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Q: You also said that you’d been thinking much more about how fragile life is and how “pregnancy makes you more human.”
A: Being pregnant makes you feel like a sitting duck; just holding your breath until the baby comes out and you hear a cry. My concern is for their happiness and safety, and it’s always there. I’ve been working lately, taking Brody with me and leaving Reece with Laird, so when we are separated as a family, I am acutely aware of it. I’m not a neurotic mother, but when they get into someone else’s car I’m hyper-aware that they are not with me. I think the way you view fragility changes over time. We have a teenage daughter now, so fragile means something else—her personal safety and hoping she makes the right choices. That’s why taking care of your health, besides family and friends, is your No. 1 asset.
Q: Has motherhood changed you in other ways?
A: I’ve become more direct about things—I just don’t have time to hem and haw. I make decisions. There’s no time to mess around with unnecessary drama and frivolity. Since it’s my primary responsibility to care for them, I’ve lost interest in things that dilute this. You just don’t have the time for hassles or to get involved in other people’s stuff.
Q: How has Laird reacted to being surrounded by all the girls, or his “Band of Angels,” as you called it before?
A: I see it in his face: When he looks at all the girls, I see so much love, but I also see him wrestling with all of the details of what it means to be a family. I can see him thinking, ‘Oh my God, one more school project and load of laundry…’ It’s about finding the balance. I don’t expect Laird to be a mom. He does other things and we know in crunch time how the other will operate. It’s strengthened us as partners. He knows when to step in, but he wants a medal after doing it. [She laughs.]
Q: Last thoughts?
A: I’ve realized that when things are crazy, I have to take a moment and enjoy it—the little voices, laughing, the little feet, even the noise. It can be easy to wash over these things, but you’ve got to try to slow down and catch them. These are the defining moments of life, absolutely what it is all about.
When she appeared on our February/March 2001 cover, Kelli Williams was pregnant with her second child. Today, at 39, she has a dual role as star of Fox’s Lie to Me and mother of son Kiran, 11, daughter Sarame, 8, and son Ravi, 5.
Q: In our earlier interview you said you always tell your pregnant friends, "Your life will be chaotic, but you will be the happiest, sleepiest person ever." How do you feel these days?
A: I still don’t sleep enough. Someone is always waking up in middle of night. And soon it’ll be curfews and late nights with teenagers.
Q: You also said, "You wonder if you can love a second or a third child a much as the first, and you do, but differently."
A: You know you can love any child, but when you are about to have your second or third, you have no idea how you are going to do it. Then you discover that you have an amazingly endless resource of love for your children. I could have a dozen and still have enough to go around, though that would be insanely hectic.
Q: Tell us about your kids.
A: Each has a distinct personality that’s wired from the start, which is so fascinating to me. One kid is empathic and sensitive; one is cerebral; and one is very physical—he's my little savage who needs to stomp around if he’s mad. It’s like they represent body, heart and soul, and I have to parent each one differently. The key, I've found, is to try not to have any ambivalence in your parenting. As moms and dads, we have to figure out how to create boundaries with all that playfulness and love mixed in.
Q: What’s the dynamic like with having three?
A: With the second and, definitely, with the third, I have to remind myself to teach them things, that they don’t just learn by osmosis. But my youngest son is probably the most well-adjusted and malleable child of all.
Q: Any challenges?
A: At the end of the day, we all want to raise decent people and learn a little something about ourselves in the process. We were just on a family trip to Death Valley and there were moments when my husband and I wanted to just leave them there. [She laughs.] All the whining! You think that no other kid can possibly do it as much as yours. When they are out with friends they’re great, but when they're back in the car with just the family there’s a perfect storm of unhappiness. It’s maddening at times, but you adore them anyway.