Patricia Richardson: There’s Always Room for “Improvement”

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Patricia Richardson was a very important mother throughout the ’90s. Not only did she help raise her three fictional sons on the sitcom "Home Improvement", but she also had three children of her own to think of! Richardson played the do-it-all mom Jill Taylor on the popular TV series for eight seasons, but despite all the parenting practice on the show, the 60-year-old still admits that she’s "wired wrong for parenting". All moms make mistakes, Patricia, don’t worry! ModernMom was lucky enough to grab an exclusive interview with this talented, personable, and–wait for it–HONEST mother.

Even during "Home Improvement", Richardson’s life was a lot different from Jill Taylor’s. She divorced her husband halfway through the show and became her children’s primary parent. As a fulltime actress she often felt guilty for leaving her kids to work, so she cut back on her schedule to accommodate her motherly duties. "I loved acting, but I was content to step back and be a mom," she described that period in her life.

After life as the head of the Taylor family ended in 1999, Richardson backed off her acting career a bit. "When you’re on your death bed, you’re going to remember being a mom, not doing a movie," she said, proud of her decision. She admits feeling like she never saw her kids and wanting to get her life back. Making the leap to a child-oriented lifestyle, then, was not hard for this dedicated mother.

Now with three grown children, all attending prestigious schools on the East Coast, Patricia is an empty nester. When her children went off to college she decided to start looking for work again–this time in the theater. "I did sitcoms because they’re like live theater," she said. "But I always wanted to go back to plays." It took her a while to get back to her first love, though. Richardson starred in a few Lifetime movies, as well as a P&G flick. She admits, however, that roles are harder to come by these days. "I’m in a weird in-between age where I don’t look right." She explained that she needs to look older for some characters, but younger for others. Her search paid off though, because she’ll be starring as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate" at the Cape Playhouse in Cape Cod this summer! (Congrats for snagging the role, Patricia!)

Because children have been such an influential part of Richardson’s life between her own kiddos and those three "extras", ModernMom asked her how she managed (and continues managing!) to keep her head on straight despite the constant pressures of motherhood. "Now it all seems like such a blur," she laughed. "The best piece of advice I can offer is to stop and count to ten." Stress doesn’t bring out the best in us, she went on, and sometimes your child doesn’t know how bad you feel about accidentally freaking out on them. "Make sure you go back and fix it. Don’t just let it go by," she advised, obviously speaking from experience.

Ever the optimist, however, Richardson admits that you’ve got to forgive yourself for the mistakes you commit. "I have a lot of regret about the mistakes I’ve made as a parent," she said, but "you’re going to drop balls…you can’t keep them all in the air!"

"I feel like I did everything wrong. I’m not wired for parenting. I’m hyper, nervous, too reactive. I wish I had good shock absorbers so I could be calm!" laughed the actress and mother. But she overcame this lack of self confidence somehow to become the mother she is today. The thing that helped her through the seemingly unnavigable road of working motherhood? Her unconditional love for her babies, of course.

"When your children are first born, you’re never prepared for how much you love them. My husband and I were so completely in love that it terrified us. You’re horrified by the prospect of losing them. You’re stunned by how much you love them. You’re so overwhelmed by the responsibility," Richardson shared. "You didn’t even know you could have that much feeling."

Perhaps we talked about her shortcomings as a mother a bit too much–when we asked her to describe her parenting style, her reply was: "Not good enough!" "Sometimes I miss the times I didn’t say I was sorry or I didn’t kiss that boo-boo," she admitted. Sorry, Patricia, we weren’t trying to make you feel bad! But hey–isn’t this so true? No mother is perfect, no matter how much she attempts to be the this decade’s Jill Taylor. It’s refreshing to hear someone in the media spotlight that doesn’t just blabber on about what a smooth, problem-free ride motherhood has been for her. Patricia Richards is an example to ModernMoms that being a mommy isn’t just about playing role of the perfect matriarch. It’s about doing the best with what you’ve got and opening your mind to possible home improvements.

Get "Home Improvement: The 20th Anniversary Complete Collection," now available on DVD.

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