Brooke Shields Speaks Out – A Daughter's Duty
updated 06/08/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/08/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT
How are you holding up?
It's always difficult when you see your parents incapacitated. My father [Frank, a Revlon executive] died of cancer. You fight it at first and then try to realize that the roles have to change. It's just never easy, especially when you're in this "sandwich generation" where we're taking care of our parents and we're taking care of our kids too.
How's Teri doing?
She's good. It's all been a whirlwind; she doesn't quite understand. But she has a good team [of caregivers] around her, which is good.
How did you explain what's going on to your daughters [Rowan, 6, and Grier, 3, whose dad is Shields' husband, Chris Henchy]?
You have to talk to them and make sure they don't feel threatened. They don't understand when someone can't follow what they're saying or gets impatient with them. I'll say to [Rowan], "You know when your sister bugs you or wants to have your cake or pull your hair? It's the same thing." You just have to know what you love about someone.
How do you feel now watching your kids grow up?
I tell my little one, "If you want to be a big girl, fine. But you know you're always going to be my baby." You think you'll always be your parents' baby, and when the roles change, it takes a lot to get used to it. You have to start looking to yourself. I'm the child of an alcoholic—so doing that seems to be, unfortunately, par for the course. And I'm an only child. It all has always fallen on my shoulders.
You brought the whole family together for Mother's Day.
It was really sweet. We had brunch in New York—my family, my mom, some friends. One [daughter] gave me a lavender plant, the other one gave me a sunflower plant—my two favorites.
Hard to imagine one day they'll be grown-ups?
I look at them and think, "God, I hope they're gonna join forces and take care of me when I'm old." You hope that you've earned it—that in a way, you've earned their respect.