"This was obviously a soul that was just meant to be here," Audra McDonald tells PEOPLE of daughter Sally James, 5 months

By Jen Juneau
March 21, 2017 12:00 PM
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Audra McDonald is counting her blessings.

The Beauty and the Beast star, 46, stopped by to talk to PEOPLE about her work and family — including her and husband Will Swenson‘s new baby girl Sally James, 5 months.

“I’m so lucky. She was such a surprise, and I didn’t think this was where my life would be at this age,” the six-time Tony-winning actress and singer says of becoming a mother again later in life. (McDonald’s daughter from a previous marriage, Zoe Madeline, is 16.)

“But I’m thrilled to be there,” she continues. “This is obviously a soul that was just meant to be here and was like, ‘I’m gonna swoop in and shake your life up.’ ”

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McDonald, Swenson, Sally and Zoe aren’t the only ones making up their household. Swenson, who is a Broadway vet like his wife, has two teenage sons from a previous marriage: Sawyer, 13, and Bridger, 15. And the family also has two dogs.

“Let’s put it this way: It takes a village,” McDonald admits of her brood. “I am very lucky to have my mom next door and that helps, but I think the main thing is just sort of going, ‘Whatever is happening, this, too, shall pass.’ ”

“And we are very lucky to have what we have,” the Private Practice alum continues. “Those are the two things that keep me going on a daily basis.”

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McDonald explains that her baby girl has two favorite songs that her mom sings to her on a regular basis: one when she’s getting ready to feed Sally, and one when she’s about to change “her stinky diaper.”

Luckily for PEOPLE, the working mama was open to sharing some of the lyrics.

“Stanky poo-tanky, your diaper’s stanky poo-tanky, it’s so stanky poo-tanky, I hate it so much,” she sings, adding when PEOPLE’s Jeremy Parsons encourages her to record it, “Maybe Beyoncé and I will do that one too.”

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During a stop by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Monday night, McDonald shared the story behind a recent tweet she posted that read, “I just spilled grits on my baby’s foot… I then ate said grits from said foot. #MotherOfTheYear.”

“I was nursing the baby while I was trying to eat grits — I was in the South doing a concert,” she explains. “And the grits were so good, and I was gonna eat every last bit of it.”

“My last little bit of it landed on her foot, and I was like, ‘I want those grits,’ ” McDonald says, continuing with a laugh, “So while I was nursing her, I just lifted her foot up.”

“And I thought, ‘This is multitasking, and also sort of embarrassing,’ and I had to confess, which is why I went to Twitter to confess. But the grits were just as tasty with a little bit of foot on them.”