As Shannon and Gene’s two kids- Nick and Sophie- enter adulthood, I want to talk to Shannon about what it’s like to be a mom. The good, the bad and of course, the rock n’ roll!
As I walk in I find Shannon tucked away in a corner of this quaint café with her reading glasses on looking at her white iPhone.
If you were to look up the phrase “down-to-earth” in the dictionary, you might just see Shannon’s face.
Well, as I got myself all ready to meet Shannon (I was a complete bag of nerves)- I shaved my legs, plucked my eyebrows and tried to dress myself to look like as much as a human being as possible. (If you are a hermit crab like me, ya don’t get out much, so getting dressed to meet someone important is hard.) I put up this tweet in preparation:
But, to my surprise, Shannon is clad in gray jogging pants, a white top and her running shoes. You see- she was supposed to go hiking this morning, but it didn’t happen, so since she didn’t sweat she came right out to meet me! And here I was hoping that I was properly dressed!
I feel right at home with Shannon as she embraces me in a great big hug that only a Mommy knows how to give! And speaking with her is as easy as pie- it feels like I’ve known her forEVER and I can just tell her all of my secrets.
Nothing is off limits with Shannon and after a bit of small talk and over a yummy lunch, we get down to the real reason I’m here- to talk about her membership in the the club that so many women are blessed to be a part of- The Mommy Club.
Everyone knows you’re Canadian, where in Canada are you from?
I was born in Newfoundland.
Do you still have family there?
My father died in… ’82 and that’s the last time I was there. I don’t have any direct family there. I’d love to go back, though.
Is it just you and your sister [Tracy] or do you guys have other siblings?
Seven of us.
Do they all live in the states now?
Just my sister Tracy, my other siblings still live in Canada. (Shannon has 3 brothers and 3 sisters)
What made you want to come to the states?
I left home really early- probably because there were so many of us. I was just tired of sharing everything. My mom kept us off of welfare by working during the day and going to school at night. She went back to school and learned how to be a Lab Tech and eventually she headed the Hematology Department at the hospital. So she did really well. When I was 15 I just said “I gotta go.” So I went, got a job and got a little apartment. Eventually, I moved to Ottawa and I was asked to be in a Miss Ottawa pageant and things just kinda snowballed from there.
On Being a Mom:
Have you always known that you wanted to be a mom?
I still want more.
If Gene would let me adopt, I would. I would have SO many and I wouldn’t adopt from India or China- there are so many kids right here. Right in this city. Right in this town. It breaks my heart.
I think about the older kids- the ones that will be let out of the system when they are 18… where are they gonna go? People are afraid to help them because they think- what?- that the kid is gonna come into their house and steal a picture frame?! Who cares? Help them!
Does Gene want more kids?
He’s done. He’s like no- I just got you back.
I don’t know, though. I still think that I can try to talk him into it after the kids [Nick & Sophie] have completely left home, but… I don’ t know. I’m working on it.
I would love to have another child of my own. I’ve still got the eggs- I checked. I just need a little help from Gene.
We see so many children of celebrities who often go down the wrong path, becoming mixed up with drugs, alcohol and excessive partying. How did you manage to raise children who are so well grounded? How come we don’t see Nick out there boozing or Sophie flashing her boobs?
I don’t know… I really don’t know. They just don’t want to.
When Nick turned 21, I tried playing beer pong with him and tried absinthe, but it didn’t work. So I just said to myself he’ll probably never drink.
Is it really that sincere respect for Gene’s image that they don’t put themselves out there like that? Did you guys have a talk with them like “your dad is a celebrity so…”?
No we never had a talk with them. It’s a respect for their parents, but I think it’s more a respect for themselves.
Do you think the fact that Gene doesn’t drink have something to do with it too?
Yeah, I do there’s Gene who’s like Dudley Do-Right. Never done anything- not a drug, not a cigarette, not a drink and will never. Then there’s me who did everything and now knows better. So now I can tell them what to look for and I explain everything to them. I tell them everything I’ve done.
So you’re honest with your kids? Do you think that’s important in parenting?
Oh yeah. I really do. I don’t think kids are stupid. I think they know when you’re not telling the truth. I mean, I think there’s age appropriate honesty- there’s no point in telling your kids about sex and drugs when they are like five!
A lot of teenagers are having sex and getting pregnant now…
Sex is so casual now, but you know what- sex was casual when I was young too, but it wasn’t as talked about. I have a feeling that it will go back to being proper- it’s going to be cyclical- because where else can it go now?
My thing with boys when I was younger was I wasn’t getting it [male affection] from anywhere else because my father got into that car accident when I was 11. So I was always looking like “do you like me? am I pretty?” from some. guy. All of the time.
Sophie has so much love and male adoration at home- she doesn’t need to look for it. I think that’s really important. That’s where I think the two parent thing comes in. Even if you’re divorced- being there and being present. It’s important.
Gene was on the road a lot when the kids were young. Do you think that Gene’s traveling affected his relationship with the children at all?
No. He’s a different guy with the kids then he is with anyone else. They are the only ones that can make him cry- them and America, anything patriotic… he was absent, but he wasn’t. He would call everyday. He’s called me everyday since I’ve known him. He’s got a great connection with them.
There was a point when Sophie was young that she said:
“Mom, Dad doesn’t know that I don’t like ketchup.”
And I ask her- “well is it important that he doesn’t know you don’t like ketchup?”
“Well, not important” she said “but why doesn’t he know that I don’t like ketchup?”
And I said “well, he’s been out making a really good living for us, so he hasn’t been eating with you as much as I’ve been eating with you. And- I make your meals- that’s the only reason I know you don’t like ketchup.”
And she says “Well, it’s kinda frustrating ’cause he keeps offering me ketchup!”
They have finally realized that Gene is not about the small stuff, he’s about the bigger picture. So for small stuff, like questions about girls/boys or relationships they come to me. For bigger picture things like financial advice, career advice- big stuff; big ideas- they go to Gene.
Nick is majoring in English and Sophie is on her way off to college this year. Was it a Simmons family rule that your kids had to go to college?
We never said anything- they just assumed they had to go to a four-year college and get a degree. They didn’t want to run away; go to any out of state schools, they both wanted to stay pretty close to home. Nick comes home on the weekends.
And they’re so, so different. She’s a math head, he’s an English head. She’s into her sports and volleyball, Nick’s 6’7″ and never touched a ball.
They’re so different, but I don’t know really what they’ll end up being. I can’t tell. They’re gonna do somethin’… somethin’ good.
For you, what’s the hardest part about being a mom?
Letting them go I think. I didn’t find a hard part before. It was a little hard doing it on my own sometimes and I say that with all of the respect in the world for single mothers everywhere. I don’t know how they do it.
I never, ever want to complain about that ever. My mom had seven kids by herself- God love her- and I had all the money in the world and a nanny. So I can’t complain- nothing was hard, ever.
Emotionally, it was hard to be the disciplinarian all of the time. After a while, I thought the kids are going to hate me. I was the one saying no, no, no all of the time and then dad would come home and he’s the best parent in the world and it would piss me off! But you can’t show it, because you don’t ever want to play against one another. We always had a deal- whatever one of us said, the other one went along with it. You two have to be one, you can’t go against each other like “ohh your mom said no, but I’ll say yeah.” You can’t do it.
Did you guys ever argue in front of the kids?
Well we don’t argue because Gene does whatever I say!
But no, don’t argue in front of them. Take it somewhere else.
I think disagreeing is fine and discussions are fine, because this teaches the kids that people aren’t always going to get along in life. But personal attacks, yelling and fighting- no. The kids only learn that mom can be a bitch.
Some moms have a hard time balancing being a mom and spouse/girlfriend/partner and never really finding time for themselves. How do you manage being Sophie/Nick’s Mom and Gene’s partner and still finding time for Shannon?
There’s not a lot of time for yourself.
I was PTA President, I was lunch mom- I wanted to make sure that I was present at the school, so I quit working so much and volunteered at the school a lot. After school, I’d take the kids to their various activities, so there wasn’t any time for me. I lost a lot of friends, but you have kids and that’s what you sign up for.
I think a lot of moms lose friends when they become parents
You do, but you gain other friends.
You get different friends for different things. I have a friend I go hiking with and a friend that I get together with to talk about men and sometimes you all get together. It’s different now, though, it’s not like you have time to just go and hang out with your girlfriends.
Now that both kids are in college, I’ll have time to start doing that again.
So basically we all have to wait for our kids to grow up to get time for ourselves?
Yeah. I mean, take care of yourself- take care of your health. So… you don’t have time to put your makeup on- whatever. Take your vitamins, drink lots of water and go to the soccer game. I lived in my sweatpants.
So being active in Nick and Sophie’s lives…
Really important to me. Because Gene’s a workaholic, I have to.
When other parents kids would ask them to drop them off a block away, my kids would ask me to come in. That was nice that my kids didn’t mind their friends seeing me or having me around.
Now, Sophie always wants to hang out… we go get our nails done together. I love that she reminds me about “Mommy Time” and she hasn’t ditched me.
As a Mom, what is the most important lesson that you hope you have taught Nick and Sophie?
To not be a sheep.
Don’t do it just ’cause everybody else is doing it. Really think about the consequences and know that your actions can affect your whole family.
As a parent you can have four children, three of whom are doctors and one that is in jail and you will always be known as the mother of the child who is in prison or the sister of the guy that is in prison.
Also, self pride. Self pride is major. That gets you everywhere.
So, are you looking forward to being a grandma?
Oh God, yes. I tell Nick if he can find a girl that just wants to have a baby, he can give it to me- just drop it off and walk away! Sophie- she’s not allowed to have kids yet. Total double standard, I know.
And because your fans want to know:
In the episode when you had the taser party at your house- did you and Tracy really tase and pepper spray that woman?
If I tell you I’d have to taze you!
This image is mine. No copying. Mmkay?
Why would you want a random picture of me anyway?
The Jewels of this family are clearly the amazing children they have been able to raise.
You can see Shannon in all of her awesomeness on A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels. New episodes starting Tuesday, July 20 9/8 C.
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