Sheryl's New Rules for Life
Don't be fooled by the fancy electronic gates at Sheryl Crow's Cross Creek Farm, outside Nashville. Or by her stone and brick mansion, surrounded by 154 acres of rolling pastures. Don't be fooled by any of that country estate stuff, because the minute you walk into Crow's house and see plastic toys, tricycles, a high chair, and sippy cups scattered on the floor and counter, you know: This is the home of a regular mom.
Three years ago Crow left her Hollywood Hills spread -- and the celebrity world she'd become part of since her 1993 smash debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club -- for a quieter life in Tennessee. Her diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer in 2006 played a big part in that move. "After I learned I had cancer, my life took on such a sense of urgency," says Crow, sitting in her white-on-white living room. "I knew my life was never going to look or feel the way it was before. Having a life-threatening illness, even though it wasn't going to threaten my life [Crow underwent successful radiation treatments] made me reassess everything." One key revelation was that she wanted to be a mom, whether or not she had a partner. In May 2007 Crow adopted Wyatt Steven, followed by a second son, Levi James, in April 2010.
"I've always had maternal instincts," says Crow, who, as a former music teacher, has spent plenty of time with kids. "And there are many different ways you can go about that. My sons didn't have to be from me. They didn't have to look like me. I just wanted children to love."
She also increased her activist role, helping champion causes such as Feeding America and breast-cancer awareness. "I was raised in an involved community. Through our church we'd work at an old folks' home or plant trees. I want that for my kids." This month she will represent the CMT One Country initiative at the CMT Music Awards, which links volunteers to a slate of good causes, including Habitat for Humanity. She's also an environmentalist, determined to heal the land -- her farm is solar powered -- and heal herself: Her new cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy, features organic vegetarian recipes full of disease-fighting minerals and proteins.
These days, at 49, Crow looks terrific. She's lean, muscular, and model pretty. As we sit she listens intently for the sound of Wyatt coming home from preschool with his nanny, who'll also have Levi in tow. Her voice is soft, thoughtful -- and tired. "I sleep with two monitors: one for my baby and one for my 4-year-old," she says. "They yell 'Mommy!' and I'm up. I'm a 24-hour mom."
For now, though, the house is quiet. And Crow takes this rare peaceful moment to talk about the new rules that guide her life.