In Her Own Words: Sandra Bullock's Guide to Motherhood
ON THE LENGTHS SHE'D GO TO FOR HER KIDS
Accepting the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Award for best-frightened performance for her Netflix hit Bird Box, Bullock told the crowd the award was for her kids.
"I wanted you to see what being a family looks like, that sometimes you’re born into a family, sometimes you need to go find it, sometimes it finds you," she said. "But no matter how it comes together, that when it does, family is what you fight for, family is what you protect and what you saw in that movie is what your mommy would do for you."
"But no matter what, you are my first thought in the morning, you are my last thought at night," she continued. "I was put on this earth to protect you, you are my world, I love you so much, and I will move mountains to make sure that you are safe."
ON HOW BIRD BOX MIRRORED HER LIFE IN SOME WAYS
“We’re very lucky that we get to live in this moment in time where we get to choose what our family looks like, and I got to do that in real life,” she told PEOPLE in December 2018.
"You imagine so many things for yourself, but when it appears it’s better than anything you could ever imagine. I think what I loved about this [film] is that it sort of mirrored what I feel about real life, in that my family is not how most people thought it would look, but it’s better."
ON BECOMING A PARENT THROUGH ADOPTION
“Hundreds of thousands of children that are ready to be your child, you’re a forever parent the minute you accept the love of that child,” Bullock told Hoda Kotb as she broke down in tears in a June 2018 interview about the women's shared path to motherhood.
“It’s amazing to me how we can take away people’s happiness by telling them this is the box that you have to stay in," she added. "There is no box. There’s no box.”
ON THE RUSH OF MOTHERHOOD
"You get so good at saying no and you’re so panicked about everything. You literally have to stop and say, ‘Why did I just say no? Why don’t we just play hooky from school one day and just go enjoy life?’ " she told PEOPLE of the daily rush of motherhood. "I’m constantly having to override my fear."
ON WHO COMES FIRST IN HER LIFE
"It’s all about my kids. If I could never work again, I’d be okay with it because I’d get to go home and be with my babies," she told PEOPLE at the premiere of Ocean's 8, explaining she almost didn't join the cast because filming interfered with the school year.
ON HOW BECOMING MOM TO LOUIS WAS MEANT TO BE
The Ocean's 8 star revealed that she was debating going through the adoption process when a tragedy made her certain that it was her fate. "I did think, ‘Maybe not.’ Then [Hurricane] Katrina happened. I’m going to cry,” said a teary-eyed Bullock on Today. “Katrina happened in New Orleans and something told me, ‘My child is there.’ It was weird.”
The actress added, “The beautiful thing that I was constantly told was, ‘The perfect child will find you. You will find your child.’ But you don’t believe that when it’s not happening. When you’re going, ‘Where is my family?’ When it does happen, you know exactly what they’re talking about.”
ON HOW SON LOUIS LED HER TO DAUGHTER LAILA
Bullock may have been a mom to a son at the time, but her family wasn’t yet complete — and Louis knew it before his mom even did. Bullock shared on Today that she was having dinner with a few girlfriends when Louis, then 3, decided to join them. When one pal talked about her daughters, Louis chimed in, “Yeah, I don’t have daughters. But I’m going to have a baby soon.”
“I realized at that time, maybe he knew something. And when I think about it, it would have been around the time that Laila was born,” Bullock said. “It’s Louis’ way. Louis has a very strong way. He’s a fine leader, and he led me to Lai.”
ON HOW SHE'D DESCRIBE LOUIS
“Lou is super sensitive. I call him my 78-year-old son. He’s like Shecky Greene, a Jewish Catskills comic. He’s wise and kind,” she told InStyle. “I saw that when they handed him to me. There was a spiritual bigness to him. I was like, ‘I hope I don’t eff that up.’ ”
ON HOW SHE'D DESCRIBE LAILA
“Laila is just unafraid. She’s a fighter, and that’s the reason she’s here today," Bullock told InStyle. "She fought to keep her spirit intact. Oh my God, what she is going to accomplish. She’s going to bring some real change.”
ON THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF BLACK PANTHER AS A MOTHER TO A BLACK SON
"I started to cry backstage when I was telling [the Black Panther cast not only] how much the film meant to me as a woman, but how much it meant to me as a mother," she told Access Hollywood at the 2018 Academy Awards, referencing her experience seeing the cast right before the interview.
“I’m so grateful to Marvel because about five years ago, my son asked me if there were any brown Legos,” she continued. “And I said, ‘Yes, there are,’ and I got a Sharpie and I turned Spider-Man brown, I turned the Legos brown, and I don’t have to turn them brown anymore.”
ON HAVING 'THE LOUDEST CHILDREN ON THE PLANET'
"The babies are so good. So loud, so loud," Bullock said during an appearance on Harry of her son Louis and daughter Laila, both of whom she adopted in 2010 and 2015, respectively. "I have the loudest children on the planet. I don't know if it's the acoustics [in our home], but they are amazing." She added: "They're just good, funny souls."
In 2016, she echoed those same statements in an interview with Access Hollywood. "It's so much louder, because she's got a voice that carries," Bullock said of welcoming Laila to the family. "She's going to be a singer, or a judge. Someone who commands a room with her voice."
ON WELCOMING DAUGHTER LAILA
"When I look at Laila, there's no doubt in my mind that she was supposed to be here," Bullock told PEOPLE exclusively, adding that Laila fit right into her growing family. Louis was so excited to be a big brother, he helped his mom spearhead the adoption process, the actress shared.
"All I wanted was for her to know Louis and I weren't going anywhere," Bullock said. "My family is blended and diverse, nutty, and loving and understanding. That’s a family."
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
It's family first for Bullock, especially when it comes to her career. "I wanted to make something my son could see and watch and enjoy, even though he doesn't know what I do and he doesn't know it's me – I can sit in the theater and watch him," she said of her decision to work on Minions for son Louis. "Nothing makes me happier than hearing that boy laugh."
ON HOW SHE PICKS HER ROLES NOW
Putting her family first also means Bullock is super selective about the roles she takes on. In fact, Bullock, who told PEOPLE at the Toronto International Film Festival that she was "having fun just being a mom," stressed the importance of finding a passion project – much like 2013's Gravity. "It had to be something extraordinary that would be a life experience for myself and my boy because he comes with me," she said about her role in 2015's Our Brand Is Crisis.
ON HOW SHE WORRIES LIKE ANY OTHER MOTHER (& WE LOVE HER FOR IT)
"Am I the mother my son deserves? And am I living my authentic life? Am I good enough, working hard enough? Am I able to keep my son safe? Did I pick up all the dog poop in the yard before the playdate?" she told PEOPLE of learning to control her worrying thoughts. "Worrying used to be very paralyzing for me, and now I can talk myself off the ledge. Louis is the one who snapped me out of it."
ON BEING A ROLE MODEL
Turns out, Bullock's son Louis is the one to ask all the tough questions in the star's household. "Louis asks me some serious questions, and I'm really honest with him on a level he can handle. It's a beautiful thing," she told PEOPLE. "I want him to be a good man who is good to women and is really in touch with how he feels."
ON CELEBRATING MOTHER'S DAY
... Even if it means spending it in tears. "He sang me a song that he wrote ... I didn't have the heart to tell him he plagiarized," she joked to Ellen DeGeneres about her son's surprise serenade. "[The song goes], 'There was a mom I love so much and Sandy was her name-o.'" Cue the water works. "I'm just like, 'Ahhh!' He played the harmonica in between, and then he just kept looking at me. He's all boy with a really tender heart."
ON FINDING A KID-FRIENDLY PLACE TO WORK
"'It has to be a great time for my son. I can't miss him. If I miss him, I will be of no use to you," Bullock recalled telling Gravity director Alfonso Cuarén and the movie's producers before she accepted the role.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF ... DANCE
The Oscar winner offered up sound advice to a group of high school graduates during her 2014 commencement speech. "[Louis and I ] turn on the music really, really loud before we leave the house, and the rule is you have to dance a little bit before you step out in the world because it changes the way you walk," she tells the class. "It changes the way you walk out in the world."
ON STICKING TOGETHER
"Whatever comes our way, we handle as a family," she told Vogue in 2013. "It's not just me anymore."