By People Staff
May 20, 2002 12:00 PM

Ahhh, Mom. She’s…

“… the closest friend I have,” says CNN’s Paula Zahn. “She knows me better than anyone else.”

“When I do something great, I know she’ll be very proud of me,” says Olympic skater Sarah Hughes. “And when I don’t do something great, I know she’ll be the first one to tell me.”

Mom’s good for advice about your career and the family cookie recipe (“You have to carry on the tradition,” says Kelly Ripa).

And for anyone raising kids; Mom has already been there. “Now that I’m a mother,” says Celine Dion, “I realize how hard she worked. My mother is my hero.”

On the occasion of Mother’s Day—May 12—these nine celeb daughters took a moment to pose with their moms and say, “Thanks.”

Kelly and Essie Ripa

She calls several times a day. She sends photos of potential Emmy dresses for approval. And one day Kelly Ripa, 31, plans to pass along to her 11-month-old daughter, Lola, the best advice her homemaker mother, Essie, 61, ever gave her: “Never, ever pursue a man.” The All My Children star takes the counsel so to heart that her husband on and off TV, Mark Consuelos, 31, still asks, “How come you’re not returning my calls,” she jokes. Whether advising her on cutting cookies—or, back home in Berlin, N.J., not cutting class—”Mom has never been wrong,” says Kelly. Well, once maybe. Essie didn’t like what ABC put her kid through before hiring her in 2001 for Live with Regis and Kelly. “After the sixth audition I thought she had given them enough. I said, ‘Why don’t you let it go?’ ” Nobody’s that perfect.

Laura Bush and Jenna Welch

Jenna Welch, 82, gave her only child a love of books, wildflowers and cooking. But it was Laura, 55, who got her Midland, Texas, Girl Scout leader mom into warblers. “When I got my bird badge, she became a very serious bird watcher,” says the First Lady. “She really taught me to appreciate the majesty of the natural world.” These days Bush is showing Welch the majesty of the White House—in between a more common mother-daughter hobby. Says Welch: “We love to shop.”

Venus, Serena and Oracene Williams

“She taught us how to be real mean,” says Serena, 20. Just kidding—but in hardscrabble Compton, Calif., Oracene, 50, did raise tennis’s dynamic duo to be resilient. “I’d say, ‘Give it 100 percent and learn from every mistake you make,'” says the ex-teacher and nurse. “Not all people are reliable, but I can count on her,” says Venus, 21. “We like her. We’ll keep her.”

Sarah and Amy Hughes

What do you say to the woman who spent 10 years driving you to skating practice—and can remind you there’s life after a flubbed triple axel? How about: “Aw, Mom, do I have to load the dishwasher?” After Sarah, 17, the fourth of six kids, won Olympic gold in February, ex-accountant Amy, 52, cut her a break: She can empty it instead. Chores aside, Sarah is happy Amy, once her “guide,” has become “more of a friend.” So is Mom: “She shows me how to shop on the Internet.”

Paula and Betty Zahn

Oh, the horror: When Paula was a kid in Chicago, Betty worked as a substitute at her school. “My mother teaching gym class—it was so embarrassing,” says Paula, 46. The CNN anchor has become more receptive to Mom’s lessons. A breast-cancer survivor, “she taught me to seize the day,” says Paula, who has taken Betty, 76, on assignments to France and the White House. Betty says Paula learned well: “She’s not a wimp.”

Naomi Judd and Polly Judd Rideout

As a PTA parent and Sunday-school teacher, Polly, 74, says she made sure she “was a permanent fixture” in Naomi’s life. Long before she was elected the Ashland, Ky., city commissioner in 2000, Polly instilled a deep sense of civic duty in her country star kid. “She would be cooking supper,” recalls Naomi, 56, “have a baby on her hip and be talking about how she needed to call and get a traffic light installed at a busy intersection.”

Celine and Thérèse Dion

Why does the singer still keep the old nightgown she used as a baby blankie? Because it belonged to her mom, Thérèse, 75, who not only gave her 14th child “lots of love” but also acted as her first manager and wrote her first song in between “sewing, knitting and repairing our socks,” says Dion, 34. “She gave me all her energy.”

Kim and Tina Raver

“I always thought it was wonderful Kim had strong ideas about what she wanted,” says Tina Raver, 62. Like when the Third Watch star, at age 5, declared her desire to be an egg for Halloween. Staying up all night in their Manhattan apartment, Tina, then a single mom working long hours as a TV commercial producer to support Kim and her older sister, constructed a white papier-mâché shell with neck and leg holes. In the morning little Kim was over the moon. “When I think about what my mother did for me as a child, how she encouraged my fantasies and made them happen, I am so grateful,” says Kim, 32, who is expecting her first child with her husband, filmmaker Manuel Boyer, in July. “I realize I have a lot to live up to.”