By Stacy Jenel Smith
This TV season is a prodigiously fertile one. No, not in terms of hit shows -- in terms of new moms who are juggling TV stardom with baby duty. True! "I had literally decades of 'me time' and I squandered it. I got married late. I had plenty of time to worry about my hair and getting my nails done. Now, 'me time' is over and I go around with a thin veneer of vomit on my clothes."
So says Julie Bowen of ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family," who has three sons -- Oliver, 2 1/2, and five-month-old twins Gus and John.
Amy Poehler of "Parks and Recreation" has son Arcihe Arnett turning the big 1 this Sunday (10/25). Is it easier, or harder to manage, now that he's growing from infant to tot?
"Every stage has its challenges and beauty," Poehler replies. "It's like one great short story after another."
As far as how she manages motherhood and stardom: "One day at a time."
Nicole Sullivan of 'Rita Rocks' has two-year-old Dashel and two-month-old Beckett. She notes that her show, about a mom trying to restore her own sense of identity amid the chaos of a bustling family home, in many ways "mirrors my life right now ... It's a constant reminder that as I'm playing a mom trying to juggle it all, I'm trying to juggle it
Over on the set of "Eastwick," Rebecca Romijn is the mother of 10-month-old twin girls, Dolly and Charlie. She credits husband Jerry O'Connell for making her dual life possible. He took some time off from his own career to play Mr. Mom, and brings the girls to the set to see Rebecca.
Was she concerned over whether she could handle it all?
"Of course I wondered, but basically, you just do. It's either a sink or swim situation. You find the strength. It's there," Rebecca says. "It's a big adjustment going back to work, but you know, mama's got to bring home the bacon."
The "Grey's Anatomy" baby boom includes Katherine Heigl's newly-adopted daughter Naleigh, Chyler Leigh's daughter Anniston Kae, and Ellen Pompeo's Stella Luna.
Joining "Grey's" Nov. 12 is Kim Raver, who has sons ages two and seven. And, that's only a partial list.
Asked whether she wondered whether she'd be able to handle mothering twin baby boys in addition to their 2 1/2-year-old brother AND her "Modern Family" role as harried mom Claire, Julie Bowen says, "No. I knew I couldn't do it.
"Look, anybody can do anything," the funny lady goes on, "it's how well you do it. My sister says to me, 'Good enough is good enough.' It seems you're never done putting out one fire before there's another one, but you just keep going."
Bowen is one of three highly accomplished sisters. One owns a successful interior design firm in L.A., the other one -- who gave Bowen those golden words for heavily-burdened moms to live by -- is a doctor of infectious diseases in San Francisco and a mom.
So, how does Bowen manage it all? "I do a lot of outsourcing, and luckily, it is an ensemble, so I'm not in every single day, all day," she tells us. "I do spend more than I should and can really afford on people helping me. You have to speak a lot of languages at our house. We have quite an international set. To top things off, don't speak Spanish. But, everybody loves the babies.
"Things seem so much more complicated now than in the past," she adds. "When they raised children on the prairie, they gave them chores and a ball and a stick and they milked cows ran through the grass and that was about it -- or maybe it wasn't, but it seems that way."
Bowen and her husband Scott Phillips, a software developer, have discovered for themselves that real children can do things that are more outlandish than any character invented by TV writers.
"The 2 1/2 year-old is completely bizarre," she lets us know. "Where to start? The temper tantrums over what clothes to wear, or not wanting to wear clothes. The dread of one cup -- he must have the other cup...
"Even the twins, you can already tell -- they're not identical, they're 19 and 14 pounds, and they're polar
opposites. One can almost crawl and one barely moves. They're on different plans. This has nothing to do with me, they're their own people. You realize what biology has in store for you."
Raver recalls, "'Lipstick Jungle' was the ultimate challenge for me. I had just had Leo, our younger son, three or four weeks before starting the show. It was me, Brooke (Shields) and Lindsay (Price) and our hours every single day were like 13, 14 hour days. After having that baby, I definitely learned so much about juggling and what kind of tools you have to have in order to be a working mom.
"Now, I'm out in L.A. and it's a new challenge. I'm lucky to have a really supportive husband and family. My mom and step dad have been coming and helping out," she says.
What kind of tools made life easier for the former "24" actress? "Being uber-organized. I found that if I need to be making my son his lunch or his snack for school, I have to do it the night before, along with memorizing lines. It has to be done the night before, when everyone is asleep. Once everyone is running around and getting ready for school, it's impossible.
"Delegating is important; we all pitch in. It helps having a schedule. As a parent, at least you can try to have a schedule -- and then hope for the best. Asking for help, sharing responsibilities with friends -- we've been car pooling and that's been great. Trying to plan ahead.
"I'm not saying I always accomplish it, mind you," she adds, laughing. "But, that's what you hope to do."