By Patty A. Martinez
Rizzoli & Isles star Angie Harmon plays a tough-as-nailscop on her hit television show, but she relaxes the rules at home with daughters Finley, 8, Avery, 7, and Emery, 3.
Your family moved to North Carolina two years ago, but you spend six months a year shooting in Los Angeles. How does that work? The girls come to L.A. when they’re on summer break, but I’m still on my own for three months a year. It’s difficult, but Jason [Sehorn, a retired NFL player] is great at playing the single dad. I Skype with the girls every night, and Jason films family events for me. Thank God for modern technology!
Working mothers tend to have guilt. What do you beat yourself up over?
How long do you have? Because I could go on and on! I feel like the worst parent in the world every time I get on a plane. Or when I miss their school awards. They get recognized for embodying positive character traits like honesty, and it means a lot to them to be celebrated.
Why did you decide to raise them in the South?
Having grown up in Texas, I was uncomfortable with how fast things were moving in L.A. My little girls were getting exposed to life too early. I want to keep them kids as long as I can.
What are Jason’s best Mr. Mom skills?
Getting the girls dressed in the morning. He coordinates their outfits better than I do—that’s probably embarrassing for both of us. They come out looking ready for a photo shoot. I ask, “Did you put this together?” And they say, “Nope, Daddy did!”
Anything not quite up to your standards?
Jason, make them brush their teeth!
How does he deal with four females?
He plays golf! Seriously, I don’t think it bothers him. He’s a very good dad. He wants the girls to know he’s their number one fan and protector. He loves them endlessly.
As an only child, do you find it hard to relate to your daughters’ sisterly dynamic?
Yes, the I’m-going-to-drive-my-sister-crazy-just-because-I-can thing is so bizarre to me. We’ll be picking a movie to watch and one of them will say, “That’s the one I want.” And another one will be like, “No!” just to get her sister’s goat. And I’m thinking, I don’t understand you people!
Do you ever wish for a parent do-over?
All the time. Of course I snap at my kids. In the South we call it “showing your rear end.” But when I tuck them in at night I say, “Sorry Mommy hissed at you—Mommy was tired.”
Tell us about a recent lesson your kids taught you.
The other day Avery was trying to get her seatbelt on. She tried twice before Finley said, “I’ll do it.” After her two tries I turned around and said, “Here, let me do it.” And then all of a sudden Jason said, “No, I’ll do it!” I was just like, “Everybody stop! Avery, put your seatbelt on, baby. You can do it.” She’s not going to learn anything if we’re always helping her.”
Are there any attributes you hope to pass down to your girls?
Strength, courage, tenacity and kindness. I also want them to recognize that no one is better than anyone else. And which ones would you rather skip a generation? My quick temper—it’s something I work on every single day. And when I succeed by keeping it in check, I feel great.
The most embarrassing song on my iPod is… "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. “I turn it on when I’m in a bad mood. After I listen a few times, I’m like, ‘OK—life’s not so bad.’”
I never miss an episode of… Hoarders. “I watch it, then I stay up until 3 a.m. cleaning out the linen closet. I tell Jason, ‘I have to get rid of this stuff—we’re hoarders!’ He’s like, ‘You’re just now realizing that?’“
Food I can’t live without: ”Salt! Is that considered a food? It is to me!”
My motto: “’I know what I stand for, I know what I don’t stand for, and may I have the courage to live my life accordingly.’ I came up with that in my early 20s and have always stuck to it.”
My favorite time of day is… Dinner. “I love cooking while the sun goes down. The dogs lay in the kitchen, Jason and I talk over a glass of wine and the girls run around like crazy people. There’s nothing better.” I’m proud my kids have… “a wicked sense of humor. You can pretty much laugh your way through anything.”
My kids always bring a smile to my face when they… “say there was no thorn in their day when we play Rose & Thorn. Sometimes I know for a fact they experienced a few disappointments, so for them to reflect and decide, ‘Oh, it wasn’t so bad’ … It’s my Super Mom moment.”