By Jen Juneau
April 16, 2019 at 08:20 PM EDT
Dave Allocca/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Not many people would likely look at Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling and think they don’t have it together 24/7 in every aspect of life, but as a parent, Mendes would beg to differ.

The mother of two spoke to Women’s Health for the magazine’s May 2019 issue, where she posed for the cover and opened up about her and Gosling’s life with daughters Amada Lee, 3 this month, and Esmeralda Amada, 4½.

“We’re just starting to get out of survival mode,” admits Mendes, 45. “I’m starting to feel like a person again.”

The actress also reveals that having kids “was the furthest thing from [her] mind” until she met her beau.

“Ryan Gosling happened. I mean, falling in love with him,” she says. “Then it made sense for me to have … not kids, but his kids. It was very specific to him.”

Mendes and Gosling, 38, have “an amazing support group” consisting of their moms and sisters — “a village that helped” them raise their daughters from birth.

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And the star shares that her own biggest drive is her children as opposed to her career at the moment, explaining she “felt a lack of ambition” when she became a mother and now feels “more ambitious in the home right now than I do in the workplace.”

She has more than enough to keep her busy with her girls, though. As Mendes reveals, “Every day is such a learning experience — they challenge you in so many ways. Like, I’m their mom. I have to rise up, and hopefully, most of the time I do, but sometimes it’s definitely maddening.”

Mendes also says she has an “incredible” amount of “respect and appreciation” for her own mother, who primarily raised her and her four siblings on her own.

As a result, she plans to instill being appreciative for what she has on to her own children, even though she says “it’s definitely a concern” considering their parents’ occupations.

“Not only are we in the industry, but the whole fame component is super scary when you try to raise your kids,” Mendes tells Women’s Health. “What I try to emphasize is that I don’t let them see me put attention to how I dress. They’ve never seen me get ready for something; they’ve never seen me at work.”

“Which is fine, for whoever wants to do it that way, but the way I keep it normal is by not letting them see me in these situations,” she adds. “I’m just Mom. And I’m more than happy to just be Mom.”

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