SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Lisa Ling is feeling unstoppable.
The only thing standing in her way at the moment is an elusive battery cover on a Fisher-Price mobile gym. Three screwdrivers later and she still can't figure out how to insert the batteries.
But everything else in Ling's zen-like home, a stone's throw from the beach in Santa Monica, is perfectly in order — including Ling, who appears completely at ease with new motherhood. The 39-year-old journalist and husband Paul Song welcomed their first child on March 8.
There's not a hair out of place as she rushes around assembling baby toys on the dining room table and tending to 9-week-old daughter Jett.
"That's why I have makeup caked on me because I am totally sleep-deprived!" joked Ling. "I love this experience and this journey that my husband and I are on. It is hard. I'm not going to say that there is anything easy about it, but I feel unstoppable. I'm determined to raise a strong girl."
She's also determined not to slow down. In a recent interview, Ling discussed why she's ready to get back to work, her Dove campaign to promote girl's self-esteem and if she's planning for baby No. 2...
AP: Why did you decide to get involved with Dove's "Let's Make Girls Unstoppable" initiative?
Ling: This campaign in particular really struck a chord with me, given the fact that I just gave birth to a baby girl. And even before I had her, I started to get really concerned about this world that she's growing up in, the kinds of images, the kinds of role models that she will be exposed to and that she will have.
AP: Did you ever struggle with self-esteem issues?
Ling: I started working in television quite young actually and I definitely felt very insecure about what I looked like. ... My first job in TV was hosting this young teen magazine show and all these high school teenagers showed up from all over Sacramento, Calif., and they chose four of us to host the show, two boys and two girls. And of the two girls, I was kind of the perky smart one and the other girl was the pretty one. It made me feel very insecure and I had to really work though that.
AP: How do you plan to raise a confident daughter?
Ling: My husband, for example, with our daughter, he tells her every time he sees her, 'you're beautiful, you're beautiful.' He wants her to hear from the most important man in her life that she's beautiful so she doesn't have to seek validation anywhere else. ... I'm determined to shower her with as much love as I can and expose her to as much diversity as I can.
AP: You say you're ready to get back on the road for your Oprah Winfrey Network series "Our America with Lisa Ling." Was returning to work ever a question in your mind?
Ling: Personally I've always known that I wanted to go back to work because I'm confident and I'm certain that my daughter will have a better mother in me if I'm doing the things that I'm excited about and that I'm passionate about. ... I'm proud of the work that I'm doing and I hope that my daughter will be proud of that too.
AP: Who was most responsible for instilling your sense of self-esteem?
Ling: My role model in life has been my grandmother, who passed away when I was 18-years-old. But she was someone who was educated at Cambridge in music and carried the weight of her family on her back and was just an intrinsically beautiful woman. ... I definitely hope that my daughter will see those kinds of qualities in me one day. Every decision I've made, I've always thought, 'is this something I can be proud of?' And now, all the decisions that I make I think, 'is this something that Jett will be proud of?' The kinds of role models and the kinds of women that she will eventually look up to and revere, I want those to be really strong women 'cause I want her to be a strong woman.
AP: So are you ready for baby No. 2?
Ling: We're just trying to figure out No. 1 for a while. We're going to see how it goes!