From the outside looking in, Maggie Gyllenhaal thought she could pick a perfect parent out of a crowd.
“I used to be judgmental of the way other people would parent,” the actress, 34, shares in Scholastic Parent & Child‘s August/September issue.
“I would look at someone talking on a cell phone while her baby was asleep in a stroller and think, ‘How can that mother have her cell phone out?’”
But shortly after the birth of daughter Ramona in 2006, as a new member of the motherhood club, Gyllenhaal found her perceptions on parenting suddenly shifting.
“Then you actually have a baby and you’re like, ‘She’s sleeping; I have 10 minutes; I’ll make three phone calls,” she says.
“I think so much of my judgment — not only about how people parent, but about people in general — went away when I became a mom.”
Aside from her newfound approach toward other mothers, Gyllenhaal — who in addition to Ramona, 5½, is also mom to daughter Gloria Ray, 4 months, with husband Peter Sarsgaard — also came to a realization regarding her own parenting powers.
“I was 28 when Ramona was born, and I had this idea that I think a lot of people in their twenties have, that I was supposed to do it perfectly. At least, if not perfectly, then exceptionally well,” she admits.
“I’ve realized that that isn’t possible and that part of being a human is making mistakes — and making lots of them.”
And while Gyllenhaal understands “the element of parenting where you have to be a mom and say no,” she is thoroughly enjoying her blossoming relationship with her mini-me, Ramona.
“The fun part is being with this little person and learning about the world and listening to her questions,” she explains.
“She comes and runs errands with me and we make it fun. When we talk, she talks like a person. She knows the words that she needs. She’ll ask me if she doesn’t. I like that.”
An advocate for a strong education — it’s “one of the most important gifts you can give your kids,” she states — the Won’t Back Down star is looking forward to her daughters’ intellectual futures … with one exception!
“Besides literature, I liked history. I had trouble with math, though,” Gyllenhaal admits.
“I kind of faked my way through it. I don’t know how I’m going to help my daughters with it when the time comes.”