Vanessa Lachey on the 1 Big Difference Between Raising a Boy vs. a Girl

vanessa lacheyJuggling work, event appearances, her online lifestyle community, and of course being a devoted wife to husband Nick Lachey and mama to their 2-year-old son Camden and 6-month-old daughter Brooklyn keeps Vanessa Lachey all sorts of busy. Clearly, she possesses those "superpowers" only multitasking mamas do.

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The Stir recently caught up with Vanessa in NYC as she spread the word about Popsicle releasing its first-ever official comic book in partnership with Marvel Custom Solutions and launching a new SuperHero hub, “Deep Freeze 9,” on Popsicle.com. The stylin' and completely down-to-earth celeb mama dished about raising a boy and a girl, the parenting lessons she wants to teach her kids, and how the whole Lachey brood is planning to spend the summertime.

What's your favorite summer memory from childhood?
I remember our neighbors had the real Slip'N Slide, and we had the trashbags that you taped together and put dish soap on to make it slippery! And then, the ice cream truck would come by. 

So, Camden is into Marvel superheroes. Now that you have Brooklyn, how do you think you'll handle the antiquated but still pervasive gender stereotype that "superheroes are for boys"?
First of all, I know I'm never going to force anything on my children. I believe that if my husband and I instill in them the confidence of their own voice and that they can be heard and they have a choice and whatever they believe in, they can have, and they can do, I think that trickles down into superheroes as well. I mean there's Captain Marvel who is a woman -- just sayin'! I feel like they say that because girls genuinely gravitate towards other girl toys, but I don't think that they ever specifically made it 'this is for boys.'

As long as we as parents remind ourselves that there are no walls and no boundaries as far as who are children can be and how they want to express themselves, whether they want to put on Daddy's sneakers or Mommy's heels, they're playing around. And as long as we can let them play around, and ... as long as I support Camden and Brooklyn and make sure they are exposed to everything ... I have faith they won't see color, gender-specific things, they'll just see life, and that's all I can hope for for my children.

More from The Stir: On Raising Girls in a 'Boys Will Be Boys' World

Why do you think it's so important to let the kids make mistakes?
Whether they make mistakes or fall when they're little, and they're in a secure environment, when they get older, they will have more confidence in the choices that they make. ... I'm reading a book right now called Parenting With Love & Logic, and it talks about allowing them to make mistakes. Say it's really cold out, and you say, 'Do you wanna wear a jacket?' They're like, 'No!' It's the hardest thing in the world, but you have to say, 'Okay. That's a choice you make, great.' Granted, you put it in your purse, because you know when you get out there, they're gonna be freezing, and they're gonna want it. But they have to come outside, realize it's cold, and go, 'I think I want my jacket now,' and you're like, 'Well, what a coincidence, I have it here.'

What's something you feel like moms of girls should know?
I think what's important for moms of daughters is to be able to -- for me personally -- love them fully, but also let them be who they're going to be. I feel like I'm gonna have to pull myself back and not force her to be a certain way or think certain things. I just have to let her be who she's gonna be and love her unconditionally, and I think that's extremely important.

As a mom, I think you see your daughter as a clean slate and for you to go, 'Okay, I can do it right with this one! And I'm going to show her how to not make the mistakes I made.' But what we forget to realize is we're either going to paint them into a corner where they're going to want to make the mistakes out of spite and just to be vindictive or they're going to make these mistakes and not be well-rounded, because we never exposed them to it, so I think it's about just letting them be who they're going to be and letting her know that no matter what you do, when you fall, I'll be there to pick you up. When we fight, I'll be there to forgive you, and when you hate me, I know you'll come back, and I just love you matter what. And I am here, because you are going to stumble and fall, but that's what life is all about. She's going to be her own girl and her own woman, and I just have to support her through and through.

Do you feel there's a difference in how you'll raise Camden, as he's your boy?
Yes, absolutely! There's definitely a difference there. What it is specifically, it's hard to define now. But ... there's a mommy love for her son and a mommy love for her daughter. I was telling my girlfriend, 'I love [Brooklyn] SO much, but I don't love my son any less than I love her. I love him SO much. You really cannot explain it, it's a different kind of love.' I said I feel like I'm having an affair, but I'm not having an affair, cuz I'm having this lovefest with this person, and this person knows about it. Like Cam knows I'm having a lovefest with [Brooklyn], and she'll get older and know I'm having a lovefest with him. It's two completely different loves but the same intensity, you know?

What's the coolest thing about having a boy and a girl?
I try to give them both the same foundation of love and life and happiness and just hope for the best. But because Cam's the firstborn, I do have to encourage him to protect baby sister! I'm like, 'Let's be gentle with baby sister! Let's love on baby sister!' But it's an equal playing field, they're both gonna get the same opportunities, and I'm going to teach them the same lessons ... kindness, happiness, forgiveness, and inspiration and drive, and working hard. It's not, 'You're supposed to go to work,' and 'You're supposed to stay home and cook!'

More from The Stir: Quiz: Are You a Boy Mom or a Girl Mom?

What's the funniest thing Cam says about his baby sister?
It's just every day, it's just, 'Mama, put baby sister ... down. Mama, right, here, put her down. Mama, put her in the jumper. Mama, put her down for a nap.' He always wants me to put her somewhere, so my hands are free. I'm like, 'But I just got her.' He's like, 'But. But. Put baby sister down.' I'm like, 'Mama wants to hold baby sister and then, she can hold you. We're sharing the love.' Then I just talk him through it, and he's over it, and he's like, 'Ooh, Lightning McQueen!'

You recently wrote a blog post about regularly emailing both kids, beginning when you were pregnant. How did you come up with that lovely tradition, and what other traditions have you started since?
I heard about it somewhere through the grapevine, but ultimately, it's a great way for us to share what's going on now later. I think that was one thing I always regretted [with my parents] was ... 'What was I like as a baby? And do you guys have videos? Do you have pictures?' I was craving all of that when I was older. Whatever [the kids] decide to do with it when they're older is on them, but at least I know we did it, and we have it. It's one of those things that does take time out of your day, but once you do it, you're like, 'I'm so glad I did it. I'm so glad it's done. I'm so glad it's there.' Because you only have this moment once to remember forever.

Speaking of memorable moments, what was the first time you felt like a mom?
It's interesting, well, every morning, I take a picture, and I send it to Nick. It's me, Brooklyn, and Cam, her having her milk, him having his milk -- different milks! -- and we're sitting on the couch, and he's working in New York, and it's the first moment that the three of us sat on the couch, and it's actually Nick's screensaver. I really truly, truly, truly felt like a mom holding my love with my husband personified, like on me. That was a moment. But ... somebody said this to me recently, you always feel like a mother, cuz you know you're pregnant, and you're carrying the baby, and you've kinda always known, but the father knows he's a father the moment you're in delivery.

She's like, 'You can actually see the moment and pinpoint it on a man when he realizes, 'I'm a father,'' so I think that's more black and white, but as a woman, it's this constant evolution of being a mother, and moments make you feel like moms -- supermoms, for that matter! Like, 'I did this! I did it all -- working, having two babies, I'm a wife, and a friend.' So, yeah, there are moments I feel like a superhero! Every mom should. It's the hardest job out there, but the most rewarding, and there's no pamphlet for it. And really, when you step back and look at your life, and think, 'Wow, I just juggled all of that,' it really is like you have a superpower.

 

What is your mom superpower?

 

Image via John Lamparski/Getty

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