Mary-Louise Parker on Momhood and Marijuana
The "Weeds" actress talks about blended families, acting, and legalizing pot.
Mary-Louise Parker on parenting continued...
In her own life, Parker puts her kids first. She became a mother for the
first time at 39 -- her son, William Atticus Parker, is now 5. (Dad is actor
Billy Crudup, who famously ended their relationship shortly before William was
born.) Three years later, she went to Ethiopia to adopt daughter Aberash, who’s
now two and a half.
"I think I hit both ends of the scale, from permissive to disciplinarian,"
she says of her real-life parenting. "Sometimes we’ll get up in the middle of
dinner and have a dance party, just because there’s music on and everybody's
happy. There's also one wall in my living room that the kids are allowed to
paint on, and sometimes we’ll empty all the food that's gone bad out of the
refrigerator, put it in a bucket, mash it around, and call it witches' brew. In
that sense I’m free.
"But on the other hand, this is your bedtime, and no, we're not buying any
more of that right now, and you can't have everything you want, and you have to
say thank you and may I, please."
With such a clear sense of both fun and boundaries for her own children,
does it trouble Parker to play a mother who’s so clearly damaging her kids? Not
at all -- in fact, she revels in it.
"Anything that's polar from your own experience is sort of freeing. It
allows you to use your imagination in a broader way than you might if it was
something you felt you could relate to," she says. "I want to play people who
are different from me in extreme ways, and who do things I can't quite conceive
Adopting Ash Parker
Although she'd dreamed of adopting a child since she was young, bringing
home a baby from Ethiopia was something Parker couldn't quite imagine -- until
she did it. "I didn’t know a lot about adoption," she says. "I finally just
decided, OK, I'm going to do this, and it's going to be really hard because I'm
single, and I'm going to do it anyway. I had a couple of countries floating
around in my mind -- I had thought of maybe Vietnam -- but it was all vague and
Then she met with Jane Aronson, the "orphan doctor" and renowned expert on
international adoptions. "After an hour of talking to her, I was, like,
Ethiopia. It had never occurred to me before, but she showed me some pictures
of the kids and showed me the need level there, and I wanted to go somewhere
where there was a need," she says. "It's not like I only wanted to enlarge my
family. I really wanted to give a child a home."