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Maria Shriver Opens Up About Love and Loss

In an AARP exclusive, she discusses motherhood, living alone and "the power of the pause"

Maria Shriver (right) with parents Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

2001: Maria Shriver with her parents Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver. — Ron Galella/WireImage

AARP: For a time, you, like many in the sandwich generation, juggled simultaneously caring for your kids and your parents. What was that experience like?

Maria Shriver: It’s emotionally challenging trying to raise your kids — and parent your parents at the same time. That’s challenging no matter what economic group you’re in. There’s a gaping hole in my day that was taken up talking to my brothers about my parents, talking to doctors about them, going cross-country, managing stuff. But not a day goes by that I don’t miss my parents. If I had a choice to have them here, I’d do that all again.

Your oldest children have now graduated from college. Are you still really involved in parenting?

MS: I feel that it’s my job on a daily basis to love my four children unconditionally and to focus on them. I still have a son who’s in high school. I work any job around him and his schedule.

You recently went back into television journalism. How does that fit in?

MS: I’m blessed that they let me come back in a limited capacity. My goal is to put my toe back into journalism so that by the time Christopher leaves for college, I’ll have something that I can transition to full time.

AARP Blog: Maria Shriver returns to NBC with a focus on women

Has it been hard to get back into that work?

MS: When you leave your career, it’s hard to find your way back. People move on. Things change. The technology’s different.

You recently hosted a series on Alzheimer’s. What message did you most want to get across?

MS: That Alzheimer’s is a boomers’ disease. And that young people should care about Alzheimer’s because they’re going to end up taking care of their parents — financially, emotionally and physically. It rattles your whole family dynamic, and it’s not something that’s going to happen some other time. It’s happening now — at the rate of every 68 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s.

Your NBC beat is women’s issues. Why that focus?

MS: I spent a long time living that beat — being a child of the women’s movement and the mother of daughters who want to do it differently. And that beat includes reports on women and men: men’s changing gender roles; women’s financial, emotional and spiritual health. How we interact with men. How we raise our sons. 

Next page: The "power of the pause." »

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