Imagine Gisele Bündchen's surprise when, two months into her relationship with Tom Brady, he broke the news that his ex-girlfriend of two years, Bridget Moynahan, was having his baby.
In her just published memoir Lessons, the Brazilian supermodel recalls the fateful day in which her now-husband delivered the shocking news and reveals how it actually made them stronger.
But first, Gisele dedicates the book to her kids—Jack Moynahan, 11, Benjamin Brady, 8, and Vivian Brady, 5—writing, "Thank you for your love, for being the light of my life, for being the most incredible teachers and allowing me to travel on new roads, discovering deeper meanings and purpose. You are my inspiration every day to do all I can to make the world a better place."
In the chapter entitled "Know Thyself," Gisele recalls how she met the quarterback on a blind date in December 2006. "I learned quickly that he was a warrior in his sport, pro football. What surprised me, and what I fell most in live with over time was his kindness, gentleness, his sweetness. Tom was and is a solid character. He was as close to his parents and sisters as I am to mine, and I could tell he was very loving and had strong family values. It took me no time to realize he would be a good family man." At the time, both of their careers were in "high gear," something the couple bonded over. "His goal, he told me, was to play for 10 more years and retire, then he wanted to focus on having a family," she writes. As she was 26 years old, "That sounded like a great plan, as I also felt I still had so much I wanted to accomplish in my career."
"But life unfolds in unexpected ways," Gisele writes. "The only constant is change."
Referring to Bridget as Tom's "ex-girlfriend" (and not by her name), the 38-year-old model then details how the athlete broke the news of the actress' pregnancy. "The very next day the news was everywhere, and I felt my world had been turned upside down. Needless to say, that wasn't an easy time. But it was a time that brought about so much growth." Later that year, in August 2007, Jack finally arrived, "making my heart expand in ways I didn't know was possible."
Calling Jack her "bonus child," Gisele notes that her stepson "has been a huge gift and blessing" in her life. "In fact, I credit Jack with accelerating Tom's and my growing up in so many ways. The two of us agreed that Jack should have siblings closer to his own age, and not 10 years younger. With Jack in our lives, our priorities definitely started to shift. I wanted to be there for Jack and Tom, and do whatever I could to create stability in their lives, and help them to have a close relationship. Tom, especially, needed my support during that time, and whenever I'm in a position to be of help to anyone, especially someone I love, I will be there...We decided to start our family sooner rather than later. A couple of years later, we were married, I became pregnant, and soon we were busy growing our family between New England and Los Angeles."
The decision to become bicoastal was made "so we could all be with Jack more regularly," she continues. "But by the early summer, our family was back in Boston in time for training camp."
Though she'd helped raise Jack since infancy, raising two young children was a big adjustment. "A new marriage, a new baby, a new life in New England—it was a big transition for me. I didn't know anyone in Boston, and living there made it harder for me to do my work, but I was in love with Tom and I wanted to make our marriage work. So what I'd worked so hard to achieve, the thing I'd done since the age of 14, had to take a backseat," Gisele writes. Noting that it "wasn't a completely smooth transition," she felt "conflicted," "depressed" and "overwhelmed" at times, though she tried to appear strong. "I felt the massive new responsibility of motherhood."
But even before Gisele and Tom tied the knot, "We talked a lot about how we wanted our relationship to develop, and I expressed that I wanted an interdependent relationship, not a codependent one," she writes. "I see marriage as two people walking side by side, growing individually and together, never give up the essence of who they are, or their dreams, to please or pacify their partner. I wanted someone who would accept me fully for who I was, someone who would accept me fully for wo I was, someone who inspired and challenged me to be the best version of myself. I wanted to be that same person for my husband." Most importantly, Gisele wanted to ensure he shared her view that kids come first. "I had always dreamed of having a family, and when that dream came true, my children naturally became my priority."
While things with Bridget were awkward, Gisele remained focused on Jack's needs. "I wanted to build the best possible relationship with Tom, Jack and our children," she writes. "I love nesting and I'm also a peacemaker who likes making everything better, easier and more harmonious for the people I love." Jack "is the most responsible" of her three children, and he "also has a healthy balance of masculine and feminine energies. He's extremely dedicated, loves playing soccer, and once told his dad that someday he wants to go to Michigan, Tom's alma matter," she writes, noting Tom's glee. "Like his father, he is also kind, sensitive and generous."
With her mindful approach to motherhood, Gisele writes that she has worked hard to ensure "Jack and Benny are already connected to their more 'sensitive,' intuitive sides." She feels "lucky" to be their mom, which is why she often rejects modeling jobs. "Either Tom has a big game, or Benny has a play at school, or maybe Jack will be with us for the weekend, or Vivi has a bad cough. For whatever reason, the scheduling doesn't always work...My family comes first."
For more from Gisele, buy a copy of Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, available now.