Over the years, actress Debra Messing has been caught on camera sharing sweet moments with her son, Roman Walker -- a kiss at the airport when he was 4 or a trip to Disneyland when he was 7. What nobody got to see were the notes of encouragement she leaves for him -- all around the house. “My parents did it for me when I was young,” she said in an interview. “They used to leave handwritten notes for me. And I would take them with me and it made me feel like they were with me.”
Now Messing has joined the Post-It Your Words Stick With Them campaign to encourage more parents to write notes to their kids. She spoke with HuffPost Parents about the new initiative (which benefits Adopt-a-Classroom), her No. 1 goal as a mother and what she thinks about her son’s love of acting.
Why did you get involved in this campaign? What was it about handwritten notes that really appealed to you?
It’s something that I’ve done for my son for years. I think of them as love notes. I put Post-it notes on his mirror in his bathroom, on the refrigerator door. I hide them in his books. It’s little surprises to say “have a great day,” “have fun today,” “I love you,” “I believe in you.”
What’s your son’s reaction to the notes?
Oh, you know, he’s 8 years old. So one time, he’ll say, “Aww mom, another note?” and yet he keeps them. There’s a Post-it note up on our refrigerator from when I left town for two days, and that was like five months ago. It’s still up there saying, “I love you. Have fun today.”
Has he ever left notes for you?
Yes, he has! He’s learned a thing or two. I think he has surmised that because I do it so often that perhaps I would like them as well. And he’s right.
Are there any that are particularly memorable?
I’m a sucker. Anytime there’s a note that says, “I love you, mama,” I melt.
What is the best parenting advice you received?
Love and respect your child for who he is. I think that it was very, very instrumental for me as a child to have parents who said, “You know what? You love to sing and dance and act. That’s who you are. That’s what makes you happy. So we support you. And we believe in you and we believe you can do it. And we’ll do whatever we can to support that dream that you have.” And I think that’s the greatest gift a parent can give their child. In a sense that’s what these notes are doing.
You mentioned in an interview that he was in “Peter Pan” and he might have caught the acting bug. How do you feel about that?
I would be lying if I didn’t say I was ambivalent about it. It’s like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. Would I want him to be an actor in a perfect world? No. But it’s clearly in his genes and he loves it and it makes him happy for now. So I feel like it’s my job as a parent to support anything that inspires him and excites him right now. And that means piano lessons and soccer and all kinds of things. And eventually it’ll become clearer to him what he wants to do for his life’s work. If it happens to be acting, then so be it.
Does he know you’re famous? How aware is he of your celebrity?
At this point he’s very aware of it. For a long time I tried very hard to shield him from that. Once it became more clear that strangers knew who Mommy was, then I explained to him that it was only because what I do for a living is on television or in movies. And so lots of people recognize my face, but it’s just a job. Like a teacher or a doctor or a vet, it’s just a job I do and it doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else.