Charlize Theron and her mother, Gerda Maritz, tackle toddler tantrums and bedtime battles together.
“I knew that I would have to have my mom help me if I was going to do this as a single parent,” the 42-year-old reveals in Elle’s May cover story. “To not acknowledge her in coparenting my children would be a lie . . . I would feel pretty alone if I didn’t have a partner in crime in all of this.”
Theron adopted her son Jackson, 6, in 2012, and daughter August, 2, in 2015. The Gringo actress admits she felt unnecessary pressure when she first brought Jackson home. “In the beginning, I wanted to do it all and didn’t reach out for as much help as I actually needed. I felt, ‘If I don’t do all of this, then maybe I am a bad parent,’” she revealed. With August, she was easier on herself. “The second time, I realized I am happier and my kids are happier if I ask for more help,” said the Oscar winner. “People think I have a staff of 40, but I don’t.”
Theron revealed her “village” includes one nanny, Maritz who lives just up the street, plus a handful of friends and family. “I’ve learned to balance things out more. I look at my fuel gauge and think, ‘Is it full or is it empty?’” she shared. “Then it’s up to me to decide how to fill that tank back up or just remain empty. But what can you do on an empty tank?”
The South Africa-native lets mom-shaming comments roll off her back. “Both of my kids grew up on formula and I remember a mom saying to me, ‘You should really buy breast milk.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ that’s a line you just don’t cross,’” Theron said. “The good thing about me is, I’ve never given a s—t about what people think. That’s the only quality I have that probably helped me in being a mother.”
Having a family isn’t something Theron considered until later in her life. “A child in my twenties was the iciest idea I could think of,” she admitted. During that period she was in a relationship with Irish actor Stuart Townsend. “He was an adventurer, and I was an adventurer. We would pack backpacks, go to a country for five weeks, climb mountains, stay in people’s homes,” she recalled. “I partied. I did it all. We didn’t have a care in the world.”
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When Theron and Townsend, 45, split in 2010 after nine years together, she sudden felt a maternal urge. “I had a strong need to be a mom. It was all-consuming,” she told the magazine. “I didn’t need to travel or go out constantly or drink anymore.”
The Monster actress was 36 when she adopted Jackson. “When I got to my thirties, I was so ready. But there’s a moment where you’re like, ‘Oh God, I hope once I have kids, I’m still going to want to be a parent this much.”
Some days at the Theron household are harder than others. “I make mistakes. Going through the tantrum stages when they’re such little a—holes. And they choose the worst moments. It’s a lot for one person,” she confessed. “But after six years of having my two nuggets, there’s not a day when I wish I hadn’t done this.”
Chelsea Handler interviewed Theron for Elle’s May issue that hits stands on April 24.