Much like the harried mother she plays on Desperate Housewives, the outspoken actress doesn't sugarcoat anything, not even the ins and outs of being a wife to actor William H. Macy and mom to daughters Sophia, 10, and Georgia, 8.

By Patty A. Martinez

Sometimes your character Lynette seems on the verge of a breakdown! Can you relate?She feels overwhelmed a lot, and so do I. Our days can seem like a series of mistakes, sprinkled with "Whoops!" and "I forgot." But we also get so much happiness from our kids. My greatest moments have been laughing with my daughters, watching them make discoveries, and witnessing their honesty.

You're the youngest of eight children. How did that shape you as a mom?I learned from the best—my mother was a saint. To honor her, both of my daughters have her name, Grace, as their middle name. My sisters helped raise me, too, so there was always someone looking out for me. I still turn to my siblings for advice.

What's one way your life has changed since your girls have gotten older?Oh my gosh—it's so much easier. I can take a shower! I can cook dinner! As any mom will tell you, when your kids are mature enough that you can say, "Put on your shoes!" and they actually do it, you jump for joy! You think, "Woo-hoo! My life is easy!"

What's William like as a dad?He has a kind and generous heart, and always sees the best in people. He also happens to be very good at setting limits, which is a plus because I'm not! My boundaries aren't known until after they've been crossed—when I say, "Nope! We don't do that." William has also given his great sense of humor and wonder to our girls.

After being married for 13 years, do you still make time for date nights?To be honest, date nights can make me feel pressured. I think to myself, "I hope I have something to say that's not about the girls!" But just taking a break to enjoy a nice meal lets us remember why we fell for each other.

Fast Facts

Career high point: "Being nominated for an Academy Award [in 2005 for Best Actress in Transamerica]. I knew at age 10 that I wanted to be an actor, so it was a dream come true to go to the Oscars."

Making a difference: This year Felicity is the spokeswoman for Lee National Denim Day, which promotes breast cancer awareness. (Support research efforts at until December 31.)

Eco-conscious kids: "The girls recycle cans and bottles, then donate money to the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, and the Rainforest Action Network."

Animal attraction: "We have two dogs, two rats, a hamster, chickens, and a pony. I'm trying to talk William into a miniature cow, but he's drawn the line there."

No place like home: "My favorite spot in the world is in bed, reading Harry Potter with my daughters."

Originally published in the November 29, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.