Jennifer Lopez knows a thing or two about being a mom.
The singer and actress has twins Max and Emme with ex-husband Marc Anthony. She’s also set to become stepmom to fiancé Alex Rodriguez’s two daughters, Ella and Natasha. Since welcoming her son and daughter in 2008, Lopez has been open about her parenting experience.
In honor of her birthday, here are 17 quotes about motherhood from J. Lo.
“The doctor says, ‘You see that right there, that little grain of rice? That’s the baby. You see this other little grain of rice over here? That’s the other baby.’ I was like ‘What.’ I started laughing hysterically. I just laughed out loud, I couldn’t believe it. And that’s how I found out I was having twins.”
“They just made my life so much better. I’m forever grateful that … you know, I didn’t have kids until later and so I almost thought that it wasn’t going to happen for me, so I’m very aware that I was blessed with that. It could have been something different. I don’t take it for granted one day.”
“When I was pregnant and I had my kids and they were little, everybody has advice for you. And honestly, you’re like, ‘Just leave me be and let me figure it out myself.’ Which you will, and you do. I’m just like, ‘Yay! You had a baby. She’s healthy. That’s all that matters.’”
“I love what I do. I love my kids and they come first, and everything else falls into place after that. I take it one day at a time, trying to do the best I can.”
“By nature I am not tough, believe it or not. I am a lover. And with my kids, I am even softer. I realize with my son, I have to sometimes be tough, especially now when he’s pushing boundaries. With my daughter, I can get a little stern with her and she pretty much will listen. But my son will just scream and yell and run. I’m like, ‘Aaaaah, what do I do with this?!’”
“I came in from my first two appointments and I had to start getting ready for this and when I left, [my kids] were eating hot dogs and I was like OK, I’m going to let that go. And then I got back and they suggested tacos for dinner and I said, ‘No! Let’s be serious here. Just because I’m working today doesn’t mean it’s taco, pizza, hot dog day.’ It was crazy. … I just try to do the best that I can.”
“I think a lot about teaching my kids to work hard. I’ve learned something about kids ― they don’t do what you say; they do what you do. I watched my parents. My dad worked nights, and I was aware of how much he was doing for us. My mom was a Tupperware lady and also worked at the school. I always felt that I couldn’t let them down. And I had a natural discipline from early on. I was always training for something.”
“It starts with a late breakfast. We sleep in, even the kids sleep in. And Sunday Funday, they work towards that because they don’t get to use their iPads during the week. Or play video games or anything because it’s school time. And they have to be good in school and then they get Sunday Funday. It’s something I made up so they could work towards it and behave!”
“We’re realizing, the world is realizing that women are not even coming into their own until they’re in their 40s. That they have so much to offer. That you can stay in shape, that your life is not over once you have kids and it becomes only about your kids. That to be a great mother or great parent or great woman in this world, you have to be a great individual first, you know what I mean, and that’s very empowering and we’re all realizing this.”
“They are both artistic children, but you never know what avenue that’s going to take. I can hear that Emme can sing. She loves to dance and will sit there for hours watching dance, but you never know what path that’s going to take. She could be a choreographer. And I can see that Max is very comfortable in front of a camera.”
“You cannot imagine what it’s like to be a mom until you are a mom. I used to give my friends who have kids advice all the time, and they would look at me like I had three heads. And then, when I had you two, the minute I had you two, I literally apologized to all my friends.”
“They do something to you where you want to do everything right for them. And obviously, no parent does everything right. It’s this weird thing that happens where you are striving to be as good as you can be so that they turn out well. And that requires that you be a really great, evolved, aware person in every moment. Which is pretty awesome. But it’s also putting tremendous pressure on yourself ― which is why women feel so guilty!”
“When people have said, you know, ‘You’re doing too much. You can only do one thing,’ I always had it in my mind, I was always a person who was like, ‘Why not? Why not?’ So I kind of had to forge my own path, make my own rules. And I was obsessed like that, I liked it that way for a while. Just working and working and working. But it wasn’t until I had two little angels come into my life, that everything changed. You know, I knew I had to be better. I knew I had to go higher, I knew I had to be stronger than I had been before. It was through that unconditional love that my career, that my whole life, became clearer in every way. And now, today, I stand here stronger and better than ever. So thank you, Max and Emme. There is so much more to do, and I know in my heart that the future is even brighter than anything I could have accomplished up to now because of you.”
“We’re still friends ― and we’re parents. But it’s going to take time. It’s tough. But for the most part, I feel very proud of the way we’re handling it. I really do. We are doing the best we can for the kids.”
“Listen, I’m aging, like every mom out there. You have to juggle the kids and the working and the taking care of yourself. It’s not an easy thing.”
“Here’s what I know about doing what I do ― and obviously their dad is the same way. If they’re going to do it, there’s nothing I can do to stop them ― and I’ll support them. But just like my mom, I’m going to make them go to school and I’m going to let them make that decision when they’re old enough to make that decision. I don’t want them to be in the business at a young age. I just don’t think they need that burden, that pressure. They should have a normal life ― go to school, play, grow up. They should have a family life, as solid a foundation as I can give them. If they want to go off and be artists or singers or dancers or pilots or architects or anything, then they have my full support. My mom couldn’t stop me from [getting into this industry], I won’t be able to stop them from doing it.”
“Kids are so beautiful and open to love and new friends. I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away.”
Jennifer Lopez knows a thing or two about being a mom.