Amy Wilson has starred on shows such as Law & Order Criminal Intent, Ed, Felicity, The Norm Show and several TV movies. Not to mention her English degree, Broadway hit Mother Load and her book When Did I Get Like This? Amidst her busy career, Amy is also mom to three young kids. While she admits there’s “never a dull moment” in her home, Amy also tells Celebrity Baby Scoop about how she balances it all, her mommy-confessional book and her “how-not-to” parenting advice.
CBS: You began acting after graduating from Yale with a degree in English. You’ve appeared on Broadway, in movies like Kinsey, and on several TV series such as Norm and Felicity. What made you enter acting after university?
AW: “Acting was always my first love, and what I knew I wanted to do with my life – I mostly majored in English in order to appease my parents’ concern that I should have a ‘real’ degree to fall back on. But I also loved writing, and I’m so glad I got that degree and that experience, because writing my own material to perform led to many of my early ‘breaks’ in my acting career.”
CBS: Tell us about your book, When Did I Get Like This? What inspired you to write the book? What is the book all about?
AW: “When Did I Get Like This? came out of a one-woman show I wrote, called Mother Load, that I still tour with around the country. Both the show and the book are about motherhood in the age of anxiety. The ‘mother load’ is the overwhelming burden of guilt we get as mothers every time we open a magazine, go to the doctor’s office, go on the internet, go to the playground. Nothing we do is ever quite good enough, and we find ourselves scrambling to keep up, although we all thought we’d have it so much easier than our own mothers did.
When Did I Get Like This? is about all the times in the last seven years of motherhood that I’ve gone over to the dark side in what began as a simple and sincere desire to do what was ‘best’ for my children. It’s a honorable intention, but it has led me to some pretty silly places.”
CBS: You are the mother of three children under 7. Please tell us their names and their ages.
AW: “Connor is 7, Seamus is almost 6, Maggie is 2 1/2.”
CBS: What are your kids into? And how do you keep up with them all?
AW: “Oh, goodness. My boys take soccer and karate and baseball at some point during the school year. My 6 year old loves to take art classes, and he’s gunning for guitar lessons. My 2 year old takes classes in gymnastics and cooking. It requires some gymnastics of my own to get them all where they need to be. It’s a lot, but we also build in time for the kids to do nothing, to come home and play Legos or read or stare at the wall. Kids need down time just like grownups do.”
CBS: You’ve contributed articles to various magazines and blogs. What are some of your favorite topics to write about?
AW: “Well, parenting, obviously– but not ‘how-to’ articles. If anything, what I write is more like ‘how-to-not.’ I like exploring all the things that mothers worry about (because they’ve been told to worry about them) and how most of it, in the end, is not quite as mountainous as it seems at the moment.”
CBS: Will you be returning to acting?
AW: “I never left, fully, although it’s quite a lengthy detour from an acting career to have three pregnancies (and three sets of baby weight to lose) in five years. And I’m not willing to be apart from my children for more than a couple of days, which also limits what I’m willing to audition for. But I just worked on a horror movie called Occupant, and I tour the country with my one-woman show Mother Load, so I do work pretty regularly.”
CBS: How has motherhood changed you?
AW: “Well, it’s made me unwilling to be away from home for very long, like I said– although when I do travel, for my show or my book, I treasure those solo airplane trips! I now have something that matters to me more than my career, more than ‘proving’ myself– and while it’s taken away a lot of my drive, I am so fulfilled and happy in my day-to-day life. I feel so blessed.”
CBS: It seems like you’re the type of mom to confess to frazzled mom moments. Why do you think so many women feel shame in admitting that motherhood is really hard? Can you give us a mommy confession?
AW: “When Did I Get Like This? is one long mommy confession, to tell you the truth. I don’t poke fun at anyone else in that book nearly as much as I poke fun at myself. I feel like there are plenty of ‘experts’ out there to steer moms wrong every step of the way (and overcharge them for the privilege), but I was the sucker who kept falling for it.
I’m so glad I confessed everything I did in this book, because I keep hearing from women who have read it that they feel exactly the same way as I do– it’s just that they’ve never said it out loud. We all have these fears of failure– it’s just that each of us thinks we’re alone in feeling that way. I can now say, for sure, that we are not alone.”
CBS: What are some of the greatest lessons motherhood has taught you?
AW: “I have finally figured out that the more time I spend trying to be the ‘best’ mom I can be, the less of me my children get to have. They don’t care if I have Gwen Stefani’s abs, if the eggs are free-range, if their markers are nontoxic and their paper from recycled fibers. They would much rather have chicken nuggets for dinner (again), laundry piled up to the ceiling, and my full, undivided attention, down on the floor playing with them for half an hour.
I’ve also learned that a happy mom is a fulfilled one. When I’m writing, or acting, or doing these other things that I love, I’m so fulfilled– and I’m therefore a happier, more patient mother at home. Being a martyr and giving up one hundred percent of yourself won’t impress your family; they won’t even notice– at least until you lose your mind because you’re tired of being walked all over. It’s okay to set some time aside to be the person you used to be before you were a mother. It doesn’t have to mean you’re selfish. I think you can actually be a better mother for it.”
CBS: If you are working on any other projects, please feel free to discuss.
AW: “I’m starting work on a second book, and writing a television pilot as well. Mother Load is gearing up for another tour this fall (you can find out more– and request we come to your town– at motherloadshow.com), and I blog as often as I can on motherloadtheblog.com. Never a dull moment!”