Leeza Gibbons is co-host of "America Now," the nightly syndicated TV newsmagazine, and the TV show "My Generation." For 17 years she hosted and produced the nationally syndicated radio program "Hollywood Confidential."She's also a mother and, of course, a daughter. In her new book, "Take 2: Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings," she hopes to help people take creative control of their lives, and she writes about how her mother affected her choices.
After her family's experience with her mother's and grandmother's Alzheimer's disease, Gibbons created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, which offers free services for family caregivers.
What are your thoughts on being a mother?
Moms are the glue of life. They keep everything together.
A football star makes the winning play and he still calls out, "Hi, Mom." A soldier sits in a foxhole and writes what he thinks will be his last note — it's to his mom. No matter when, where or what age, mothers have a force over our emotions like nothing else.
For me, being a mother is an honor without equal. My children are evidence that, even though they are part of me, they are their own unique beings.
I hope my children will learn from me the value of trying, of caring and living a life of contribution.
My three kids (ages 15, 21 and 23) probably think I'm way too strict, and I know they believe I need to back off of the teachable moments. They often resort to eye rolling when they tell me that everything can't be fixed with one of my snazzy, quick-fix bumper-sticker slogans.
Still, every now and then, I'll hear them repeat something I've said to them, and I secretly smile knowing that somehow, at least part of it is getting through.
Was your mom a good role model?
My mom was, and still is, the compass in my life. I lean on her example and wisdom daily. She was strong yet vulnerable, full of simple direction and kitchen-table advice always handed out with humor. She taught me so many things, among them, "Show up, do your best, let go of the rest."
My mom managed her mothering duties with a lot of accountability. She could admit when she got it wrong. I try hard to do that too, but it's not nearly as organic for me. I always loved the way my mother knew the line between being your friend and being your mom. She knew when to give in and when to stand firm. I try to have boundaries and still be flexible, knowing that sometimes you have to bend but never break.
Do you think mothering has changed in the last generation?
What's changed is that we are always in touch now. When I was a kid, I came home on the bus, got on my bike and didn't return till dark for dinner. I knew I had to do my homework, and I knew what time I had to be home. No texts or phone calls. What's also changed is the expectation that a kid's time needs to be produced and arranged, leaving little opportunity for the child to create the landscape of play for himself.
The pendulum will no doubt swing again. As my mom would say, "This too shall pass."
Do you believe in motherly instincts?
Absolutely. Somehow, a mother knows if her child is in trouble, if she's hurting, sick or afraid. A mom knows when to run interference and stand up for her kid and she knows when to back down and let the child learn the great lesson of failure.
I've also had lots of pitiful little voices call out from under the covers in the morning, "I'm too sick for school today," when my mother's instinct knew it was only a lack of preparation for a test.
Since you work outside of the home, how do you balance career and kids?
I actually believe that balance is bogus. ... The only way to make the life-and-career dance harmonious is to learn where to go for help, to learn how to graciously ask for it and to receive it gratefully. ... When my own mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I learned how valuable it was to connect with others who had been there and with resources in the community.