Comedy isn't just a career for this 47-year-old alum of Saturday Night Live. Her improv skills also come in handy at home in Los Angeles when she and her painter husband, Fritz Chesnut, try to get daughter Stella, 8, and son Nolan, 6, to behave.

By Patty A. Martinez

Q. You've got a great sense of humor. Does parenting make you lose it?

A. I just try to laugh at the little things. Like, I'm always amazed by how long it takes two kids to get dressed and out the door. Every morning I say, "Come on! Let's go! Five minutes!" And they're still in their underwear. Or they say they're ready, but they're not wearing shoes. I feel like a drill sergeant in a military operation: "Get your bag! Get your lunch! Get in the car!"

Q. What kind of stunts did you pull as a kid?

A. When I was 12 my friend and I tried to sneak onto a plane from my hometown of Cleveland to New York City! My dad encouraged us—he was a wild guy, big on jokes.

Q. You didn't actually succeed...

A. We did! At that time you could walk right up to the airport gate without a ticket. We told the stewardess we had to say goodbye to our sister on the plane. I guess we looked innocent in our ballet leotards with our hair in buns!

Q. Sounds like your childhood inspired your children's book, Tilly the Trickster.

A. A bit, but it also evolved from a story I used to tell Stella and Nolan about a family who had 10 kids. Tilly plays little gags on everyone.

Q. How do you cope on days when you may feel like the worst mom in the world?

A. We all make mistakes and feel insecure. When I see a mom embarrassed because her kid is having a temper tantrum, I'm like, "Please! Do you think I've never gone through that?" Women tend to be too hard on themselves.

Q. You lost your mom when you were 4. Does that make motherhood more special to you?

A. It does. I cherish every moment with my kids, even mundane tasks. Being a mom is a profound experience for me. I only wish my parents could have met Stella and Nolan. But I'm sure they're watching over me—completely thrilled!

Fast Facts

Unfazed by Fame

"The kids don't think I'm a celebrity. They don't care about any of that stuff. We passed a bus with Will Ferrell's face on it, and they said, 'Look, it's Magnus and Mattias' dad!'"

Fall Treats

"We head to a farm to pick pumpkins and apples. Having kids even makes me want to dress up for Halloween."

Mom Guilt

"Nolan is allergic to peanuts. Once we were at an Easter party and—even though I was watching him like a hawk—he bit into a chocolate-covered peanut butter egg and started wheezing and foaming at the mouth. It was really scary."

Tooth Fairy

"Without a doubt, the worst part of being a mom is having to floss my kids' teeth every night. It's so tedious. I'm glad I don't have six kids' teeth to floss."

Growing Up Fast

"Nolan is getting to the age when he's a little too cool to hang out with Mom at school. Recently he told me not to come over to talk to him on the playground. He said, 'Wave at me.'"

Originally published in the October 17, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.