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She may play the queen of homemaking on ABC's Desperate Housewives, but actress Marcia Cross isn't anything like Bree Van De Kamp. "I am not the greatest cook. I can do some nice breakfast foods, but don't ask me to do much more!" the actress admits to iVillage in an exclusive interview. As for Bree, "I wish she'd come and move in," Cross jokes.
Her lack of Bree's talent in the kitchen isn't stopping the 48-year-old actress, though. The mother of 3-year-old twin daughters Eden and Savannah is working with Mott's to help kids -- including her daughters -- eat healthier. As part of their commitment to healthy lifestyles, the company has also partnered with the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! to improve local parks and build new "mega-playgrounds" across the country, an initiative Cross feels is essential. "We really need to change the dynamic of what's going on in our country right now, which has led to these high levels of obesity," she explains.
iVillage chatted with Cross about why she's a funny mom, the "gift" she got when her daughters were born (hint: it's a type of guilt!) and why she'd love to get Bree scuba diving!
Why is this Mott's campaign so important to you?
It's just a great combination of things. Obviously, healthy juices and fruits for kids is priority. And they are now partnering with KaBOOM! this year to help build ten playgrounds across the United States. Ten doesn't sound like many, but they're like super-duper $75,000 mega playgrounds. I've learned through KaBOOM! that 60 percent of kids don't have a playground within walking distance of their home. And that statistic moves to 70 percent when you're talking about inner-city kids. Kids need to start out eating right and then going out and playing. I spent my whole childhood outdoors.
What do you do to keep your kids healthy?
In terms of food, I do it with the Mott's Medley Juices. I serve them those, or I sneak food into other foods, which is something Jessica Seinfeld wrote a book about. That's what you've gotta do. One of my girls is kind of a foodie and the other one would like to just only have a jelly sandwich so I have to kind of work it with her. And then I get them out to the park or we go on a hike. I try to get them to love nature like I do.
Do you go for hikes to help you stay in shape?
Well when I hike with them it's not exactly like that. (Laughs) They're actually pretty good -- it won't be long before I will be trying to keep up. For me, I have to press a little harder.
What's a survival tip for overwhelmed twin moms out there?
I think always knowing that it's universal, that you're doing the best I can and there's nothing wrong with you. It's just that hard. It's like, "Okay, this is what it is." And not thinking, "If only I could do this better or that better," which is what I actually am always thinking. But if you just know you're doing the best you can. Take a deep breath. You only have to be a good enough mother. You don't have to be a perfect mother.
What's surprised you most about yourself as a parent?
I didn't know that I'd have such a sense of humor with them. I just use humor a lot rather than getting annoyed or angry. I use the edges of humor to laugh through things as opposed to just being strict or mean. It's hard to explain, but if opportunities come up, we just laugh a lot. We have a lot of fun. We do.
How have you changed since becoming a mom?
I've had to work endlessly at being more and more organized because I'm definitely not a hugely organized person and the world moves at a very fast pace for me -- between emails and a million things you have to do for two children and my work life and my husband. Just trying to keep up with all that -- that's how I've kind of changed, but still always need to change more!
How do you see yourself in Eden and Savannah?
Oh my goodness, what a great question. I see the humor that I've brought to them. I see that coming back to me now, but in terms of who they are, they're both so different and I just see them as them. I don't really see me in them. I see some of the humor. I just feel like they're their own girls. And they're radically different.
How are they different?
One's a little more introverted, one's a little more extroverted. One loves to eat, one doesn't really want to eat. One always wants to wear shorts and blue, and the other's all girly and wants to wear my high heels. They're so much fun and so joyful to watch and just be with.
What's the funniest thing they've been doing lately?
There's this song that they know that is really cute, but it drives me crazy and it gets stuck in my head and I keep telling them, "This song gets stuck in my head." So now when they want to tease me, they'll start singing the song. It's so cute. It's adorable.
Do you think they understand the special bond of being twin sisters?
I'm not sure yet. I'd say in the next couple years they'll start to figure it out. They just know nothing different. That's just the way it is -- that's who (they've) been with morning, noon and night.
You brought Desperate Housewives home with you when you were pregnant, shooting scenes from your bedroom. How do you now balance motherhood and work?
I don't think you can look at it on a day-to-day basis because I might have a 14-hour day at work, so that's completely unbalanced in terms of seeing my kids and it's a ton of work. But then the next day I'll spend lots and lots of time with them. So I try to do it on an ongoing basis. If I've been working, then the next day I'll spend more time with the girls. And if I've been with the girls, then maybe I'll allow myself a little me time. It just depends how it's all going and that changes week to week.
Do you ever feel mommy guilt?
I think the minute any child is born that comes with it! I think it's just wrapped in a big bow right beside them. It never goes away.
Which Desperate Housewife are you most like in real life?
None of them, really. No, because Lynette's so organized and so with it and Gaby is just nothing like me, but she's so much fun. I'd be more like Susan.
Is there one thing you would like to do as Bree that you haven't?
I would like to see her in situations where she's just so out of her comfort zone, like skydiving or on a roller coaster. You know what I mean? I would like to see her pushed that way.
Like a "Bree Has Fun" episode.
Or maybe a few! Scuba diving. Just things that she's never allowed herself to do.
Will we ever see Bree having it nice and easy?
I doubt it. I would like that. It'd be great to have some fun. She should have a good time.
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