Last Updated on August 10, 2023
(This article originally appeared on the website Disney Family in 2008.)
Alison Sweeney was just a teen when she made her soap opera debut on Days of Our Lives, back in the early ’90s. More than a decade later, Sweeney has gone beyond her onscreen character of Sami Brady to take on the responsibility of real-life mom. We caught up with the woman behind America’s favorite villain to get her input on the biggest role of her life.
Q: What is the most unexpected thing about being a new parent?
A: It completely caught me off guard how much it changes your perspective on life. You have a new routine and a new list of priorities, but I didn’t know how it was going to affect all sorts of other decisions that I make. I was contemplating laser eye surgery and before [I had a baby] I probably would have done it. Now I’m thinking, “What if I go blind?” Even if I just wanted to go snowboarding or something dangerous, it’s not just your life that you’re risking. You’re the mother of someone who needs you. I just didn’t imagine that that was going to happen.
Q: Have you given up anything because of that?
A: Yeah, little things. You realize that you’ve got to change your idea of fun. You have to control it, so that you’re not putting your life at risk in any way. And you want to be safe and healthy for your child.
Q: Have you ever had a moment where you felt unprepared as a parent?
A: I always feel unprepared as a parent. Like when I take [my son] Ben to the market and I forget to bring his blanket or his favorite toy of the moment. You feel so irresponsible, like, “What kind of parent are you?” All he wants is his blanket and his sippy cup and you forgot half. “What’s wrong with you?” There are books, but there’s no Ben encyclopedia, so you just have to try every day.
Q: What is one important value you hope to pass on to Ben?
A: Consideration. Manners, good behavior, and consideration for others is something we work on really hard with Ben. Ben is learning his manners and sharing and being kind to others. He seems to have that in his nature already, so obviously we want to encourage that. That’s something that’s important to me.
Q: Would you be happy if Ben followed in your footsteps?
A: No. I’m totally serious. I do not want him to be an actor. If he wants to do it as an adult, that’s okay, but I don’t want him to be a child actor. I mean, I love my life now, but I missed out on a lot as a kid. It’s a choice I myself made, but I hope my son has a normal childhood and gets to do all sorts of fun, normal things. If he wants to be an actor as an adult, then God help him. [Laughs.]
Q: What’s one unusual food that he likes to eat?
A: I don’t think it’s so unusual in LA, but he loves edamame. It’s funny because [my husband] Dave didn’t like edamame until Ben started eating it, and I was like, “Your son has a wider palate!” Really, edamame is just a nice way to eat salt.
Q: Does he have any favorite music or music that you like to listen to?
A: He loves this one song and this was not provoked by any of us, but it just happened to be on the radio for a little while at a very formative point for him, but there’s a song by Better Than Ezra called “Juicy.” And he loves it. Loves it. And he knows the classics, like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” He takes his hands, puts them behind his head, and reaches as far back as he can. It makes me want to cry every time. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
Q: What’s the best parenting tip you ever got?
A: First-time parents sometimes stress out about their child and try to do everything. The best tip I ever got was to imagine you already had one child on your hip. What would you do? For example, if your infant is crying or upset, your instinct would be to rush and get it for him. But imagine if you already had a kid who needed your attention right that moment. You wouldn’t be able to drop everything. So it teaches you that you don’t have to freak out so much and that you can relax a little.
Q: And what do you most look forward to as Ben grows up?
A: Being friends with my kid. I really look forward to that. I have a great relationship with my parents, and my husband has a great relationship with his parents, and we all get along really well. It’s so much fun to go to dinner together and enjoy each other’s company as adults. I really look forward to that with Ben, being friends.
Q: Has there been a moment in the last two years where you’ve thought, “This is what I’m supposed to do. This is the best thing ever”?
A: I suppose every stage of his life there’s a moment like that, but most recently we were sitting down at dinner, and I sit right next to him so I can help him. I was talking to Dave and [Ben] wrapped his arm through my arm and laid his head on my shoulder. I almost died. It was the cutest thing ever and it was completely unprompted.
Q: Do you two have a favorite bedtime story?
A: You know what’s so funny? Before I had Ben, my character on the show had a child. They had one episode where I read him Goodnight Moon, and for some reason, I just didn’t get it. I was like, “Why am I reading this stupid story?” But now it’s my favorite story to read to him.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share about being a parent?
A: Just that it’s the best thing. I absolutely love it. It’s harder than you ever thought and just so worth it. It’s awesome.