Ellen Pompeo knows the ups and downs of parenthood.
The “Grey’s Anatomy” star has three children ― Stella, Sienna and Eli ― with her husband, Chris Ivery. Over the years, she’s spoken about her parenting experience, from potty training to work/life balance to raising confident kids.
In honor of her birthday, here are 11 quotes about motherhood from Pompeo.
On What Her Kids Have Taught Her
“Every mistake and every moment is a teaching moment. I make a lot of mistakes. You just learn. Kids are just so open and honest, and you could get down on yourself a lot as a parent, like ‘Oh, I’m not there enough.’ It’s easier to beat yourself up and feel guilty. But you can’t adopt a sort of victim’s attitude, you have to adopt an optimistic, can do, ‘How do I fix it?’ attitude with kids. You can’t sort of wallow in your own self-pity. ‘I should have done this, I should have done that,’ there’s no time to do that if someone’s life is in your hands.”
On Having Help
“I have the most fantastic baby nurse, Jackie, who’s also backstage. Hi, Jackie! She helps me. I’d be nowhere without her, because I work long days and I need help caring for [Eli]. And she’s got my back.”
On Raising Biracial Kids
“My daughters are black so it’s very important to me that they see a lot of images of beautiful, powerful, strong black women. Every time there is a black woman on a magazine cover, whether it is Kerry Washington or whoever it is, I make sure that magazine is in my house and on my table. For me, that’s super important. Every time [Venus and Serena Williams] play tennis, I make sure my daughters watch them. I feel really fortunate that they are growing up in a time [in which] the first president my daughter knows is Barack Obama. That’s an incredible gift.”
On What Surprised Her About Becoming A Mom
“Oh my God, how my feelings would get even more intense. I’m already a super emotional person, and life can be quite painful for me sometimes because I feel things so deeply, and I feel things even more deeply now that I’m a parent. And it’s hard. You know, you worry so much about them, and it’s really hard. We’re living in a crazy, polluted, violent, angry world. There’s a lot to be fearful of for them.”
″[Sienna] was born via surrogate, so I felt an obligation to keep the surrogate’s privacy. That was of utmost importance to me … This is an incredible thing to do with your life, to give the gift of carrying someone’s child. I am forever grateful and feel very blessed and grateful to her — she who will remain anonymous. I was there with her when they inseminated her, and we held hands. I looked into the microscope and I saw the embryo. I saw the baby, and they put it in a thingy and they inseminated her. And then we held hands and we prayed, we talked to God … He said he was going to try to help us out and now we have a gorgeous baby girl.”
On What She Wants Her Daughters To Know
“To not be afraid. When something doesn’t feel right or seem right, or you see something that isn’t right, speak up. Whether it’s your own body or your own experience, or you see someone else doing something to someone else, speak up, do not be silent. Don’t worry about what people think of you. I wish someone had told me that when I was young, but you can’t worry about what people think of you, because they are too busy wondering what you’re thinking of them.”
On Work/Life Balance
“Shonda Rhimes has been amazing. She lets us be mothers. I don’t have to travel. I don’t have to go anywhere.”
On Potty Training
“I think stickers really work. It was a method that really worked for me. We’re not quite there with Eli yet, but certainly with Sienna, that’s what we do. I think when I’m not around, my husband [Chris Ivery] offers lollipops, which kind of gets me in trouble! But I don’t know anything about the lollipops, I only know about the stickers …”
On Parenting Siblings
″[Stella’s] super helpful. Her little sister is a handful, so she’s amazing! I mean, I’m very lucky, I have a lot of great people who help me, and I have help from wherever I can get it!”
On Raising Confident Kids
“I try to get them involved in a lot of things because I think if you know how to do a lot of things ― dancing, riding horses, whatever ― I mean that sounds a little fancy because my kids are fortunate and they’re able to do a lot of things, but even if it’s kicking soccer ball, even if it’s learning how to jump rope, that’s how you get confident. That’s how you get confidence ― when you’re good at things. Whether it’s making pancakes, whether it’s learning double dutch, whether it’s drawing — whatever it is, just try a lot of different things. When you’re good at things, you have confidence. Whether it’s swimming, whatever it is, jungle gym, you know your math problems in school, if you’re good at things you’ll be confident, and the more things you’re good at, the more confidence you’ll have. Because you’ll see, ‘Oh, math was hard. But I mastered it.’ Great. ‘Oh, soccer was hard, but now I’m good at it, I’m doing it every day.’”
“Kindness just goes so much further. Everybody has their own story, and everybody’s situation is different, so no judgment ― only kindness.”