Debra Messing: Having One Child Was the Best Choice for My Family
The Will & Grace star shared valuable words of wisdom about the "private, intimate" decision to have a child and what she has learned about mom guilt over the years.
November 29, 2018
We've thought of her as Grace Adler since Will & Grace first premiered on NBC in 1998, but Debra Messing has played the role of mom for almost as long. The successful actress has been juggling her work and raising her son Roman for 14 years. It's that balancing act that has definitely given the proud mom of one the ability to offer rich words of wisdom. Messing recently partnered with Colgate Optic White to discuss motherhood, her career, and health/beauty routine (which includes using Colgate Optic White Platinum High Impact White Toothpaste to keep her smile camera-ready), and she opened up to Parents.com about her personal journey toward motherhood, deciding to take a "one and done" approach to growing a family, and how she manages that all too common mom guilt.
Messing notes that she welcomed Roman when she was 35, the age at which many women are pressured to expedite pregnancy. Despite the fact that this sense of urgency is based on antiquated data, women having babies in the latter half of their 30s are still subjected to tongue-wagging about "geriatric pregnancy" (i.e. Meghan Markle, who is expecting her first baby at 37). But Messing wasn't having any of that when she was pregnant—or now.
"I gave birth in my 30s, all of my friends gave birth in their 30s, and it's not a crazy idea to think you can wait until you're in your 30s to give birth," the actress says.
That said, she's all for women exploring the option of freezing their eggs, if it would offer peace of mind. "That is something that was not really common when I was considering having children, but now I know several women who have done that, and it has taken all the pressure off," Messing shares. "I think if it's causing distressing, worrying about it, that's one consideration, and obviously, there's adoption and many different ways you can become a mother."
She also offers heartening words to women in their 30s who may be feeling that pressure: "I think [that] is a beautiful age and a great time in your life, and you will know when it feels right to you. And P.S.: It's no one's business. That's the bottom line. People like to give advice about procreating, and it's a very private, intimate thing, and you don’t owe anybody an explanation. And if people are stressing you out, you can say to them, 'I’ve got it covered, thank you for the concern.'"
Messing's sense of self and confidence extends to how the actress feels about being a mom of one. "I think that there are certain women who are built to be able to have five, six children and are able to multitask and handle the sort of innate chaos of having lots and lots of kids," she says. "I know myself, and I'm not built that way."
The actress appreciates the "logistics" of having one child, sharing, "What I love about having one is ... dealing with pickups at school and after-school activities while you’re also a working woman, it is easier with one child versus many children."
Messing also acknowledges "the downside," which is the absence of siblings. "That is something I have often regretted," she reveals. "But I feel like this is the family I have, and I embrace it and love it and know that there are pros and cons no matter what configuration your family has."
And regardless of that configuration, there's one thing all too many moms of one, two, or more all suffer from: guilt. "I think the greatest challenge of being a mother, period, is just balancing work and family," Messing says. "There's always this wanting to be with my son, all the time, and sort of overcoming the guilt of that I think is a big hurdle."
But, moms of little ones, take heart, as it does get easier to cope. "It was much harder when I was a new mom," Messing says. "Now, I realize and recognize that work does feed me in a very important way that nothing else does, and I do believe I am a better mother when I am working."
Messing knows her experience is certainly one that's shared by other moms, who she encourages to "be gentle" with themselves. "It's a matter of recognizing that some hours you're going to feel like you're winning the mother prize, and some hours, you're going to feel like you're not," she notes. "But that overall, you know, it's a one-day-at-a-time thing, and as long as you're doing your best to try and accomplish balance, then that's all you can really ask of yourself."