In a cover story for Vanity Fair’s September issue, Angelina Jolie provided some insight into being Ange, family life – and how she and the kids are coping in the wake of her very public split with Brad Pitt.
“It’s just been the hardest time”
The typically gushing VF piece, which describes a gliding, kaftan-wearing Angelina as “a beneficent, ethereal wood nymph”, reveals a handful of relatable mum moments – and some that will make you side-eye.
“It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air,” the uber-famous mum revealed, going on to offer a little insight into what makes her children tick.
Of 9-year-old Vivienne, Angelina says:
“She has 32 blankets. She is very into her blanket, and she gets very mad if you wash her blanket. She actually said to me the other day, ‘Mom, I can taste my blanket.’ ‘That, honey, is a sign that it really, really needs to be washed.’’
Angelina explains that daughter Zahara, who is 12, is the “rock” of the family, while 9-year-old Knox is your average impatient, water-slide set-up urging kiddo. (“How about a ‘Hello, Mom’?” was Ange’s response to said urging.)
Vanity Fair reveals Angelina and Brad’s 11-year-old daughter Shiloh, rejects gender stereotypes – or as they put it “likes to dress like a boy… wearing a camouflage jacket, long shorts, and heavy black sneakers, despite the blazing heat.”
The couple are also parents to 15-year-old Maddox and 13-year-old Pax.
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Angelina Jolie—actor, director, writer, humanitarian— has the same concerns that all mothers do: "As I go to sleep at night, I think, Did I do a great job as a mom or was that an average day?" Read more about Jolie's new life as a single mother in Vanity Fair's sprawling cover story (link in bio). Photograph by @mertalas and @macpiggott.
When asked to comment on theories that the “Hollywood Lifestyle” sparked the failure of her marriage to Brad, Angelina says their problems lay elsewhere.
“[Our lifestyle] was not in any way a negative. That was not the problem.”
“They’ve been very brave. They were very brave,” Angelina revealed. It’s the first of several understandably emotional and cryptic statements surrounding the breakdown of her marriage.
“We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing . . . They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some . . . from life, from things in life,” Angelina said, alluding perhaps to the widely-reported altercation between Maddox and Brad, the apparent last straw for her already struggling marriage. Brad later revealed he was struggling with alcoholism.
“They’re six very strong-minded, thoughtful, worldly individuals. I’m very proud of them.”
Her kids are a high priority, and she says she hopes to provide security and strength, even when she’s struggling herself.
“I do not want my children to be worried about me. I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything’s going to be all right even when you’re not sure it is.”
The actor mum’s health continues to be a challenge. She’s recently been diagnosed with Bells’ Palsy and hypertension, some of which she puts down to the stress of parenting and her break-up.
“Sometimes women in families put themselves last, until it manifests itself in their own health.”
This is in the wake, of course, of her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after discovering she carried the BRCA1 gene. Her own mother died from ovarian cancer.
“I’m getting better”
When asked about her ex-husband she appears keen to speak fairly and diplomatically, in public at least:
“We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal.”
Joking that the “simple life” may not be for her, she said she can’t make a casserole, and can’t sit still, either.
“I’ve been trying for nine months to be really good at just being a homemaker and picking up dog poop and cleaning dishes and reading bedtime stories. And I’m getting better at all three. But now I need to get my boots on and go hang, take a trip.”
It’s not all casseroles and blankets though. There are some uncomfortable moments in the piece.
Insert side-eye here
On touring a Cambodian orphanage, meeting children in desperate need, in the hopes of adopting a child Angelina says she felt uneasy:
“I didn’t feel a connection with any of them.”
It was only when she was shown one last baby – Maddox – that she “cried and cried”, ultimately going on to adopt the little boy.
She later went on to adopt a child from Ethiopia, Zahara, met Brad Pitt and had three more children – Shiloh and twins Vivienne and Knox. Finally, the couple adopted 3-year-old Vietnamese boy, Pax.
On the high-profile marriage, Vanity Fair had this to say:
“Together, they appeared unstoppable, the most creatively alive citizens on the planet. Nothing seemed beyond their abilities.” Woah. Dyathink? #uncomfortable
And on casting children for roles in the soon-to-be released film, First They Killed My Father about the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, the piece reveals:
“Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship.” A screen test involved offering the extremely disadvantaged children money for something their family needed – and then taking the money away, to spark a dramatic and emotional response. #uncomfortable
It’s obvious Angelina is on her own personal journey and aiming to be the best mum she can for her kids. It’s also pretty obvious that she is surrounded by people who affirm her, at times, very un-relatable choices.
As son Knox sums up, “We’re not normal. Let’s embrace being not normal!” Indeed.