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Q. Your kids are five years apart. Do they have similar personalities?
A. Yeah, but all four of us are type A people. We're very strong-willed and spirited. I think I got my drive and optimism from my parents.
Q. Speaking of your parents, your mom was a judge and your dad, a lawyer. Was there pressure to follow in their footsteps?
A. They'd ask jokingly, "When will you be done with this acting thing so you can start law school?" But they got it.
Q. What about your kids? Are they also natural-born performers?
A. Bodhi is an entertainer who is very interested in his facial expressions. He'll say, "Mom, tell me to look surprised!" Charlotte, on the other hand, might be a director like her father. She really likes to tell people what to do—and conversely doesn't like to be given direction.
Q. Does she get in trouble at home for that?
A. She always tries to be bossy with me. I say, "Charlotte, I'm an actress. People tell me what to do all day long. And right now I'm off the clock."
Q. It sounds like you rely on humor a lot.
A. I get my buttons pushed all the time, so I try to see the funny side of things. When Charlotte acts bratty, I mimic her. I'm sure the parenting pros will tell me this is bad, but she cracks up. It's how I get her out of a mood.
Q. The mother-daughter relationship can be tricky.
A. You can say that again. Charlotte's not the easiest kid—although I'm not the easiest parent, either! She had some speech delays so we couldn't use language as a tool until she was about 4. That created fear and frustration for both of us.
Q. What about some of your best mom moments?
A. I'm proud of not overstructuring my kids' time. I also love that I can be honest with them, even on bad days. Although ultimately, I think kids hear what they want to hear!
How you know her: Before she was a psychiatrist on Private Practice, Amy played the title character on Judging Amy and costarred on NYPD Blue.
Art-challenged: "Bodhi and I took a crafts class and one of the activities was creating mice from felt. I was extremely proud of myself—until I realized the other moms had whipped out seven mice in the time it took me to do one."
Love of my life: "The best thing about Brad is he's such a dude—and a sexy dude! But he's also completely emotionally available. Even in the midst of chaos, we can recognize each other and remember who we were before parenthood."
Happy time: "When my kids and I are belly laughing together, I wish I could file away the memory forever."
Snack attack: "I like to think whatever I eat after 10 p.m. doesn't count. I've been known to fall into bed in a food coma at 1:30 a.m. I tell myself, Go to bed now! That way you won't eat all those brownies!"
Originally published in the April 1, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.