Thoughtful Quotes About Motherhood From Meryl Streep

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Grace Gummer, Mamie Gummer, Louisa Gummer, Don Gummer and Meryl Streep at the 34th Kennedy Center Honors Presentation at in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2011. (Photo: Walter McBride via Getty Images)
Grace Gummer, Mamie Gummer, Louisa Gummer, Don Gummer and Meryl Streep at the 34th Kennedy Center Honors Presentation at in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2011. (Photo: Walter McBride via Getty Images)

Meryl Streep knows the balancing act of parenting, working and living in the spotlight.

The actor and her husband, Don Gummer, have four children ― Henry, Mamie, Grace, and Louisa. Since becoming a mom in 1979, she’s embraced the chaos and uncertainty of life with children, which she’s spoken about in various interviews over the years.

In honor of her birthday, we’ve rounded up 14 quotes about motherhood from Streep.

On How Motherhood Changes Things

“Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.”

On Being A Working Mom

“There are lots of women who have done just as much with fewer advantages than I’ve enjoyed. I will always admit that I was lucky that I married a good man, because that made it so much easier to be able to work, even though I would take my children on the set with me when they were very young. I was also careful to choose films that didn’t take me away from my family for more than two weeks at a time because I missed them terribly and I would be miserable without them. But unless you’re doing films back to back, which I never did, you’re often spending much more time with your children than you would otherwise if you worked in an office and only had two weeks’ vacation every year.”

On Her Daughters Pursuing Acting

“I wanted them to follow their own dreams but I did ask them to have a plan B. They made their own way. Grace studied art history and Italian, for example. But I was more worried about how their lives would be possibly disrupted or made more complicated by the media attention that now follows every young actor. I never had to deal with that when I was their age.”

On Parenting In The Spotlight

“Robert Redford taught me that when they were babies. ‘They are not your props.’ I really admired the way he protected his family. It’s something I consciously emulated.”

Mamie Gummer, Grace Gummer and Louisa Gummer attend the New York premiere of
Mamie Gummer, Grace Gummer and Louisa Gummer attend the New York premiere of

On What’s Harder — Mothering Or Acting

“Mothering. Definitely. Acting ― that’s praise, money, fulfillment. Mothering ― they don’t even say, ‘Thank you.’ They don’t even clear the table unless you say, ‘Excuuuse me ... ’ Real life, there’s no comparison to acting. I can’t really call acting work, since it’s secretly so fun. Even the difficult things; it’s satisfying to do the difficult things well. Acting isn’t like real life. Life is about not being sure: Is this the right school for this kid? All those uncertainties.”

On Building Her Family

“I never made any choices, I just got pregnant a lot. And when I was done weaning a baby, I’d start reading scripts.”

On Having Help

“When my children were very young and I was working, I had someone cooking for me. I don’t have a cook now, I haven’t had one for a number of years and I do it myself. But when they were all little it was hard to pay attention to everyone’s homework at the end of the day and make dinner.”

On Her Approach To Parenting

“There is no road map for life. You don’t know who’s going to get sick, who’ll be born with the thing that needs to be dealt with. All you can do is live inside your own life. In my life I’m grateful to have as much time as I’ve had at home, to work in the movies. I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve had with my kids ― a lot of men don’t get that. I encourage my daughters the way my mother did.”

On How Kids Kept Her Humble

“My children stopped me from singing around the house. They are so cruel, really. It’s so humbling and such a good thing if you’re a big movie star to have children.”

On Balancing Work And Motherhood

“[Y]ou have to have a lot of stamina. And you have to have very good organizational skills. I feel like I run a business although I haven’t one. It’s planning, planning, and planning.”

Meryl Streep and her son, Henry Wolfe Gummer, in 2006. (Photo: Bruce Glikas via Getty Images)
Meryl Streep and her son, Henry Wolfe Gummer, in 2006. (Photo: Bruce Glikas via Getty Images)

On Embarrassing Her Kids In “Mamma Mia”

“The girls were saying, ‘Mom, please tell us you’re not going to wear spandex’ and ‘I’m going to have to move to Alaska when this comes out.’ I’d practice singing in my closet. I’m not kidding. If it penetrated the walls I’d hear, ‘Mom. Mom. Mom!’”

On Being Forceful As A Parent At Times

“I had a child who, at 3, would go to the piano, reach up and play. I said we have to get him music lessons. He loves it! He would go in and do this all the time. So, we got a teacher, and it wasn’t a good teacher. From ages 8 to 10, we had two different teachers, and neither one of them were good. But I knew he had this desire. He wanted to quit, and this is how it shakes down in my house: There’s the bad cop, and then there’s Dad. ‘You’re making him live this thing that is your thing and your dream,’ my husband said. And I said, ‘No, this is him, I know it’s him.’ And he said, ‘No, let him quit.’ So I let him quit. Now, cut to age 35, and he is a musician. Self-taught and late in life, he came to it. I keep thinking if he had stayed with it ... You know, a little bit of ‘tiger mom’ is a good thing. Sometimes you have to make them do things they don’t want to do; it’s good for them.”

On Her Daughters’ Careers

“I was very proud of Mamie and her performance. Mamie is a courageous and very sensitive actress and she has a great sense of humor and way of seeing the world. Both Mamie and Grace have been very determined to make their own way as actresses even though they’ve had to work with the burden of having a famous actress mother, which isn’t easy. I’m especially proud of how my daughters never let themselves feel intimidated or overwhelmed by their mother’s career or reputation.”

On Choosing Jobs

“I need to know there is a reason to take time out from the very intricate and exhausting and deeply interesting job of being with my kids and with my husband. To take four months and do a movie, it has to be worth it.”

Also on HuffPost

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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