But they cracked her life wide open in the best way.
Kristen Bell is one of the most relatable celebrity moms on the internet. Whether she's sharing behind-the-scenes moments that are super unglamorous or talking about how her #couplegoals marriage is actually really hard work, we love how Bell is an open book.
She peeled back the cover even more to kick off the new season of The Motherly Podcast. On the first episode of season three, Bell tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety she wasn't always sure she should have kids, but now that she's a mom she realizes maternal instinct has been guiding her all along.
In her conversation with Tenety, Bell takes us back to her pre-mom days, when she and husband Dax Shepard were deciding whether they should be raising humans or just stick to dogs.
How Kristen Bell + Dax Shepard decided to have kids
"My husband said, let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids, whether or not it's worth it. And every single one of them was like, Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth," Bell explains.
That conversation led the couple down the road to parenthood and their growing daughters, 5-year-old Delta and 6-year-old Lincoln. Bell says she had no idea what life as a mom would be like, but it has turned out to be pretty great.
According to Bell, when she and Shepard looked at their baby the feelings were not ones that are easy to articulate, but they felt what their friends had tried to explain. "This, this is why," says Bell, who has continued to feel new, powerful feelings as her girls have grown. "The way we look at what our children have done to our lives is that it's sort of cracked wide open," says Bell, who adds that bringing Delta and Lincoln into her family has her "living for something else..and it gives you a whole new profound sense of self-esteem."
How Kristen Bell's priorities changed with parenthood
Bell should hold herself in high esteem because this mama is out here killing it career-wise, and motherhood helped her figure out her priorities and pick the next right project for herself and her family.
"The thing parenthood did for me was it right-sized all my problems. Like I was on this hustling hamster wheel of staying relevant and you know, going after my dreams, which is great, but there's a time in your life you don't meet many grandmas who are like hustling," Bell tells Tenety. "I mean, because there's different stages in your wisdom and your life and it's okay to let those stages happen. That's what I've grown to learn is like. The stages are okay. They all come and you know, someone in their twenties can hustle. And right now I can be more stationary and be more stable for my kids."
Bell is stable but she's also an incredible success. In 2019 she starred in Veronica Mars, The Good Place and Frozen 2, and she launched baby care line, Hello Bello, with her husband. It's fitting that the couple co-launched the line, because they divided up diaper duty and other childcare responsibilities since growing their family.
How Kirsten Bell + Dax Shepard divide childcare responsibilities
Bell says Shepard was "evolved enough" to recognize that if he expected his wife to do all the childcare he would be missing out on bonding with his kids and that if one parent becomes the default parent then they become the driver of the parenting car. Shepard didn't want to be a passenger in their family, Bell explains.
"Like I do think that's true and it's a hard truth. But like if you're not putting the effort into raising the kids, you don't get to say what time the curfew is," Bell says. "The person who's changed the diapers gets to say that...You get to come home at the end of a long day, never having seen your kids and make the rules. That's bologna and 1950 is over. So I think it needs to be an even workload, no matter what the jobs of the parents are."
How Kristen Bell sees the world through the eyes of a mother
The Bell-Shepard household is built on gender equality but Bell is very comfortable in the role of nurturer and is in touch with her that side of herself, she tells Tenety. "I realized I've had maternal instincts my entire life, and I never labeled them as that, but I will. I mean, at one point I'm going to get a little back tattoo that says 'there's no such thing as other people's children' because there's just not, I mean, I believe it to my core because everyone you pass on the street was celebrated when they were born."
Her belief in caring for all children, not just her own, has led Bell to support various causes including Baby to Baby and the Good+Foundation. In such a divisive time in our culture, Bell's philosophy is one worth adopting.
In 2020, the #yearofthemother, let's all remember that there is no such thing as other people's children.
To hear more about Kristen Bell's experiences in motherhood and her career listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.