Every day is Mother's Day for fans of Live With Regis and Kelly.
That's because Kelly Ripa -- the prettier and perkier half of the popular
morning talk show -- regularly amuses her audience with hilarious tales of
pregnancy, parenthood, and, yes, the occasional poop story. This is a woman who
once famously joked, "I think children are like pancakes: You sort of ruin the
first one, and you get better at it the second time around." Ripa knows of what
she speaks: She has three kids -- Michael, 10; Lola, 6; and Joaquin, 4 -- with
her husband, actor Mark Consuelos.
So what makes Ripa's televised take on motherhood worth tuning in to, and
not simply a broadcast version of swapping wallet-sized photos on PTA night?
Unlike her predecessor, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ripa has managed to escape the
cloying trap and win over devotees with her self-deprecating good humor and
wise approach to the tricky trials of child rearing. In other words, this ain't
the Cody and Cassidy show by a long shot.
She's definitely on to something. Being able to laugh -- at your kids and
yourself -- is essential, says Steven Parker, MD, WebMD's children's health
expert and a pediatrician who co-authored the 1998 edition of Dr. Spock's
Baby and Child Care and wrote a textbook for pediatricians titled
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: A Handbook for Primary Care.
"Children are born to give us a run for our money. Even tough situations we
face with them can ultimately be very, very funny. So be ready to have a
rueful, good sense of humor."
Ripa, 37, is clearly on board. She recounts the time her eldest, Michael,
screamed he was being kidnapped after Ripa told him it was time to leave a toy
store. "He took everything I'd taught him about what to do in that kind of
situation and used it against me," she says with wry indignation. Or when
Joaquin decided to play hide-and-seek under his bed -- long after being tucked
in for the night -- causing a four-alarm meltdown among his family members, who
scoured the apartment as they called his name in vain. "The only thing left to
do was to call 911," says Ripa, but just as she reached for the phone, Mark
discovered their son. "I was shaking, I was so relieved -- and so angry, too!
That kid!" Ripa laughs about it -- now.
And then there is her daughter. According to Ripa's mother, Esther Ripa,
Lola is Kelly's very own Mini Me. "Kelly was an old soul from the beginning,
just full of her own opinions from a very young age, and always so chatty and
mentally ahead, and Lola is exactly the same. ... Girls do love to press your
"Lola challenges me," Ripa agrees with affection. Which raises the question:
Are there obvious differences between parenting her sons and daughter? "Oh,
definitely," she answers. "My sons are forever happy to see me" -- toy stores
notwithstanding -- "and they're snuggly and cuddly. With Lola, everything is up
for debate. Everything is a conversation. First thing in the morning, it's a
major discussion about what she's going to wear. I've learned to give her
limited options: ‘You can wear this or this.' That's what works best."