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Tori Spelling Shares 17 Secrets About Life With Kids

  • John Russo

    As I turn onto Tori Spelling's street in a nice-but-nothing-crazy-extravagant suburb of Los Angeles, I wonder if I'm in the right place. The tree-lined road seems so, well, normal. No over-the-top mansions or armed guards at the gate. Just a nice terra-cotta home with her signature Old Hollywood glamour decor (blue plush-velvet ottoman, 1940s-style sofa, mirrored cabinets, and black-and-white family pictures in just about every room). Her husband, actor Dean McDermott, opens the door in a T-shirt and shorts, a half-smeared bagel for their son, Liam, in hand. He's gorgeous, I can't lie. Even better looking in person than on TV. But he's easily overshadowed by their 3-year-old daughter, Stella, who walks right up to me with her arms stretched high, asking me to pick her up. She's breathtakingly sweet and half-dressed in the Shirley Temple costume we've custom-made for her big Halloween photo shoot.

    I spend the next hour in the kids' playroom, talking about Hello Kitty (Stella has at least three versions of her, as far as I can see). Liam, 4, is the ringleader. He's keeping us on point as to topics of conversation. First up, the family's pet goats. They're outside but keep rubbing their noses on the French doors that lead from the playroom to the backyard, where a trampoline becomes too tempting to pass up in another hour or so.

  • John Russo

    When I finally meet Tori, she's in her all-white kitchen sitting in a makeup chair (we're turning her into Jean Harlow in honor of Halloween, “my fave holiday!”). “I can't believe the kids are letting you dress them,” she says. “They never let anybody dress them.” Pleasant chitchat ensues, and I can easily see why this girl has 164,768 Facebook friends, 448,892 Twitter followers, and millions of fans who follow her every move on Oxygen's Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, the most popular of her myriad TV shows. She's also a three-time New York Times bestselling author, with a new book on party planning, CelebraTORI, debuting this spring, and a jewelry line on HSN that sells faster than scary-face pancakes on Halloween at IHOP. There's even a David and Goliath—type mantra named after one of her most memorable TV characters (“Donna Martin graduates!”).

    Her lineage is strong—she was sort of born with a silver spoon in her mouth, in case you hadn't heard—but these days, she's more likely to be fascinated with teething rings (she likes those shaped like Sophie the Giraffe). In short, people feel they know her. Still, we managed to uncover 17 “Tori-isms” that few have ever heard about…

  • John Russo

    1. “My biggest fear as a mother is… everything!”

    I'm scared of screwing up my kids. You want your kids to be the best kids they can be, and you try to give them all the support, love, education, and information they need, so they're prepared when they go out into the world. I thought that once we were out of the baby stage, parenting would be a breeze. But it's an even bigger challenge now that Liam and Stella are older. They understand things. You just feel at every turn like, whoa, am I making the right decisions, setting the right boundaries?

  • John Russo

    2. “I miss changing poopy diapers!”

    I never thought I would, but I do. That's when you know you're ready for more children. It's kind of a sad day for me when we're out of diapers. With each milestone, I'm so proud, but it's another indication that my kids are growing up. The other day, a woman was looking so longingly at Stella. Her kid was 13 or 14, trying on big clothes. I had to walk away because I got all teary-eyed. I'm getting teary-eyed telling you this now. I'm not the best diaper-changer in the house, though. Dean is.

  • John Russo

    3. “I buy my own groceries.”

    When I'm at the store, people will come over and say to me, “You do your own marketing?” And when I'm on Twitter and Facebook, I see comments that say, “Oh my gosh, you really do take care of your kids!” But who else would take care of my kids? It's funny, the perception people have of people who are in Hollywood. I don't have any friends in Tinseltown, so I don't know what it's like with other families. As for ours, of course I have people who help us out, but the chores we do on our own are the things that kind of ground us.

  • John Russo

    4. “Dean and I aren't getting enough alone time.”

    It's something that we're working on. A father's instinct is for alone time. A mother's instinct is to just take care of the kids. We really try to make date nights, even if it's just watching a movie after the kids go to bed.

  • John Russo

    5. “Guilt? Got it!”

    There are days when I struggle with wanting to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom, and feeling guilty about that because I work. There's this one mom at school who'll be like, “Oh, we're having this playdate or whatever, can you come?” Recently, when I said I couldn't, she said, “Oh, you never go to anything.” That hit me really hard.

  • John Russo

    6. “My rock-star mom moment would probably come as a big surprise to a lot of people.”

    It was the first time I took both kids out by myself. Dean is such a hands-on dad that we do everything together. I'd never had to worry about holding two hands before then, or taking both kids out of their car seats on my own. Dean was like, “Are you sure you're going to be okay with both of them?” But I was excited—I felt like a kid getting my first apartment. Liam and Stella and I had the best time grocery shopping and at the flower store. I remember it was overwhelming, but I was so proud. I'm well aware that every mom, everywhere, does this, but it was a big moment.

  • John Russo

    7. “You won't see me wearing high heels every day, like a lot of celebrity moms do.”

    All my beautiful heels are at home—they might as well be an art collection. I see star moms in magazines wearing heels, and I envy them, but I just can't do that!

  • John Russo

    8. “I have a good relationship with my stepson, Jack.”

    He's almost 13 now. Everyone has horror stories when you first become a stepmother. They'll tell you to be careful of what you say and to never trash the other parent—gosh, I would never! The most important thing I learned was to make sure Jack knew I was never going to try to take his mom's place or be his mother. I definitely wanted to be a role model and a parent, though, and to set boundaries. It really does take a village.

  • John Russo

    9. “I'm learning to be less of a softy with my kids.”

    When I had downtime, I didn't want to say no to them and have them be upset, so I'd give them everything they wanted. Dean's the rock and the disciplinarian—we had to find that balance together. He helped me to set rules and guidelines.

  • John Russo

    10. “I have a whole new appreciation for my own mom these days.”

    I look back and remember all the things she and my dad had to go through as parents. You just don't value the challenges of dealing with kids on a daily basis until you have small children yourself! And my mom is a really great grandmother, too—she's super present in the kids' lives. We'll be out and one of my kids will have a tantrum, and she'll say to me, “Oh my gosh, when you were that age, you used to have tantrums also!” Then she'll tell me a funny story. It bonds you on a whole different level.

  • John Russo

    11. “I don't spend time worrying what my kids will see or read about me.”

    I write books where I tell a lot about our lives, and as I write, I do think, “Will they be okay knowing this one day?” I want to be really open with them, and I want them to be open with me.

  • John Russo

    12. “There's something I did when I was young that I hope my kids won't do.”

    I held everything in emotionally. I was scared to cry, or if people asked me what was wrong, I'd say “nothing.” Stella holds things in a little already. At some point during my pregnancy, it really hit her that I'm having another baby. She turned around and was happy and excited. I said, “Do you think we'll have a baby Liam or a baby Stella?” She said, “But I'm already Stella!” I said, “Of course. I mean, do you think we'll have another girl?” She said, “A girl…?” Then she sat down and got really sad. I said, “What's wrong? Are you okay?” And just as quick as that, she goes, “Oh, nothing. I'm sick.” I said, “You're sick?” Then she said, “I don't like my sock. I need my sock off.” I was like OMG, she's changing the subject! She's 3 years old.

  • John Russo

    13. “I wasn't truly comfortable with myself until I was about 30.”

    Looking back, I feel like I missed out on some really great opportunities in my 20s because I didn't feel good about myself. I was always obsessed with what guy liked me. I spent so much time and energy wondering if I wasn't worthy, and trying to find people to validate me, instead of validating myself. When I think of what my greatest wish for my kids is, it's for them to know who they are, and be proud and confident, before 30. I want Stella in her 20s to be thinking about hanging out with her friends and traveling the world! I'm giving my kids the best tools I can, so they have the attitude that “If I find love, great; if not, it'll happen [eventually].”

  • John Russo

    14. “I'm even more driven now than before I became a mother.”

    I'm definitely a driven person—I get it from my dad. Motherhood takes it to a whole different level, though: I want things because I want my children to have them. I want them to work and work hard, but I also want to provide for them as much as I can, and to be able to show them great things and take them great places.

  • John Russo

    15. “I don't have many mommy role models…and I'm glad.”

    The best advice someone ever gave me was “Don't listen to anyone else about how to be a mom.” It's gotten me through many situations. I used to be obsessed with what other moms would do, but listening to your maternal instinct is always the right decision.

  • John Russo

    16. “I knit—but so does Dean!”

    When I was pregnant with Liam, I was knitting a baby blanket, and when we went to get yarn, Dean said, “I think I'd like to try that!” The ladies at the little knitting shop said, “We can teach you. It's like tying sailor knots, that's what we always say to the men.” Dean's been knitting ever since. Sometimes we'll be in bed, knitting together, and I'll think, look at us!

  • John Russo

    17. “We have four dogs, two chickens, one guinea pig, one real pig, and one bearded dragon.”

    Enough said.

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