More Mommy Melissa

Outtakes from the June 22, 1999 issue cover story about Melissa Etheridge and motherhood

BY Sara Miles

June 21 1999 11:00 PM ET

You know, I really would like to talk to you about parenting. What that's been like? People say, "Oh, it changes you so much" Yeah, there's a lot of things that this whole experience has changed my mind about. One regards my feminist tendencies, where I was like, you know, "The only differences between girls and boys are the way our society raises them and it's because of all this." And I'm here to tell you: You know what? There's something in most girls and boys. Girls develop their fine motor skills first. And [2-year-old Bailey] is interested in putting clothes on the dolls. And I'll get her a truck or something, but she's interested in putting the people in it and interested in making the things happen and building the things. And one of her best friends is a boy that was born three days before her, and with the same type of parenting, there's just nothing different. He's all about balls and vroom, you know, and how things go and smash.

And smashing. It's very large, the gross motor skills. Everything's very big. And I can already see the difference in five months in [our 6-month-old son] Beckett. I can already see the things that he's good at. What's important to him, what drives him. To where Bailey was much more cerebral or something.

That's so interesting. And everybody's different, and I just can't make generalizations anymore, I really can't. I realize how unique each individual is. And then the whole idea of how having a child I'm much more concerned about the world. I mean, I was concerned, but it was sort of a finite concern. Before it was only, you know, however many years I'm around. But you know what? I want the world to be better perfect because my children are going to be here after me, and their children. And there's something when you achieve that; things mean more. Things matter.

Do you feel more connected to other people in a way?Yeah. I feel more connected about how everyone was parented and how parenting is the single most important thing.

One of the things that really was hard for me was adjusting to the way that being a mom brought up all these issues about my own. About your own parenting.

Do you feel like you catch yourself being your mom or your dad or both? I catch myself.

Does it make you understand more about your mother?Well, it makes me understand. It also makes me angrier about the things that they didn't do. It brings up issues for me.

Like what? I don't know if I can be specific. It's kind of broad generalizations. And one thing that's important to me is to acknowledge and present my emotions, to tell my daughter that I'm an emotional person. That we all are. That you are too. And to honor all of her emotions. Whereas when I was growing up, it was, "Don't cry, don't cry. Everything's OK. Don't be angry. None of us are angry. We're not angry." There's no, "Everything's fine." It's this sort of untruth going on.

Right. But I think that was a very '50s, '60s, even '70s kind of thing that everything was just fine.

Just kind of smooth surface.Yeah, which is untrue. Which is like, oh, OK, everything's nice, but there's something very wrong here. And now I say to Bailey, "I understand you're angry; there's nothing wrong with that. You just can't hit the dog." You know? I'm sorry, you can't hit the dog. But it's not, "I don't want you not to be angry," because it's OK to be angry, but let's find other things to do to channel that out, you know.

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