With four kids, including college-age twins and a preteen, “The Real Housewives of Orange County” star Heather Dubrow knows the ups and downs of motherhood.
In March, Dubrow and her husband Terry announced via Instagram that their 12-year-old son Ace was transgender.
All four of her children: Ace, Kat and twins Max and Nick have appeared in the latest season of Bravo’s longest-running “Real Housewives” show, which is currently airing its 17th season. Three of the Dubrow kids identify as LGBTQ: Ace is transgender, Kat is a lesbian and Max is bisexual.
TheWrap recently caught up with Dubrow to get an even more intimate look at the family fans see on screen.
We’re in the midst of Pride Month, and you have been a mother to children of different sexual orientations and gender identities. What have been the challenge and the rewards of parenting?
Dubrow: Obviously, we want the best for our kids. We want them to be happy and successful, and hopefully more successful than we were. And hopefully not go through the trials and tribulations that we went through, like the bully that you had in sixth grade, or the girl that was mean to you in the locker room, or the prom you didn’t get asked to.
But here’s the thing. When you have a child that deviates from what society deems as the norm, you worry. Are they going to be bullied? Are they going to be hurt? Are they going to be loved? Are they going to be accepted? Are they going to be protected? As a mom of four very different children of different genders and sexualities, those are the challenges. I worry about their safety and their happiness. And their integration into society and raising functioning happy, healthy humans.
The rewards are just endless. We started late; I never knew we’d have so many children, even though I always wanted a big family. I am most proud of the relationship I have with my kids and the open lines of communication. [As much as] I would love to tell you how much I’ve taught them and what a wonderful mother I am, the truth is it’s me that’s learned so much. I’ve gotten such an education from these kids. They’ve opened my eyes to so many incredible moments and experiences that I’m the lucky one.
One experience we’ve seen on the show is you sending Max and Nicky off to college and outfitting their dorm rooms. What was the one must-pack item for them?
I definitely overpacked for them. You saw what was in our garage — it was crazy. How are you gonna fit that into like a jail cell-sized dorm room, but we did. One of the best things that I got them was water pitcher purifiers. That was a really good thing. Because what are they going to do? Have 12 cases of water under the bed. Plus the environment. I wanted them to have good water. So we got them those Brita pitchers.
But I’ll tell you the biggest mistake I made. I’m really into back-stock. For my shampoo, I make sure there are three: one in the shower and two back-stock so you’re never without. So I bought the kids back-stock, but they forgot it was under the bed. I sent them with way, way too much stuff and way too many clothes.
Did they have roommates? How did they react?
Max had a single. And she has a cat. So she was in this little single, which was great. And she’ll be in a single again next year.
Nicky had a roommate. A lot of people asked me how did they go from your house to these little rooms. And my son Nick, he’s tall. He’s like 6’1. His roommate is the same. These two tall, lanky, big guys are in this little room together. The room is so small, they could lay in bed and hold hands if they wanted to.
When he walked into the room, Nicky goes, “Wow, it’s so much bigger than I thought it was gonna be.” And they just loved it. They had the best time. When we moved them out, they were sort of waxing poetic about how they’d be sad. Nicky just moved into a house with a bunch of buddies.
Are you starting to feel like an empty nester?
Now that two of them are gone, I definitely feel like I can do more. I’m very open to every experience. I ended up doing a live comedy show a few weeks ago and it was so fun and so great. It was terrifying and I loved every minute of it.
I know that you bought a property in Beverly Hills. Do you think that after all this is said and done, you’ll move to LA full-time? Or do you think you’ll always have a foothold in Orange County?
That apartment was supposed to be for me and Terry for someday when [the kids] go. But we found the perfect spot and so we grabbed it. I think that’s probably the direction we’re going in. But you know, what’s cool is when we sold the house, we’re like newlyweds again. Where are we going? What are we doing? The possibilities are endless. So we’re really exploring all possibilities. And plus, I love design. I’m not really looking to build ground-up right now. But I am looking for a new reno project, and so I’ve been looking in Orange County and Beverly Hills. Like we were talking about the universe, we’re gonna see what opens up.
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” airs Wednesdays on Bravo and the next day on Peacock.