Vanessa Lachey opens up about how her own mom abandoning her informed her parenting
Becoming a parent can be somewhat loaded if you have a difficult or non-existent relationship with your own parents. Not having that healthy blueprint of what kind of parent you want to be based on how you were raised can bring up a lot of complicated feelings, and actress Vanessa Lachey explains exactly what it’s like in a recent interview with E!.
Lachey, wife of pop star Nick Lachey, is now a mom of three kiddos of her own — Camden, 9, Brooklyn, 6, and Phoenix, 4. She’s also a newly-minted author, as her new book, Life From Scratch: Family Traditions That Start With You, was just released today. In fact, it seems her lack of relationship with her mom at least partially informed the idea for the book.
In it, she recounts a story about cooking a dish that brought up one of the few happy memories she has of her mother when her friend asked if the recipe came from Vanessa’s family in Manila. “Since that was a hard no,” she writes, “I explained that it was a dish I had been googling and experimenting with for a few years, eventually tweaking it to make it my own.”
In that conversation with her friend, the idea for the book’s title was born. “She literally says, ‘Oh, so this tradition starts with you,'” Vanessa tells E! News. “And I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ And I remember writing it down in my phone and saving it and I’m like, this has to be in the title somewhere when I write this book. And that was 10 years ago.”
Vanessa tells E! that her mother abandoned her and her brother when she was only nine years old. They left their home in Turkey and the siblings were brought to South Carolina to live with their father and step-mom. Their mother stopped for visits for a few weeks before disappearing, only to come back into Vanessa’s life to ask for money she’d won as Miss Teen USA.
“I remember growing up wondering, ‘Is she going to come back?’ And then she didn’t,” Vanessa says. “And that was the worst feeling for a little kid. Especially a little girl with her mom.”
She explains the unmoored feeling that came with new motherhood after her first child was born. “Growing up without a mother in my life to help me,” Vanessa says, “I kind of felt like I was, I don’t want to say swaying in the wind, because that makes it sound so dramatic, but I’m like, ‘What are you supposed to do for your kid’s first birthday? Is there a thing? Am I supposed to be saving the shoes? What I am supposed to do?'”
As time went on, Vanessa began to better understand her role as a mom and that in the end, it’s actually quite simple. “As long as they’re loved and they know they’re loved, I think everything else will fall into place,” she says.
As far as her feelings on her own mother abandoning her? “I’m now at a point where I’ve forgiven because I chose to,” she says, “but it definitely got to a point where when I had my kids, I got more angry at her for leaving. Like, I can’t imagine ever just walking out on my kids.”
So many facets of our own childhood can come into sharp focus as we become parents ourselves. Sometimes, that’s a very positive thing –and sometimes, it’s absolutely devastating. It seems Lachey is doing her best to find her way as a mother despite not having the best role model and that’s a position a lot of moms with a toxic parent can relate to. Hopefully, creating her own family traditions will continue to help her heal.