"There are good days and bad days [when you're a mother]," Annette Bening says. "I think every parent feels that. Some days, you feel that you're doing it the way you want to do it, and other days, you don't have as much patience."
As the youngest of four, Annette says she always wanted children. "That came first for me," she says. "When I envisioned acting and being a mom, I had a lot of worries that it would be really a hard thing to do together. But, I've found over the years, that I'm so fortunate because I can take such large amounts of time when I'm not shooting anything, and I can really be there for my kids."
Since the early 1970s, Grammy®, Oscar® and Golden Globe® winner Carly Simon has been baring her soul in one heartfelt hit after another. These days, Carly says she chooses to perform with her children, Sally and Ben, whenever possible. "Never is it better than with them. They are the heart and soul of my life," she says.
"When I was a young actress we dealt with the legacy of Katherine Hepburn who said famously, 'You can do one or the other. You can't do both,'" Meryl Streep says. "It came to my mind when I was a young actress. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought, 'Now I'll never be like Katherine Hepburn!' Well, no. But I have a perfectly good life. And thank God I have my children. My God, it's everything. But it's not without compromise and it's not without mess...but I like mess."
"I'm strict about manners," says Oscar® winner Emma Thompson about raising her children. "I think that kids have a horrible time [with other people] if they have bad manners. ... The one thing you've got to be prepared to do as a parent is not to be liked from time to time."
"I think what surprised me the most about [motherhood], as sentimental as it sounds, is how much I love her," says Gwyneth Paltrow about her daughter, Apple. "I mean, I just can't believe it. It's like a whole new dimension in emotion that I've never experienced. It's crazy."
"I lifted up my son with love and delight after feeding him, and he proceeded to vomit into my mouth," says Debra Messing about her son, Roman. "I thought it was hilarious. I love him so much that I would like to put his drool in a bottle and wear it as perfume."
"I spent my life being told I have these fantastic childbearing hips, so I breezed through this pregnancy, merrily eating and gaining 70 pounds, and came to the birth just very excited and really looking forward to it," says Kate Winslet about her pregnancy with daughter, Mia. "I never thought about a Cesarean section. It just didn't occur to me. After 37 hours, they came and said, 'We're going to have to induce you.' And even that didn't work! And then the C-section."
"In my mind...[if] you wake up healthy, and you wake up happy, and your family's safe and happy and healthy, then everything else pales in comparison," says Faith Hill about life with husband Tim McGraw and their three daughters, Gracie, Maggie and Audrey.
"Rene-Charles is a miracle baby for us. It's a dream come true in many ways. I'll never be the same person anymore. As a human being, as a singer, it changed my life completely," Celine Dion says. "I think that children are holding the secret of life. When you're around children, they are everything."
"People ask me what's the best thing you've ever done, the hardest thing you've ever done? The answer is the same: It's being Chelsea's mom," says Senator Hillary Clinton. "When Bill started running for the White House, my only condition was that we do whatever we could to protect her, because it's a very hard life for anybody who goes into it. I kept saying 'no and no and no', and people finally realized that I meant it—and they have given her a chance to be who she is today. I'm most proud of the fact that she is an independent person with a loving heart. She's a wonderful young woman. I'm very grateful for that."
"I can't speak for how children survive divorce because I didn't come from a divorced home," says Trisha Yearwood about becoming a stepmother to husband Garth Brooks' children. "My job is to make that as good a situation as it can possibly be so that they have one more person in their life that's a cheerleader for them, and that wants them to do well."
"I do treasure [motherhood] the most," says Jada Pinkett Smith. "It's the most challenging job I have. It's very difficult. Especially now raising children because they're bombarded with so much information. ... It's about starting with planting those little seeds of self-esteem. We need to start giving our young girls affirming messages. That's what my grandmother did for me. She would always tell me, 'Jada, you can do whatever.'"
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