Sandra Bullock on life pre-motherhood: “like you were dead compared to now”


I don’t want to give the wrong impression of what Sandra Bullock said, but I can’t fit the full quote in the title of the story. She said that “You feel like you were dead compared to the way you were emotionally before” after you become a mother, and added “at least I did.” It makes sense in context and didn’t reach Gisele Bundchen levels of righteousness by any means.

Bullock is doing the press circuit for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which co-stars Tom Hanks and is out in the US in limited release this Christmas. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer about a young boy who loses his father in the September 11 terrorist attacks. (The trailer is here and be forewarned that it made me cry.)

Bullock plays the mother to the boy who stars in the film, Thomas Horn. In a new interview with E!, (you can watch it here) Bullock is asked how being a mother has informed her acting. She said that it’s made her more vulnerable, essentially, and that she feels things more deeply now. You could tell that she didn’t mean to be sanctimonious and was just trying to explain her experience with it.

On how being a mom informs her performances now.
I’ve played moms before, I’ve always been very maternal, I’ve always loved being around kids.

I’m sure Louis informs me in ways I don’t even know how. Everything becomes richer or more important or more frightening or more challenging.

Everything becomes far more emotional, which I’m grateful for. You feel like you were dead compared to the way you were emotionally before. At least I did. I don’t know how, but I know it did profoundly affect me in the way I related toward [my on screen son] Thomas, as well. Thomas Horn, who played my son, I love him so much.

[From Video on E! Online]

As far as celebrity proclamations about motherhood go, this one was pretty minor. It reminds me of what Katherine Heigl said after she adopted her daughter, Naleigh, about how she felt like she was wearing her heart outside her body. Matt Damon said something similar recently too, about how his heart grew fives sizes when he had kids. It changes you. It’s when celebrities start dismissing their life pre-children and acting like it was meaningless that they get into trouble. I think in Bullock’s case she may have been thinking about the people she loved before Louis came into her life. After all, she was married to Jesse freaking James. That would make anyone feel dead inside.

These are photos of Sandra and Louis at a pirate-themed party on 10/9/11. Credit: Fame

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107 Responses to “Sandra Bullock on life pre-motherhood: “like you were dead compared to now””

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  1. Cindy says:

    I’ve never liked her, till she adopted. She always seemed like she needed a man to be complete. She seems like she found what she was missing in Louis! She looks like she absolutely loves him to bits! Good for her!

  2. bea says:

    strange, but he isn’t looking at her once in those fotos……….

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks says:

      Good observation, I didn’t notice this at first glance.

    • SLM says:

      Not really strange. I can never catch my daughter’s eye when we are out because there is too much going on to see. Plus imagine if you were a celeb kid and every pap is saying your name, trying to catch your eye.

      • rmnm says:

        Yep. My daughter was so interested in the world and ‘what was going on’–hell she could look at me ANY old time.. she wanted to look at new and interesting stuff when we were out and about–especially at a party.

        I don’t roll my eyes quite so much at what celebs say about their lives. Becoming a mom changed so, so much. I’d look at my mom and say “Wow. What did I DO before her [my daughter]?” I mean, my life wasn’t meaningless, but my the experience of having a daughter opened up whole new avenues that I really can’t explain or justify in a way that _won’t_ be construed as condescending to those without children. I don’t INTEND to be, but MY life was really a life (comparatively!!) half-lived before I became a mother. I don’t mean that it wasn’t a meaningful, happy life (it WAS!) but we’re all different, we all develop in different ways, reacting differently to various stimuli, and this was just something that made all the difference to me.

        I didn’t have half a heart before, I just have twice as much now.

  3. ShanKat says:

    That’s one delicious looking baby.

    Little Louis is more of a man as a toddler than her skeezy, oxycontin-addicted ex will ever be.

  4. Samigirl says:

    I totally get what she’s saying. When I finally got to hold Emerson, see that little face…it’s like something snapped…I felt reborn. Nothing I ever did before that mattered-I was a completely brand new person :) Being a parent, for all it’s challenges, is definitely a blessing for me :)

    I like Sandra’s perspective on it, and I really like how she doesn’t say that EVERY mother is like this. She personalized it and made it her own, instead of suggesting every woman feels (or should) feel this way.

  5. Esmom says:

    I hear what she’s saying but it still carries a whiff of condescension towards people without kids, whether she intended it or not.

    I think her explanation was OK up until the “like you were dead” emotionally. I think a different choice of words, like Damon’s or Heigel’s, would sit better.

    • Justaposter says:

      Delta I agree.

      I don’t think she is being condescending at all.

      it is a very fine line trying to explain life before kids and life with kids.

      You can remember fondly life without kids. But once you have kids, thats the life you live. Kinda hard to talk about the difference without sounding like an ass or “kids are the best thing ever!!” When you are a celeb and you try, you are going to piss off somebody.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Completely agree with Esmom.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve disliked Bullock ever since finding out how hard she tried to tear that other lady’s kid away from her. And now she has no relationship with the kid and the kid’s other alternative is the ex who was absent from his child’s life til she was 2, while the “bad” mom birthed her and cared for her all alone.

      I’m so used to this type celebrity proclamation re motherhood at this point it’s sorta like reading the ingredients to choc. chip cookies, however, I have to point out that when Goop says anything like this she gets reamed. I’m not a Goop fan but the inconsistency bugs. I never really heard such explanations about motherhood from the women I come from. It’s more a fact of life, with massive good and massive bad to go along with it. As a practical matter- if people became that much “deeper” individuals once they became parents the world would be a better place than it is. It isn’t. But yay for the women who and are no longer pointless and/or dead inside.

      • Toot says:

        Yeah, I feel bad for Sunny since Sandra felt emotionally dead around her.

      • Iggles says:

        I agree with you guys! I posted about this downthread. The moment I read her quote it rubbed me the wrong way. I thought, “Well, what about Sunny?”

      • jc126 says:

        Don’t forget Halle Berry. Wasn’t she supposedly like a mother to Eric Benet’s daughter when they were married, and then was never seen in her company again after the divorce?
        Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea to keep contact with an ex-spouse/step-parent. But, and flame away on this, I also think that – based on what I’ve seen IRL – that most stepparents don’t really regard stepkids as being the same as their own kids, if they have any. They might think they do, until they have their own kid, or they might feel that way because they’re not really treated as an actual parent. If the bio-parent is deceased or absent entirely, the mutual love might be the same. But not in the standard remarriage after divorce situation.
        That’s just been my observation, not a hard and fast rule.

      • annie says:

        Very well said Jennifer. I totally agree

      • Karen says:

        Unless the court has specifically given rights to a step-parent, they are essentially at the mercy of the birth parents regarding whether or not they can still play a role in a child’s life. I think some of you are forgetting that until Jesse James was revealed to be Tiger Woods 2.0, his ex-wife was bitching about Sandra claiming she was trying to poison Sunny against her. Then once Jesse’s true colours were shown, suddenly Janine wanted Sandra to remain in the girl’s life. Sandra couldn’t win!! Then you all saw how Jesse was actng following the divorce. Maybe he decided not to allow Sandra access because that’s his right as the custodial birth parent.

      • Ida says:

        Having children is a fact of life. Wise words Jennifer, I couldn’t have put it better.

        Re: Bullock, I loathe this kind of sentimental nonsense about having children. Grrr!!!

      • leetruth says:

        Love Sandra Bullock. Trying to misconstrue her words is just plain pathetic. All mothers know that life is never the same once you have a child. As for Sunny, Sandra cannot start fighting over her when her parents will use it to hurt her over access.

  6. Delta Juliet says:

    I know exactly what she’s saying. I’m sure not EVERY woman feels that way about being a mother (or not being a mother), but I certainly do.

  7. texasmom says:

    Having children is an experience like no other, but it doesn’t mean that everyone in the world who doesn’t have kids is dead inside!

    But having a baby is also a form of temporary insanity, if you ask me, so I tend to discount the amazing life realizations that people blurt out before their kids turn three.

  8. Iggles says:

    Wasn’t she already a mother to Sunny??

    She and Jesse seemed to claim as much when they fought the girl’s birth mother in court for custody…

    • DetRiotGirl says:

      Interesting. I’d sort of forgotten about that.

      • Monique says:

        I don’t understand the outrage.

        Nowhere does she specify she only feels this way now that Louis is in her life, if you read carefully (and keep in mind that the response is likely collated from a much longer explanation).

        She says kids do this to you, and that these days, Louis probably informs her in ways she couldn’t imagine pre-kids.

        Another thought – she’d never had a helpless baby who needed her more than anything in the world before. New experience, likely triggered new emotions, even if she did help raise children before.

        I don’t think it’s fair to attack her based on this quote – candid photos of her with Jesse’s kids when they were still together, and her many glowing descriptions of life with those kids… She clearly loved them to bits.

        One perhaps unfortunately phrased line in an interview doesn’t negate that, surely?

        Why don’t we celebrate the fact that she’s a woman who’s crazy about her son, and making the most of her life now?

      • LeeLoo says:

        I bet she wishes she could still be apart of those kids’ lives. However, she had to do what was healthy for her in that situation and being that in the end she is not Sunny’s biological mother and her biological mother is fighting for her I think she was wise to step away from that situation. Besides, I can see Jesse being a manipulative POS and using his kids to force himself into Sandra’s life and that is even less healthy. I can’t speak for Sandy but I am betting she had good reason to remove herself from her life. Considering Jesse’s comments and behavior I’m sure she felt it necessary to do so.

  9. Toot says:

    Wasn’t she a step mother to JJ kids, and supposedly close at the time to the youngest? I’m not feeling this new quote from Sandra. I guess she felt dead around them and was faking it.

  10. Julie says:

    Well being a mom, I can certainly say there is a definite different component in my emotional life, and in that I’ve never loved some completely devoted like this. But, I won’t discount my life beforehand, and honestly, there are parts I miss. FREEDOM, for one :)

  11. L says:

    On another note-that book made me bawl my eyes out so I don’t know if I can take that movie

  12. Susan says:

    I personally am so tired of these hollywood types acting like there is no life until you have children. I personally have friends with no children who live very emotional and fulfilled lives. Really you were “emotionally dead” before? No wonder Jesse fooled around. It is like these famous people cannot grow up before they have children. News flash many people in their 20′s without kids donate their time and engery to good causes, are emotionally doing well, go to university and say that these were some of the best years of their life. I really feel sorry for these whiners who cannot seem to live life without a child.

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks says:

      Bravo, great post :) :) :)

    • Justaposter says:

      Susan I just don’t think a person can compare life with kids vs life without kids. It’s like talking about apples and oranges.

      One isn’t better than the other. Its just different.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      EXACTLY. It wasn’t necessarily what she said, it was the way she said it. Hey, listen-I’m not easily offended (and truthfully, I’m NOT offended by her statement) but she could have used different wording-that’s all. The implication that someone is dead inside if they don’t have children (emphasis on IMPLICATION, I know she didn’t literally say that) is kind of hurtful, don’t you think? I don’t mind Bullock, not a raging fan of her acting but she seems like a decent lady, she just needs to chose her words more carefully when talking about a pretty sensitive topic.

  13. DetRiotGirl says:

    I have a few thoughts on these pictures.

    1. How cute is that kid? I don’t usually gush about children, but this one and the Kerr-Bloom kid are like a blow torch to my icy, childless heart. So adorable!

    2. I think Sandra looks hot in these pictures, but what’s up with her nose? It got thinner, right? Am I imagining that? Does anyone else see it?

    3. I don’t care about the mommy quote. Sandra feels the way she feels, and good for her! I feel just fine without kids, and I think that’s great too. Everybody’s different.

    For those of you out there that really want and love kids, I wish you well because all children deserve loving and devoted parents. You are the most important person in someone’s life, and I thank you for taking that role seriously.

    For those of us that don’t want kids; the world is vastly over populated. We’re doing everyone a favor by keeping the number of births each year in check. The world’s supply of natural resources will thank us for that eventually too.

    In short, kudos to everyone!

  14. Zigggy says:

    She looks so good in those pics, her style is great.

  15. Maya says:

    What an adorable little boy! His pirate costume is awesome.

  16. Lauren says:

    I love Sandra, she managed all the humiliation of JJ with class and dignity.

  17. RobN says:

    I have to wonder why all my friends with kids spend all of their time complaining about parenthood if it’s supposed to make you glow all over like the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes.

    • Justaposter says:

      Well RobN, because we want to share the luuuuvvvv LOL!

      Here is my take on parenthood.

      As hard as you think it will be, you wish it actually was that easy.

      It is the most frustrating thing you will ever do, but at the same time, the most inspiring.

      The moment you think you will actually loose your everloving mind, your heart bursts with love.

      You will become Mother Tigress, and easily become soft and squishy like a marshmellow.

      And if done correctly, you will never see the end result, because your child will live to become an old adult.

      Parenthood ain’t for sissies and it isn’t for everybody.

      *these are MY thoughts on parenthood, and not to be projected onto others*

  18. Sara says:

    Wonder why she never decided to have kids of her own if she loves kids that much. There was awhile she wasn’t working so she would have had plenty of time.

  19. spinner says:

    Sandra has always been highly suspect in my book. What you see is not what you get. Fraud.

  20. ??? says:

    Oh please. She only adopted a black baby because it’s “fashionable” nowadays. I’m sick of her Adam’s apple. She’s ugly, has had just as much surgery as any other celeb, and for all we know she could be a real bitch in real life. I’m sick of everyone feeling sorry for her.

    • Jayna says:

      Idiot. They put on the form no preference as far as race. She didn’t choose a black baby. It could have been white, Hispanic, Asian, black. Two years into the adoption process they got a call they had s baby for her. He happened to be black.

    • GiGi says:

      I have a Black baby. No one has a baby of any color because it’s “fashionable”. You have a baby to grow your family, to add to the love in your family and because you enjoy raising children.

      And we did have to specify race when adopting. The wait for a White child is 3+ years – our daughter was in our home in 3 months.

    • LeeLoo says:

      If she were to specify race, she would still be waiting. Getting a healthy caucasian baby can take up to 5 years. Many times, it is also the caucasian babies that go up for adoption that wind up with the most health problems, most that will not show up until AFTER adoption.

      Ok, the anthropologist in me really needs to say this: Race as a biological factor does not exist, race is a socially constructed concept. Louis is a baby who is adorable, looks well adjusted and happy. That is all that matters.

  21. bagladey says:

    Yeah, really, what about Sunny?

  22. maggie grace says:

    That trailer? Major goosebumps, and finally, yes tears.

    I like Sandy. She’s always been big on the plastic surgery. It’s been sort of subtle, except for more recently. She’s got the gd best set of legs in Hollywood, IMO.

  23. Camille says:

    Totally off topic, but ooooh I see a huge vein on her arm! Where’s the outrage about that??

    lol

  24. John says:

    My aunt must feel immortal. Shes 55 with no kids. Howcome most people hate their moms and why do some people split on their kids, if there’re so wonderful? She said one of those “entitled parents” comments without realizing that most kids, parents hate each other and most families are beyond broken across every socio-economic line. Moms should learn to be quiet like dads and be more considerate of people without kids(who had lives where it just didnt happen, not cus they didnt want to).
    Would you have a baby to save a beyond damaged marriage? Or have one just to have one when its clear your marriage is over? Would you have a few kids and leave them behind? Its sickening how many foster kids there are. And comments like hers. We have a society that actually encourages women to just breed and stay poor. Like motherhood is that great. Great for her she has money.

  25. Stacy says:

    She obviously enjoys being a mother. That is a wonderful thing for her child.

  26. Turtle Dove says:

    “At least I did.”

    That’s the line that saves her. If she hadn’t said that then she’d sound all kinds of smug, but Sandy related it to herself, so she redeems in my book.

    I forgot about Sunny too. I’m sure that Sandra cared deeply for her and wanted to protect her, but once the relationship with Jesse imploded she had no rights being a non-bio to Sunny.

  27. Raz says:

    Yeah “dead inside” was definitely referencing Jesse… Mysterious that she said this just days after he called her ” some Hollywood actress”

    Two can play the game :)

    Jesse is a piece of dog poo that’s already been stood in, on the sidewalk

  28. Violet says:

    Jesse’s previous wife was pregnant when he and Sandra first hooked up, so she knew his daughter Sunny from day one and always claimed to feel like the child was hers.

    I get that she wants to express the depth of her love for Louis, but making statements claiming she felt like she was “dead” before becoming his mother totally dismisses her feelings for Sunny — I guess she literally threw the baby out with the bath water when she got divorced — and implies that she spent the first 45 years of her life living in an emotional vacuum, which isn’t just a burn against Jesse but all the people in her life, ever.

  29. Carrie says:

    I love Sandra Bullock. I am sorry for her mistake with that Jesse creepy crawley.But I have never seen Louis smile, laugh or look at her.Is he ok?How could that be?

    • Vesper says:

      I also noticed that Sandra doesn’t smile much in most pics with Louis. She doesn’t come across as a happy mom.

      I think her statement is very condescending and not a very healty attitude. Obviously motherhood is going to bring out the best in most people, and it does become a priority to care for ur children, but to compare being childless with being dead is ridiculous and insensitive. I hope when Sunny is all grown up that she doesn’t come across this article.

  30. Madrid says:

    I like very much SB, she can do no wrong in my eyes, and baby Louis — I dont know why because Im the kind of person who feels this maternal touch only by dogs or cats– is just so cute and vulnerable.
    I think she has the right to express what she feels about moterhood, because she longed for a really long time. JJ kids, my guess is that deep in her heart she knew it wouldnt work with him, she loved them but if they have biological fathers she has no rights.

  31. Jayna says:

    Being a new mom is a feeling of pure and innocent love. All the more profound for her because she doesn’t have a mate she loves to share this with. He is her little miracle. Let her express it how she wants.

  32. Ann says:

    Just once I’d like someone to say: Having a kid was the biggest mistake of my life. I’m not enjoying it ONE bit.

    • the original bellaluna says:

      Darling, anyone who has ever decided to have an “unplanned” child can say that. I offer up “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” as examples. (Yes, sometimes it sucks. Yes, it is ALWAYS hard.)

      But for some of us, having said child opens up a whole new world and changes our perspective.

      If it didn’t for you, I am so sorry. Do you have a strong support network?

    • Violet says:

      A French woman has written a book about just that. She and her partner were in their 30s when they had kids — in other words, these weren’t unplanned teen pregnancies — and she really regrets becoming a parent.

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/i-really-regret-it-i-really-regret-having-children/article784948/

      Unfortunately, I’m sure she’s not the only one who feels this way. Having kids is a huge commitment, and sometimes the reality of it is simply overwhelming for some people.

      • Micki says:

        I’ve just finished the article.

        “I just say that when you are a woman, the fact of having children doesn’t provide the meaning of your existence,” she says. “So you can have a meaningful existence not having children. And of course you can have a meaningful existence having children.”

        And a short comment: Very big, very important job. Very rewarding, but not for the faint-hearted

        I can’t agree more.I know mothers that had children for the wrong reasons.I can’t stomach some of their stories.

    • k says:

      secretconfessions.com – “hate-being-a-mom” thread. Thousands of posts saying just that.

    • Jayna says:

      I have a neighbor who was a widow at 28, struggling to run her husband’s business and tAke care if her two children. Who son now 19 still lives at home and has emotional problems, rage, suicidal ideation. She’s only 38 now but she is stressed all the time both financially and emotionally and is lonely. I think her son is manic depressive truthfully.

  33. the original bellaluna says:

    I’ll say the same thing I said on the Jen Garner post: You lose the SELFISH PART of yourself.

    Selfishness doesn’t come into play when you’re a mother. It just doesn’t.

    You don’t get to sleep when you want; bathe/shower when you want; eat when & what you want.

    It just IS. (Those who choose not to have children, good on you. Those who cannot have children, my deepest sympathies. See: no judgement here from me.)

  34. Micki says:

    I’m sorry but I felt very much alive before my 2 kids were born. I had my job, my friends, my coleagues, places to see, things to do, hobbies ets, ets…
    Now being at home and full time mom something died in me actually.I’m not a person to gush about every little thing my children achieve or compare diaper prices or hunt some other bargains or whatever else that becomes the new focus in life.We have good days and we have bad days and days when I wish I was still single.

    I love my children and both are wanted and planned for but really give me a break with “mild” or “heavy” extatic motherhood reports. Does it mean whatever I did “before” is meaningless and worthless? BS

  35. ManicPixieDreamGirl says:

    So, I’m going to live an empty and meaningless existence because I don’t want to have babies? Bitch please. I have friends who would do anything to go back to the life they had before they became mothers. She probably has like 3 nannies, a chef, and a small army of pa’s, so I’m guessing her life is cake compared to that of most single mothers. I’m sorry, but I hate statements like this.

  36. Victoria says:

    Having kids drains the life out of you. I have two and I was not happy about being pregnant the first time around cause I had taken all the precautions. And that was with a husband. I never wanted children, but it wasn’t until I had E-M about three months into the gig that I understood why it was important for me to have at least two. And I am glad that I made the decision.

    But kids are hard work and I think that if it was legal to get your shit snipped at twenty, I would have done it. As much as I love my kids, and now that my husband has passed, I feel overwhelmed like, I never thought I’d have to to do it alone. I miss being selfish and having disposable income. And I drive myself crazy thinking about all the horrible things that could happen to them when they aren’t with me that I rarely make a move without them. So I have a social life that is as pathetic as Kim K,’s farce of a marriage.Every moment is spent deciding how can I make them normal, decent, law abiding citizens? Private school or public. Am I setting a good example for them? Organic foods, or processed. It’s like since have them if they become failures it will be my failure so how much of this and how little of that?

    Your worth is not determined by whether or not you have children unless you want it to be. wanting to be childless is admirable and at least it shows you know what you don’t want. So many people have kids and don’t want them and then f–k them up. That ain’t right.

  37. LeeLoo says:

    If you think about Sandra’s life before she got Louis she probably was having a lot of issues with Jesse James at the time and was probably feeling very dead inside. I can see having Louis open her heart up and maybe gave her the courage to end her relationship. So I think that she said a very accurate statement about herself.

    Besides, she wasn’t trying to make any sort of blanket statement and having been adopted myself, I think she did a wonderful thing for that little boy and gave him a promising life and future.

  38. Snowflake says:

    Amazing how people can make something bad out of something nice. She’s saying Louis makes her feel so alive, so much so that it was like she was dead inside before, the difference is so much. she is not saying there is something wrong with having or not having kids! Geez!

  39. nothingbutflowers says:

    I wonder where that child’s real mother is and about the back story on the adoption.

  40. sandy says:

    i like Sandra, she could have easily used her situation like most to get more publicity, but she is a class act who knows who she is, that baby Louis is so adorable.

  41. Pirouette says:

    Scary for her to realize her previous lack of emotional intelligence. I guess we all develop differently.

  42. Meanchick says:

    I agree with her completely. I don’t remember my life before I had my daughter. I wasn’t dead inside, but perhaps incomplete. From the moment that little bundle of cuteness came into my world, my life has been so much better and fulfilling.

  43. Cher says:

    That boy Louis is mighty handsome.

  44. Medusa says:

    Everything would be so much simpler if people just used “I” instead of “you”.

    “You feel like this, you feel like that.”

    Why can’t you just say “I feel like this, I feel like that.”

    Then you don’t need the retroactively convenient “OH just so you know I’m just talking about me, not everyone!”

  45. Adri says:

    Ever since I first saw a picture of Louis I thought he was so adorable. He still is. Seriously he has one of the cutest little faces.