Zoe Saldana is not afraid to open up about her approach to parenting.
The actress and her husband, Marco Perego-Saldana, have three sons ― twins Cy and Bowie and their little brother Zen. Since becoming a mom in 2014, she has spoken about her experience in a number of interviews, touching on gender stereotypes, work-life balance, the value of having support and more.
In honor of her birthday, we’ve rounded up 12 thoughtful quotes about parenthood from Saldana.
On Having Three Boys
“It always puzzles us. We’re a family of five, and then they’re always like ‘Don’t you want a girl?’ The reality is our family is complete as it came, and we’re very happy and proud of them. We don’t feel like we’re missing anything. It’s funny because now that I have the three boys, I can’t really picture myself with anything else. It’s like, we have enough children. Our mission is to raise decent, amazing, compassionate men who will then pick partners ― whether they’re females or males ― that will pick partners, and hopefully I’ll get to have the daughters later (as a grandmother). But I don’t feel like I’m missing out.”
“Everybody told me, ‘Oh, don’t worry, I know you hate changing diapers, but when you have your own kid...’ Well, guess what? I had my own kids, and I will do whatever I need to do to not change a dirty diaper. A blowout? I can’t do it ― I end up with shit everywhere! There is shit on the boy; there is shit on me; there is shit in my hair. And I’m like, How did this happen?”
On Raising Kids In A ‘Gender-Fluid Environment’
“When you look at parenting, the whole thing about matriarchy and patriarchy, and Daddy’s little girl and Mama’s boys ― my husband and I find that completely ludicrous and absolutely unhealthy for the upbringing of a child. You’re giving them a very distorted and limited view on what a female role is supposed to be in a family and what a male role is supposed to be. [We’re] raising our kids in a very gender-fluid environment, where our roles are we swap back and forth. He’s the bad cop, I’m the good cop and vice versa. There’s no such thing as, ‘Mom’s the boss, listen to your mother.’ No, listen to your father as much as your mother because we stand as a unit.”
On Her Village
“Our assistant, our nanny, and our housekeeper. They are literally raising our children with us. It’s because of them I am able to rip myself away as long as I can, and my husband as well, to do what we do. They’re teaching us how to manage our pain as they’re raising our kids with us.”
On Work-Life Balance
“When you’re away a little too much, it compromises a lot more things. It’s a sacrifice and a pain that will never go away. You take every day at a time. If something changes in their behavior, you know how to adjust to it. ... I don’t want to raise kids who put other people’s priorities first. They need to know how to put their priorities where they need to be. You show them how you fight for your dreams.”
On Exposing Her Boys To Female Superheroes
“I’m raising three boys as someone who has done three movies that have become franchises. My boys are obsessed with female superheroes. And we have to search high and low to find those toys.”
On Post-Pregnancy Bodies
“Throughout the years that I’ve been in this business, women that hide in a cave and they don’t come out until they’re a size zero. And that is a very misleading message to send out to women, especially when women here in LA are the skinniest women out there, and that should concern us. We’re too busy thinking about our appearances and not really thinking about our mental health first as well. ... You have to give yourself time. Breastfeed. Stay home. Sleep. Your kid is only three months old. Like what are you going to the gym for? Catch up on fucking reruns of some sort. I definitely took a break. And I trusted that my body was going to bounce back when it was ready. I never wanted to push myself.”
On Life With Toddler Twins
“I wish I can say, ‘Oh, my God, it’s great.’ It’s [bleeping] bananas. We’re losing our [bleeping] minds. They’re just bananas and they’re gangsters and they’re literally living by night because they don’t [bleeping] sleep.”
On Lessons In Kindness
“As mommies sometimes we forget [to be nice]. We’re caught raising and teaching and disciplining and cooking and cleaning and not enough time to play. I think that my kids always remind me when I’m being too boring. They go, ‘Mama, be nice, sit down and play with me.’ That’s what they’re teaching me.”
On Letting Her Sons Pick Their Clothes
“Their input has begun with their shoes. They just choose what they want to wear. So they have different pairs of glittery, bright pink trainers, and those are the shoes that they always choose. We get them their masculine ones. They don’t like those. They want the glitter, the glitter bright pink ones, and we’re like, so be it. My husband and I, we don’t like to just stick to like the boys’ section. And we like putting leggings on our sons, believe it or not. We’re not going to be able to board that plane. But sometimes when we can’t find something that we need, we’ll go to the girls’ section, and we like seeing our kids, our boys, in pastel, bright pink colors, and they like it as well. So I guess that it starts very young, as children, we gravitate towards color, and sometimes the boys’ section can just be very like gray and dark. So we find ourselves always sliding into the girls’ section, and we have fun.”
On Raising Multicultural Children
“My husband is an immigrant. I’m a first-generation [immigrant]. It is a necessity for us to raise our children with our roots so that they can communicate with their grandparents but also so they can create some kind of empathy for human beings that do no look like them and do not sound like them and do not smell like them.”
On Parenthood Complaints
“I love complaining about the fact that I’m exhausted and I’m tired. Sometimes [my sons] are mean, and the moment you kinda go, ‘Be nice to Momma’ and ... ‘I can’t repeat this anymore,’ they turn back and they just do it. You repurpose, and you’re kind of inspired and you go, ‘I’m so happy I have little boys.’”
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.