered the set to a surprise band performing “When the Saints Go Marching In” along with cheers and hugs from colleagues and friends.
“It feels great,” the mother of Hope Catherine, whom she adopted in April, and 2½-year-old Haley Joy, told Shriver as she fought back tears.
“I love that,” said Shriver.
“When you feel the love you feel that people are happy to see you, it’s such a gift to feel like that in your heart, everybody loves you and is so happy that you’re back and that you took the time, and look, you’re the Hoda today,” she added, comforting Kotb with her hand on her shoulder.
Still emotional, the Today host shared how appreciative she felt to have Shriver with her on the show while her co-host, Jenna Bush Hager, is on her own maternity leave after giving birth to her son, Henry “Hal” Harold, on Aug. 2.
“Maria I’m so happy you’re here … they said who should be here when you come back and literally, I could only think of one person, and it was you,” Kotb told Shriver.
“I just want to say that I feel your love for me,” Shriver responded. “When you can let your friend know that you love them and they’re important, that’s the greatest gift that you can give to another human being in our lives.”
The two continued to chat on-air about Kotb’s maternity leave experience, the host sharing how “moved” and “touched” she felt after going through such a journey.
“I feel very clear about life suddenly,” Kotb added. “I have my world in check probably for the first time ever.”
“I think that’s what’s beautiful about you is that you allow yourself to show that you’re moved, allow yourself to be moved, to be loved, to be touched, to be calm,” Shriver said.
Earlier that morning on Tuesday’s episode of Today, Kotb told her co-hosts that she had the “greatest summer of [her] life” with her daughters, but returning to the show felt a little like “Christmas morning.”
“I went to bed last night I popped up at 3:15 and I was like, ‘I get to come home!’“
“I know it was a lot of time to take off and I felt a little bad about it but in reality, life is a blink,” Kotb told co-anchors Savannah Guthrie, 47, Al Roker, 65, and Carson Daly, 46, snapping her fingers. “And you get this moment, and so I decided that I’m gonna take it. And when I’m at work, I’m gonna be 100 percent here.”
And while Kotb’s daughters have “taught [her] so much” about living in the moment and she cherishes her time at home with them, she told her co-hosts and fans on Today that she was extremely happy to be in the studio with her colleagues again.
“I’m happy to be here, I have to tell you. Walking in the door this morning made me feel so good — seeing [Savannah’s] face in the makeup room and seeing you, Al, when you walked in, and Carson, it just filled me up,” she gushed. “And I feel like, ‘Who’s luckier than me? Nobody.’ “
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