Brooke Shields is no stranger to the highs and lows of parenting.

The actress and her husband, Chris Henchy, have two daughters, 14-year-old Rowan and 11-year-old Grier. Over the years, Shields has been incredibly open about her experiences as a mother ― from her battle with postpartum depression (the subject of her 2005 memoir Down Came the Rain) to her parenting rules to her hopes for her children. 

In honor of her birthday this week, we’ve compiled some of her most honest and touching quotes about parenthood.

On her fears as a mother

“I’m terrified that I’m not really understanding who they are, and that maybe one day they won’t feel like they can come to me ― that I will somehow fail them … I don’t know if you overcome it. The way I try to get through it is by talking to other moms. Either someone will do something that’s seemingly worse, and I’ll think, ‘At least I didn’t do that,’ but then someone will do something better and I think, ‘I’ve gotta learn that, I’ve got to do that instead!’”

On her advice for new parents

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you think that everybody else has it figured out and you’re the only one that’s going crazy or yelling or feeling like you can’t do it all … you’re not alone.”

On living in the moment

“They’re not going to remember Mom was tired. They’re going to remember I did the weather chart or story time at school. So you just do it. And you’re tired … It’s the mundane stuff that is important.”

On playdates and raising grounded kids

“If you’re not polite, you can’t come to my house. Manners [represent] respect and kindness. I want people to like my kids, and if they’re bratty, they’ll have a harder time in life.”

On the beauty of parenthood

“Once you love someone that much, you think, god, why did I do this to myself? It’s so heart-wrenching! And then you realize: It’s so heart-wrenching. That’s why I did it to myself.”

On her decision to speak out about her postpartum depression

“Because nobody was talking about postpartum depression, and women were suffering all the time. I wanted to educate women who were suffering and families of women who were suffering.”

Mark Avery / Reuters

On being a celebrity parent

“You know, the only reason why it seems like it’s more challenging is because it’s in the public eye to a certain extent and it’s scrutinized, but that is such a minor percentage. Really the challenges are just about being a mom. All moms have them, and nobody’s exempt.”

On staying calm as a mother

“Every day there’s a new challenge. My new thing is not screaming and not screaming back at them. I would engage in an absolute fight, and my husband would say, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you fighting with them?’ … Chris, my husband, calls it FOFO ― Find Out Before You Freak Out. So before I react, I’m now trying to just count to 10.” 

On how becoming a mom changed her life

“It took having a child, for me to feel like I belong, that I’m normal.”

On embracing imperfection as a parent

“I would have thought that I would have become one of those parents — just because it’s my nature to be such a perfectionist — that anything falling short, I would have seen as a failure. But something has happened to me over the past few years — it’s not Zen, believe me, I’m not at all Zen — but I’m so appreciative of even the chaos. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being engaged.”

On work-life balance

“I had a moment where I realized I was spending all of my free time, which is so little, doing events and going to charities. I wasn’t putting my kids to bed at all. When you’re doing theatre it’s almost impossible to put them to bed and it really threw me for a loop. I have to work so when I’m not working, it’s easy to get caught up and say, oh, I’ll do that charity or I’ll do that thing for you. And your kids are with the babysitter and it’s heartbreaking.”

On how having kids changed her attitude toward her career

“Being a mom puts the rejection of being an actress in perspective.”

 

Bruce Glikas via Getty Images

On mom peers

“I get support from other moms and my therapist. It is only as important to connect with mom peers as it gives you comfort. If and when it gets competitive, it becomes toxic.”

On how parenthood shifts your priorities

“However, having my first daughter obliterated me. It took away all my power. All of a sudden I was experiencing something so foreign, which I had no response for. I had no resources to rely on. It was not simply about being the good girl, or being polite, or doing my job. A little human being was involved.”

On the joys of raising children

“What I love most is being able to wake up in the morning with these innocent and truthful little people.”

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