Mandy Moore on How Parenthood Shapes Her Music: “It Changes You on a Cellular Level”
Mandy Moore and her family are staying warm this holiday season. The musician and actor just launched a line of cold-weather-ready clothes for the whole family – there’s even a sweater for the dog – which she created in partnership with Gymboree. It’s a cozy capsule collection of knit sweaters and wintry Nordic patterns, all perfect for sitting by the fire while the snow falls.
Moore herself exudes warmth, perched in front of a tangle of Christmas lights and a collage of family photos set up in The Children’s Place’s New Jersey headquarters. Her face takes on a luminous quality when she speaks about her family, specifically – and she seems open to sharing, channeling both vulnerability and a quiet strength with her words.
“I think becoming a parent just cracked me open in every way possible,” Moore tells POPSUGAR. “It changes you on a cellular level.” She and her husband, Taylor Goldsmith, share two kids – August “Gus” Harrison, who arrived in February 2021, and their new baby, Oscar “Ozzie” Bennett Goldsmith, who was born in October 2022.
Having children has also changed her music, which is easy to hear on her most recent album, “In Real Life,” a quietly assured record that feels like a love letter to her growing family. “Wearing that mom hat has obviously influenced the music I write and the way I see the world,” Moore says. The title track, “In Real Life,” hints at exactly how family has altered her, body and soul. “I’m different now, I’m not sure how,” she sings. “The world don’t revolve around me.”
“In Real Life” was released in May, just a few months before Ozzie was born. Moore had scheduled a tour before finding out she was pregnant, and she initially tried to go through with the planned dates. “I thought, ‘Well, I was pregnant with Gus and I was working on a TV show, and I worked until two weeks before I gave birth to him, and that was totally fine,'” Moore says. Yet touring was a whole different beast – think constant movement and bumpy rides – and the grueling nature of life on the road soon became too much to handle.
“I think I’ve always been fairly good at advocating for myself, but I feel like that’s taken on new meaning now since becoming a parent and drawing really healthy boundaries.
“Now I have a 15-month-old that I’m chasing around, and I’m not sleeping well, and there are all these other extenuating circumstances,” she recalls. Eventually, she made the decision to cancel the tour for the sake of her and her future child’s well-being. “I certainly knew in the moment it was the right decision,” she says, “but that didn’t make it any easier.”
Indeed, becoming a parent has taught her to value her and her family’s well-being above all else. “I think I’ve always been fairly good at advocating for myself, but I feel like that’s taken on new meaning now since becoming a parent and drawing really healthy boundaries,” she says. “When I want to do something or I don’t want to do something, especially if it involves my family or spending time away from them, it makes the choices so much more crystal clear.” Now, she often asks herself, “‘Is this something that really resonates with me? Is it going to be worth the time away from my family?'”
Moore ended up heading back to work shortly after Ozzie was born, but she’s taken a break during the past few months and has been enjoying her time with her family in New York City. She’s amazed by “the level of awareness that my older guy is starting to have now of the world,” she says of 2-year-old Gus. “He was so stimulated by museums and parks and construction vehicles and people and just the energy,” adding that he particularly loves the Museum of Natural History, with its endless labyrinth of flora and fauna.
She’s grateful for the opportunity to take a break from work to focus on her family, but she acknowledges that not everyone is able to do so. As she puts it, “I feel incredibly privileged to have a job that allows me to be in that position where I can make those choices.”
Of course, parenthood is work, too, and the past year hasn’t exactly been restful by any means. “2022 was harrowing sometimes,” she recalls. “I mean, it was beautiful, and the fact that they’re going to be so close in age is so much fun. But I feel like we’re finally getting to a manageable point, which clearly means that the universe has some fun obstacle in store. You’re like, ‘We got this,’ and then you’re like, ‘No, we don’t got this at all.’ Someone’s going to have a sleep regression. We’re still potty training. There’s always a thing.”
Still, she’s looking forward to eventually taking her kids – sleep regressions and potty-training issues and all – out on the road with her. Touring will have to look a little different with two young kids, of course, but she’s grateful for the opportunity to share music with her children during their formative years. “I really feel like it’s made Ozzie a real deep music lover,” she says of all the music he experienced at the very beginning of his life. She even wonders if all the singing she did while she was pregnant somehow found its way into Ozzie’s DNA. “Maybe I’m just imagining it,” she says of the fascination that seems to come over Ozzie whenever he hears his mother sing, “but I’m like – ‘You were in my belly, and I was singing for two hours every night for a month straight.'”
Her face lights up when she talks about music, just like it does when she talks about her kids. “Music has never been the thing that’s paid the bills. It’s always been the thing in my life that I’ve been able to lean on as a true passion project, and I hope that’s always the case,” she says. “Music is so singular in that sense that you obviously have a band behind you, but you really feel like you’re out there by yourself. I love that sense of freedom. I love not playing a character and being on stage. I’m like, ‘This is my life and my feelings and what I’ve gone through.’ I hope that my life allows me to get to do a little bit of both forever.”
For a while, though, it seemed like she might never return to the stage. Moore shot to fame as a pop star in the early 2000s, but after releasing her fifth album, “Amanda Leigh,” in 2009 and voicing Rapunzel in “Tangled” in 2010, she took a long hiatus from music. Ultimately, though, acting was what eventually helped her rediscover her voice. During her first season as matriarch Rebecca on “This Is Us,” she had to record a song for an episode of the show. Immediately after stepping back into the studio, she was inspired to start writing her own music.
Her musical rebirth led to her sixth studio album, “Silver Landings,” which was released in 2020. When she began making music again, she realized that it could help her sift her way through some of the challenges she’d experienced over the years, including her early years of making pop music that she didn’t truly believe in and her own self-doubt, which could be crippling. “The last two records were a way of working through my relationship to music and how I felt about my past,” she says. “I was bringing a lot of baggage to the experience, and I wrote about it. I wrote through it.”
Her relationship with Goldsmith, who is also a musician, has helped too. “Having a real partnership with my husband and being able to share all of that unabashedly with him was really special and helpful,” she says. “He’s such a creative force, and I have so much admiration and respect for him.” Making music with each other, she says, is “something that we’ll be able to do for the rest of our lives.”
Ultimately, through honoring her own passions, Moore wants her kids to learn that they don’t have to compromise on aspects of themselves, no matter how much the world or other people seem to want them to. “I want them to see Mom and Dad as an example of that – you can do a little bit of both,” she says. “It’s not always easy, and it’s definitely a balancing act. But music is a huge part of my identity. I think that being able to do my job as well makes me a better parent.”
“Music,” she concludes definitively, “is always going to be a part of my life.”
See more photos of Moore and her family showing off her Gymboree capsule collection ahead.