13 Powerful Quotes About Motherhood From Shonda Rhimes

The iconic showrunner has three daughters.
"Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes has three daughters.
Amanda Edwards via Getty Images
"Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes has three daughters.

Shonda Rhimes is no stranger to the joys and challenges of parenthood.

The award-winning writer and producer has three daughters ― Harper, Emerson and Beckett. Over the years, she’s opened up about motherhood in interviews, personal essays and her best-selling book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person.

In honor of her birthday, we’ve rounded up 13 powerful quotes about motherhood from the creative mind behind Shondaland.

On The ‘Job’ Of Motherhood

“Being a mother is not a job. Stop throwing things at me. I’m sorry but it is not. I find it offensive to motherhood to call being a mother a job. Being a mother isn’t a job. It’s who someone is. It’s who I am. You can quit a job. I can’t quit being a mother. I’m a mother forever. Mothers are never off the clock, mothers are never on vacation. Being a mother redefines us, reinvents us, destroys and rebuilds us. Being a mother brings us face-to-face with ourselves as children, with our mothers as human beings, with our darkest fears of who we really are. Being a mother requires us to get it together or risk messing up another person forever. Being a mother yanks our hearts out of our bodies and attaches them to our tiny humans and sends them out into the world, forever hostages.”

On The Balancing Act

“There is no such thing as balance. ... That is motherhood. If you are a working mother you are often not there as much as you’d like to be. I said this once somewhere, that if I’m standing on set watching some amazing thing being shot, then I am missing my daughter’s science fair. Or if I’m at my daughter’s dance recital, then I miss Sandra Oh’s very last day, and very last scene being shot on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ That’s what happens. Those are the trade-offs. You have to make a decision that you’re going to miss one thing and be good at another. I’ve always said if I’m winning at one thing, I’m failing at another. And a lot of people say, ‘failure?’ And I say, ‘yes!’ I like to call it failure because it makes me feel better.”

On Having Help

“Powerful famous women don’t say out loud that they have help at home, that they have nannies, housekeepers, chefs, assistants, stylists ― whatever it is they have to keep their worlds spinning because they are ashamed. Or maybe a more precise way to say it is that these women have been shamed.”

On Missteps

“I don’t know about you, but the mistakes and missteps I have made since becoming a mother ... before kids, my confidence could not be dented. Now it’s shattered on a daily basis. I don’t know what I am doing. There is no manual. There’s no checklist. There was no one to give lessons.”

On Her Goals As A Parent

I am devoted to knowing my children, to reading books with them, to hearing stories they tell me and to the conversations we have. To making them citizens of the world. To raising strong feminist beings who love and believe in themselves. That is hard enough for me without delivering home-baked goods to school on a Friday. I’m never going to braid anyone’s pigtails perfectly. No one’s clothes are ever going to be ironed. Clean, yes. Ironed? Not by me. We will never make special crafts for every holiday and then take photos of them to put on Pinterest and Facebook. Ever. Never ever.”

On Being A Happy Working Mom

“Part of what’s important about motherhood is that you be happy. Your kids need to see a happy, fulfilled mother. The worst thing you can do is provide your children with an unhappy, put-upon, bitter self. If I’m pursuing my goals, my kids are seeing me at my best. I am filled up, I am happy, I am not feeling empty, depleted, and therefore resentful about the fact that I’m missing out. As big of a blessing as they are, I don’t want them to feel like I’ve sacrificed, I don’t want them to feel that burden. I always remember that a happy working woman is a happy mother.”

On The ‘Badge Of Honor’ Of Exhaustion

“I am on Twitter, checking in on the world, and I see a tweet from some motherhood site. It says: ‘Sleeplessness is a badge of honor for moms.’ What? A badge of honor? Right then and there, my hair catches on fire. My hair just lights up in flames of instant rage. The rage may be especially bad because I still have some PTSD from my oldest child’s infant days. My perfect beautiful miracle baby? Never slept. EVER. Never. Twelve years later the memories of those nights, of that sleep deprivation, still make me rock back and forth a little bit. You want to torture someone? Hand them an adorable baby they love who doesn’t sleep. Badge of honor? Necessary evil, yes. Pain in the ass, yes. Badge of honor? Are you freaking kidding me? Who believes that crap? Who is drinking THAT crazy Kool-Aid?”

On The Mommy Wars

“I will always be resentful of mom activities that take place on a Tuesday at 11 a.m. As if the mothers with jobs are not valued or welcome. And I am always going to yell ‘What the fuck!’ at the PTA meeting if you tell me the brownies need to be homemade. I am already in the middle of a Great Mommy War and it is against my worst enemy ― me. I don’t need another war against you. I’m betting you don’t need one either. ... Maybe that Perfect PTA Mom didn’t even realize that homemade brownies could be a hardship. Maybe instead of yelling obscenities at the mention of homemade brownies, it would be better to stand up and gently point out that not everyone has the time or the bandwidth to make brownies. And if you are met with condescension, then yell the obscenities.”

On The Joy Of Children

“I am not a naturally optimistic person. I’m too in my own head to be a constant source of cheer. I have to work at happy. Dark and twisty is where my brain likes to settle. So I can use some reminders of what is good and optimistic and glass-half-full about this world. And nothing does that for me like the faces and souls of my tiny humans.”

On Greeting Cards For Moms

“All the greeting cards are about sacrifice. ‘Mother, you gave up so much for me. You worked so hard for me. You sacrificed so much. You were so wonderful and giving and selfless.’ Where is the greeting card that says, ‘Mother, you taught me how to be a powerful woman,’ ‘Mother, you taught me how to earn a living,’ ‘Mother, you taught me how to speak up for myself and not back down?’ Those are the greeting cards that should be out there. Those are the qualities that we would want for our daughters to have. I don’t want my daughters to grow up and think, ‘I should shrink and be in the background. I should be selfless. I should be sacrificing. I should be silent.’ That’s not what I think a mother is.”

On Parenting Tweens

“It’s hard to nail down a tween ― if you have one, you know what I mean. I vividly remember being 12 years old. I sometimes wonder how my parents allowed me to survive. At that age, the existence of one’s parents is nothing more than an embarrassment. Clearly a 12-year-old is never going to say ‘Wanna play?’ But with Harper, I’ve learned to look for the words and signs that mean the same thing. If she wanders into my room in the evening and lies down on any piece of my furniture, I put down what I’m working on and give her my full attention. Sometimes that pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t. But what I’ve come to understand is that letting her know my full attention is available is more important than anything else.”

On Sex Positivity

“I have three daughters, and I find it fascinating that you can shoot someone in the face on network television, show the whole thing, watch their brains fly out of the back of their head, and no one blinks. But people are shocked when you show anybody having sex. I hope my daughters grow up to have amazing sex. I really do. I do not hope they grow up to shoot someone in the face. You know what I mean? I feel like there are ways to represent women owning their sexuality and having a strong point of view about it and it not being this taboo thing that’s hidden in some closet somewhere.”

On Setting An Example

“I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland. There is a land and it is named after their mother. In their world, mothers run companies. In their world, mothers own Thursday nights. In their world, mothers work. And I am a better mother for it. The woman I am because I get to run Shondaland, because I get to write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person ― and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.”

Before You Go


Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds