Opening up on her decision not to have kids in an interview on Gwyneth Paltrow‘s first episode of “The Goop” podcast, 64-year-old billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey, disclosed that she took the decision because she doesn’t have motherly instincts.
Oprah Winfrey further disclosed that she couldn’t have raised two babies like Paltrow, because raising babies would have been too frustrating and she would have been a terrible mother because she can’t communicate with anyone who cannot speak.
Throughout the two women’s conversation, Winfrey discussed her choice to refrain from having kids—she just doesn’t like babies all that much. She also explains the rich and varied ways that decision has led her to be a mother beyond the conventional definition, to women ranging from the students at the school she founded in South Africa, to her friend and A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay—and arguably, her many viewers and fans.
Oprah Winfrey further disclosed that channeling her nurturing instincts toward people other than biological children, has made her the dynamo she is today and her success is based on her ability to relate to others.
‘I don’t think I would have been a good mother for baby children, because I need you to talk to me, and I need you to tell me what’s wrong. I can’t just figure it out. And I was always—I knew this about myself. I was always better with kids once they turned two-and-a-half, three, I had a real resonance with them. Gayle was like, “Don’t you love babies?” I was like, “Oh babies are fine.” … It didn’t feel like it was for me.
So I was searching even for that: What is the higher ground for me? Where will I be able to find my instinct for nurturing and caring and support for other people? Where will that show up for me, and how will that show up for me?”
One outlet Winfrey found for this instinct is outside Johannesburg, South Africa, where she created the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school for young women in grades eight through 12.
She refers to the students there as “my beautiful South African daughters,” and describes a relationship far less fraught than many tied by biological motherhood. “I don’t have that parenting thing of: ‘You gotta do well, cause it makes me look good,’” says Winfrey. “I just have your highest well-being as my only agenda.
“That, to me, is the ideal characteristic of a mother,” replies Paltrow. “And it’s so difficult … to not project and not see your own shortcomings in your kid and get triggered by it… It’s so funny because you’re technically not a mother—and that is the most profound and insightful sentence about mothering. You just really crystallized something for me there.”