'Parenthood' Star Monica Potter Shares Her Most Magical Moments as Mom -- on TV & Off

Monica Potter

June Cleaver. Carol Brady. Marge Simpson. The list of TV moms we all wish were our own is long and varied. And since Parenthood debuted on NBC, it's grown to include Kristina Braverman, mother of three, breast cancer survivor, and the type of candidate for city mayor who will stop everything during a town hall meeting to pass her phone number to a mom in crisis. Kristina Braverman is the mom we want and the mom we want to be, and without actress Monica Potter, there is no Kristina Braverman.

Like her character, Monica is a mother of three. And like her character, the soft-spoken actress shines on the homefront -- she even has a growing line of home products -- in a way that lifts other moms up rather than making us feel inadequate.

Parenthood fans who are bemoaning NBC's decision to give us just one more season, and a shortened one at that, have heart: Kristina Braverman is alive and well and living in California. 



When The Stir spoke with the actress about the final season of the cult hit show and being a busy mom, she called from her personal phone line, not blocking the number. I thought it was an accident until late in the call when she jokingly said, "You have my number."

Then there was the back and forth that happens when you talk to Monica Potter. You interview her. She interviews you right back.

Where are you from? How old are your kids? What's her name?

When I confessed that one of my daughter's favorite songs is "Mrs. Potter," the Counting Crows song written by Adam Duritz about the actress before -- in her words -- they "dated for a minute," she laughed and asked me to videotape her singing it and send it her way.

Did she mean it? She sure made it sound like it.

It sure seemed like the woman who stepped off the podium during a mayoral town hall in Berkeley could be this woman on the other end of the phone line, calling for moms to stop stressing themselves out over being the perfect mom.

So what does Kristina, er, Monica think will happen in the last episode of Parenthood? Why has she suddenly become a Facebook maven, churning out Tuesday tips for busy moms and sharing her own throwback photos on Thursdays, in between cool behind-the-scenes looks at what goes on on set of everyone's favorite show about parenting? Some thoughts from Mrs. Potter:

On being Kristina Braverman:
People have asked me how much of myself is in Kristina, and I would say about 90 percent. We've sort of become one person. She's given me the balls to do things ... I hate that word but I just said it! Sometimes I say it, and I just, I don't know ... She's a go-getter, man. I'm the same way. Maybe that's why [Parenthood producer] Jason [Katims] hired me.

On her favorite Parenthood character:
Zeek, for sure. He reminds me so much of my dad. I love that man with all of my being. I said to Craig, why don't we do a spin-off, and he started laughing. I said, you know, we can do a show -- a half hour -- where you play my dad. It will confuse people a little bit! But that's OK. I would love that more than anything.

On her favorite Kristina parenting moment:
Teaching Max to dance and also when [Kristina] got in the back of the car when they picked [Max] up from the trip. As a mom, those moments ... please. It just reminds you of your own life.

When I went shopping for Liam -- my middle one -- for his first prom. His first and only prom. It was just one of those moments when you want to enjoy and relish. Those moments are fleeting.

On her most magical moment of motherhood:
When the three of my kids are together, and they're getting along, and it's quiet, and we're just having a nice little dinner, and you feel serenity. No one's in a rush to go anywhere. That's why I look forward to the fall and winter. I feel like summer is so busy. I love to make big pots of stuff on a Sunday and make homemade bread even if it doesn't turn out right.

Having the kids here, watching the Browns game on a Sunday ... and just relaxing with them and hearing them laugh. It's so funny to watch Molly and Danny bicker. I get a big kick out of that. They're so much alike, my 23-year-old and my 9-year-old!

On being a mom to her 9-year-old vs. her 23-year-old:
Everything is different [with 9-year-old Molly]. My values are the same; I want them to grow up with integrity, but I was a kid when I was parenting Danny and Liam. I was 23 when I had Liam. I think you go a little bit slower.

I was always moving with Danny and Liam, always in the car going to auditions and castings and rush, rush, rush, always had this high level of anxiety and gotta do, gotta be, gotta make. I have a drive that will always be with me. I'm very Type A. I like to create and make and figure out and take care of, but I think with age I'm really taking the time to -- as corny as this sounds -- listen to the birds.

On starting her Mrs. Potter home line (yes, it's a reference to the song):
It sort of started organically. My father was an inventor. My mother was a homemaker; she was a cleaning lady as well.

He was always tinkering with things in the basement, creating things, and I was his pal who helped him do all this stuff. Growing up in a household like that, I've always had that drive, that creativity, that gene that sort of stays with you.

More From The Stir: Dear 'Parenthood', PLEASE Don't Kill Off Kristina Braverman

I started working on products for the home through my website, a lot of DIY stuff. People kept asking me can you try this, can you help me make this, and I just started to work on some things and we're sort of blossoming into a little business.

Everything we do is handmade, hand-crafted, and hand-poured. I work with a lot of local artisans and makers in the Ohio area. We're looking to sort of branch out and work with different people in different communities as well to make really good, quality products that people can use and bring jobs back to the area.

On being a crafty mom:
When I was first married, I was just 18 and we didn't have a lot of money. [My oldest son] Danny and I would actually do stuff -- as hokey as this sounds -- and we would collect things from outside. We were living in Cleveland at the time, and in fall, we would collect leaves and dry them, and we'd find branches from different types of trees and make wreaths and things like that.

I still do that today. I have a magnolia tree in the front, and I'm drying the leaves from that and making a fall wreath and glazing them.

I've always been a crafty kind of a gal.

On Pinterest stressing out moms:
It is overwhelming when you look at that stuff. I had to take a step back from it! I do a lot of stuff because I love to do it, but if you start to go on those sites, you start to feel bad about yourself.

I look at those things, I actually have anxiety. I have anxiety because I feel like I'll never measure up to what those things are.

You're going to make huge mistakes and fall right on your face. That's something that I really want to stress to people -- especially moms.

I say you do what you can.

Order [your child's birthday cake] from the grocery store if it doesn't turn out right. I do!

I am not Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart. I'm the complete opposite. I love those women; I think they're wonderful, but you have to just allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them and grow.

On sharing her failures:
I have made so many things that have just turned out to be so crappy, which I'm going to share because I have photos of them.

It's not about perfection. There's no such thing. You can try; it's never going to happen.

I like to share the stuff that worked for me and say what happened -- whether it's a craft or a parenting tip. I'm learning as I get older with parenting, a lot of moms that I know, that I can relate to ... you always feel like you have to put your best foot forward and put on a smile, which you do in life, but I also feel that if you can sort of talk to other moms who are going through the same thing that you're going through, it allows us as women to exhale and go wow, that person is going through this as well. It's not all roses and daisies over there.

Whether it's a recipe that went wrong, something you did wrong as a parent, something you're learning as you're growing in your own life as a woman ... I like getting older because I'm learning all that.

On Parenthood ending:
I am beyond. I am ... yeah. It will allow me to do other things, like I just bought the house I grew up in and I'm going to go back and refurbish that. It's going to be the face of the brand -- and that's great. But I'm going to miss going to work every day!

I'm going to miss my castmates, my family, my second home.

I'm going to miss [TV husband] Peter [Krause] the most, and Max, I think. I don't want to ever play another wife on television for someone else. I told him that, and he started laughing and said, "I don't want you to either."

We've already shot two episodes and because we're only doing 11 -- 13 total but each castmember is doing 11 -- that means I only have nine left.

I was talking to Jason last week, and I said we should think about maybe doing some more episodes. He was like, I know, and I said, why don't we go shop this somewhere else? Why don't we go shop this over at Amazon or Netflix? You know, Community did it!

On her ultimate series finale:
I think super simplistic, you know. Adam and I having a hug and holding hands and life goes on, like nothing is tied up in a pretty bow and finished.

I think what I'd like to see as a viewer is to know that the Bravermans are still living their lives. I don't think anything should be quote unquote completed or final. I'd leave the door open!

I don't ever want to see the Bravermans finished, like everything's either great or fixed. That's not what life is. That's not what our show has been.

What is your favorite Kristina Braverman moment?


Image via Monica Potter

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