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Michelle Monaghan Says ‘It’s Difficult to Manage’ a Work/Home Balance: ‘I Put My Tail Between My Legs a Lot’

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Moses Berkson

For Michelle Monaghan, the secret ingredient to happiness is to be able to laugh about life’s mishaps.

“It is such a nice quality both in children and adults,” The Path star, 41, said about having a sense of humor in an interview for Maisonette.com: a new children’s e-commerce site founded by former Vogue editors Luisana Mendoza and Sylvana Durrett.

Adds Monaghan, who is mom to son Tommy Francis, 3½, and daughter Willow Katherine, 8½, “It can also defuse any situation. If the house is trashed and I can’t deal, I will say, ‘Okay, let’s make Sunday ‘The Great Pajama Day.’ ”

“And that means I’m not worried about picking anything up,” continues the True Detective alum. “We just roll with it. When things get stressful and you feel overwhelmed, it is important to be able to laugh about it, and most importantly to be able to laugh at yourself.”

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Moses Berkson

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The actress admits she’s “very proud” in watching her kids “develop a sense of humor” that’s similar to hers and husband Peter White‘s.

“I really take pride in that because I sort of see the imprint that we have on them as parents – that one is positive, but that’s not to say we don’t have some negative imprints on them as well! But that one really warms my heart,” Monaghan explains.

Something else she is extremely proud of? Watching her little girl’s confidence blossom, in a way even her entertainer mom confesses to struggling with.

“It’s little things, like when my daughter gets up in her classroom and presents something to the whole group. I am an adult – and an actress! — and that kind of thing still gives me anxiety,” Monaghan shares. “So just to see that confidence begin to flourish, I look at her with such pride and I just want to encourage her.”

Moses Berkson

The advice the star tries to give herself regularly is “to be in the present as much as possible” — which is something she knows she isn’t the only parent to find challenging.

“We all have so many responsibilities outside of our family lives, and it is so difficult to manage that balance at times. I know how difficult it can be! I am not gonna lie, I put my tail between my legs a lot,” Monaghan says.

“This morning, I was working on a new script when I heard my husband tell my son I would play catch with him,” she continues. “And my son said, ‘Mommy can’t. She’s busy.’ He could tell how focused I was on my work. And that broke my heart. I closed the script and we started to play.”

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The Patriots Day actress says costar Kevin Bacon imparted some “great parenting advice” on her, about six weeks after Willow was born.

“We were getting to know each other and I told him my husband and I were really in the thick of it, sleepless nights, exhaustion, the whole thing. And he said to me: ‘This too shall pass.’ And it did,” Monaghan remembers.

“But what he also meant was to treasure every moment. Not to worry about when they’d be potty-trained, but to focus on every step along the way. I always wanted to tell Kevin how impactful that advice was. And I finally got the chance – we recently did a film together,” she adds.

“When I finally saw him, he had actually just written a song to his daughter who was going off to college. And of course, he called it, ‘This Too Shall Pass.’ ”

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Monaghan loves dressing to match her daughter — “it makes me smile,” she admits — but she says Willow wears a lot of Monaghan’s old clothes, as well as her own mother’s and grandmother’s.

And while some of the biggest lessons Monaghan wants to pass on to her own children are “a sense compassion” and the golden rule, the proudest moment the mom of two has had as a parent so far was right at the beginning of her journey.

“Just having children, honestly, just going through labor!” she says. “I think every mom will admit that there is such a fear the first time, like, ‘How am I going to get this thing out of my body?’ ”

“And you live with that for nine months and then you experience the miracle of giving birth, and that you did it! And you think, ‘I made a baby and then gave birth to it!’ “