Article: Actress Anna Wood, wife of Valerian star, Dane Dehaan, and new mother to daughter Bowie, talks motherhood, achieving balance, and the idea of “having it all.” + UHQ Photos
How long have you been a mother?
I’ve been a mother to Bowie since April 2nd, going on six months now. But I’ve always been a mother at heart. Being a caretaker runs in my family, and I’ve just always assumed that role among my friends.
What is the best part of being a mother?
There are so many amazing parts; both big milestones and tiny magical moments. It’d be impossible to pick one best part, but among them would be the strength my daughter gives me. I’ve always been a people pleaser, often to a fault. Perhaps it’s that I am her voice now, and not just my own, and that I’m advocating for her in all I do, but she’s given me the power to speak up for myself and to be unapologetic about it. I’ve surprised myself over and over again these last several months with my honesty and confidence. She made me the bad ass I’ve been trying to be this whole time.
What is the hardest part?
It’s gotta be the sleep. Simple as that. The lack thereof. I recently wept in mourning for all the naps I opted out of before I was a mom. And even when I do get decent sleep now, I feel like it’s with one eye open, so to speak. I miss that blissful alarm-less surrender.
What is the biggest sacrifice you have made so far?
She fits into our life really well. We take her everywhere. We haven’t given up much at all yet. And we are so lucky to say that. There are days where, sure, a year ago I’d stay out at night a little longer, have that next glass of rosé… Now I see more sunrises, and drink a lot more coffee. Anything I’ve given up has really been replaced by something greater. Except for sleep. I miss sleep.
Can you have it all?
I mean, what is “it all”? You can have whatever and however much you want, if you’re willing to put in the work I suppose. For some “it all” is juggling work, family, parenthood, and self. For some it’s just rocking out motherhood and managing to keep the home running smoothly. I think having it all is keeping yourself fulfilled, outside of, or in addition to parenthood. Or hell, INSTEAD of parenthood if that’s what makes you happy. But trying to achieve perfect instagram mom status, with the gorgeous family and home, and bustling career, and precision red lipstick, is only “having it all” if you have joy and peace. I just went back to work last week, and it was hard as shit to balance spending time with my family, prepping my workload, shooting 13-16 hour days, securing childcare I can be confident in, and managing to squeeze in a shower or two along the way. But at the end of the week, I reveled in having had that outlet for my creativity, and I’ve been feeling the most like myself, and most complete, since Bowie was born.
How do you deal with expectations in your personal life?
When it comes to parenthood, we willfully tune pretty much everyone out. We didn’t let anyone know we were even on the way to the hospital. And we didn’t allow family to visit until we had gotten several days to get to know Bowie. Even then, we refused help. Part of that is outright stubbornness. But we also knew that we wanted to start a communication and intuition with this kid, free of people’s opinions or experiences. Everyone has something that works for them. We wanted to discover our parenthood ourselves.
And in your professional life?
When it comes to career, I live by the philosophy “expect the worst, hope for the best.” I mean this not in a pessimistic way, but a self-preserving way. I spent too many years thinking “this is it, my break!” or, “I work so hard karma owes me” or, “I deserve this.” Blah, blah, blah. I DO work hard and I do earn my gigs. But I’ve learned that we are trying to meld art and business in a way that isn’t always pretty, and is rarely ever fair. Nothing in this business is personal. It’s a business. As soon as you take your feelings out of the comings and goings of the business side, you can preserve them for the art. All I can do is my absolute best work. Whether I’m tall enough, or pretty enough, or in the right place at the right time has nothing to do with ME. So I’m just working on expecting my best work from myself. Because that’s all I can control. And the rest is out of my hands.
What do you think of balance? Silly question?
I think it’s worth trying to achieve. And I think the secret may be that part of finding balance is understanding that it rarely actually exists. Perhaps the most important part of balance is self-care and kindness. We are so hard on ourselves.
What keeps you up at night?
I get anxious about keeping our family together. So often projects take us around the world, and I get precious about our time as a unit. I sometimes feel like the manager of a tiny traveling circus.
What is the most important thing you can do as a mother?
Well, I think it’s different for everyone. Some of us could use more confidence. Some could use more discipline. For me, it’s about relaxing. Enjoying our time. Being present. If this baby wants to stare into my eyes, it’s dropping everything and staring back. She won’t always want to do that. So I’m soaking that up now. And relaxing into my intuition. Men and women have parented since the dawn of time. Most of them did not fuck it up. You are not going to fuck it up either. It’s a normal part of being a human. Have fun!!
What do you consider or hope to be your legacy?
For me, part of staying present is not considering these things. Easier said than done, of course. I hope that I raise a strong, confident, genuine person. I hope that to have been a good partner to Dane for all of our days. And I hope that I work enough in this business to end up in the “In Memoriam” segment at the Emmy’s the year I bite the dust.
Do you want more children?
We are living beyond day to day, more like hour to hour right now. I’m super close to my siblings so I know how important that relationship can be. I love the idea of more kids. But I also know a bunch of only children who are awesome humans. So who knows? They’ll be a time where it either feels right or it doesn’t.
Have any mother-daughter rituals been put in motion since Bowie was born?
I try and spend an hour or so each day playing music and singing for her. I play piano and guitar. I let her clang on the keys or strum the strings. She dances as soon as the music starts. I will play anything and everything, although actual children’s songs are rarely on the playlist. She likes Billy Joel, Cat Stevens, Bruno Mars, Joni Mitchell and Chopin. Working on that eclectic taste!
Most fun you have had so far as a mother?
Now that she smiles and giggles, anytime I can get her to do that, it gives me life. Seriously, bouncing her in the sky and seeing her loving the thrill is magical. But it’s the spontaneous things we stumble into that turn out the most fun. The live band that has her screaming for joy, the little toy shop where she fell head over heels in love with a mermaid doll and a peacock puppet. The fact that she is already undeniably 100% a daddy’s girl. It’s ALL so fun, and so magical, it blows my mind.
In addition to this article I’ve added the now hard to find photos from the article to the gallery in UHQ. Click below to view them.