NZ Woman's Weekly

May 10, 1999

Lucy's Mother Love
by Tony Brenna

Contributed by Liz

With a new baby on the way, Xena star Lucy Lawless has vowed her daughter Daisy won't be forgotten.

Lucy Lawless plans to proceed carefully through the potentially difficult times ahead, when she brings home a new baby, because she doesn't want to trigger any emotional turmoil for her daughter Daisy.

The Xena: Warrior Princess star has admitted frankly to American friends that, since becoming pregnant by her new husband Rob Tapert (44), executive producer of her hit TV series, she's thought long and hard about the psychological well-being of her 10-year-old.

"Daisy's been through a lot more than most kids her age. She's had a mother who's pursued by fans all the time and that alone can be very threatening. She's often had to live out of a suitcase with me. And she had a big scare when I fell off that horse and broke my pelvis," Lucy (31) points out.

"She's been shuttled between two parents - her natural father and myself. She's endured times when we've had to be apart because of my work. And she's seen a new man come into my life, which sparks loyalty conflicts for a child who also loves her real dad dearly."

While Lucy isn't going overboard by getting too psychological about sibling rivalries, she's carefully preparing her daughter for the arrival of the new child and explaining how it's going to produce some big changes in all their lives.

thm_NZWW2.jpg (11389 bytes)"Lucy likes to be the best at everything she does, be it acting, singing or motherhood," says celebrity biographer Barbra Paskin, who follows Lucy's career closely. "And I'm told she's read practically every book there is on parenting, because she wants to be the best at that too. I think it's absolutely commendable she's making sure Daisy's prepared for the arrival of the new baby. Many children feel pushed out when a new infant comes on the scene."

So far, Lucy's involved her daughter in everything surrounding the pregnancy. Daisy even got the news a child was on the way before Rob - and she was absolutely thrilled. Lucy's told her, if all goes well, she'd like to have two children with Rob. But she's emphasized her very special love for Daisy will never be diminished by the new arrivals. And she's told her daughter just how much she's going to need her help in the future as the family grows.

"I'm taking special care in this situation because we are not your average family. We flit to and from the US and I get a lot of attention, whether I like it or not. Daisy now has family in two countries. She sometimes has to deal with the pressure of living in the glare of publicity my work generates, while I shield her from that as much as I can," Lucy tells friends. "I want to spend most of my life in New Zealand but I have to be fair to Rob too. He has family and business connections in the US and now we have a beautiful home in California."

Her words offer more than a hint that Lucy and Rob intend to increase the amount of time they spend in Los Angeles, especially if she's going to develop the film career she wants once the internationally successful Xena series ends. That could mean Daisy either going to American schools or receiving private tutoring when the family's in the US. And extended stays away from Auckland would be heart tugging in that there would be less visits with Daisy's dad, Garth Lawless.

Lucy believes in laying all the cards on the table and being absolutely truthful with her daughter, whom she describes as being "very, very sensible for her age. Daisy's taken everything her stride so far. She's a real trooper!"

And children appreciate honesty. Register psychologist Sara Chatwin, from Mindworks, which specialises in child and family issues, says Lucy is on the right track with her plans for dealing with Daisy.

"Daisy has been her mother's main focus for 10 years now," says Sara. "And, because of the separation and divorce, a lot of energy has been put into her well-being. She's received all the attention and many children find it hard to share that. The first child of a new relationship is special and the others can feel a little left out."

Sara says the best way to counteract these insecurities is to remind children how loved they are and get them involved in the preparation for the new arrival right from the start.

"Make you child feel good about herself. Quality time between Lucy and Daisy will be important over the next few months," says Sara. "It's a good idea to get children involved in getting the baby's room ready and letting them know their help will be needed in the future."

Sara suggests family members work jointly on a painting or craft work which can be a gift to the new baby. Most importantly, children need to know there will be plenty of love to go around from both sides of their blended family.

"It's a good time to reiterate that everyone loves Daisy, says Sara. "she's not going to be forgotten."

Since she's still shooting her hit series, Lucy has quite a balancing act to manage in the next months. She's already cut down her work schedule, leaving the Xena set religiously at 4.30pm each day, so she can concentrate on herself and her family. However, she's planning to keep shooting well into her pregnancy and has had a special new Xena costume designed to cope with her expanding figure.

It's times like these that Lucy leans on her own mother, Julie Ryan (62) who, with her husband Frank (67) brought up seven children in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert.

"Mum is very reassuring. She realises Daisy has to face challenges which far exceed anything we went through as kids and that I must take special care in this situation," Lucy says. "My main concern is she remains and healthy, happy little girl and doesn't become a bratty show biz family kid. I helped to raise my younger brothers and sister and enjoyed every minute of it. I hope it's going to be the same good experience for Daisy."