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Kyra Sedgwick on Work, Family, and Empty Nests

The actress opens up about her long marriage, life as a working mom, and her new movie, 'The Possession.'

Kyra's Empty Nest

In her wistful but comfortable acceptance of her new, less-urgent role in her children's lives, Sedgwick reflects the reality of most parents after their nest empties, says Christine Proulx, PhD, an assistant professor in the human development and family studies department at the University of Missouri, whose research seems to demonstrate that the loneliness of the "empty nest" is largely a myth.

For a study published in the Journal of Family Issues, she interviewed 142 couples who were at the same stage of life as Sedgwick and Bacon -- watching the youngest of two or three children leaving home. A majority, she says, found themselves truly enjoying their changed roles.

"They liked the shift from always having to monitor their children day to day, to becoming more of a peer or mentor," says Proulx. "It was very fulfilling for the parents. I think many were surprised at the level of pleasure they derived from this new relationship with their children, as well as being able to spend more time with their spouse."

That's one thing Sedgwick plans to make the most of. She's said her heart still skips a beat when she sees Bacon enter a room -- or when he writes one of his many love songs for her (in addition to his famously versatile acting career, Bacon has a band with brother Michael; they released Philadelphia Road: The Best of the Bacon Brothers last month). "My favorite song he's written for me is 'Kikko's Song' -- my nickname is Kikko. 'Angelina' is another good one -- my other nickname is Angel. It's about me, not Angelina Jolie," she says, laughing. "The songs are so sweet."

Balancing Mothering and Work

Although the sweet-but-steely detective Brenda Leigh Johnson is the role that made her a household name, Sedgwick has worked steadily ever since she won a part on the soap opera Another World when she was just 16. When her kids were younger, she and Bacon had a rule not to work at the same time. Sedgwick averaged about a role per year in films like Singles, Phenomenon, and The Woodsman, but she was still very much a working mom -- and she's clear-eyed about the sacrifices that required.

"When I first had my kids, I thought, 'I really wish I was the person who could be happy and fulfilled only being a mom,'" she says. "But that's not me. I heard Meryl [Streep] talking the other day" -- and here she laughs at herself. "You know, 'Meryl, my friend' -- but we actually are friends! -- anyway, she was talking about how no one in her family likes her to go to work. It's true!"

Sedgwick says she won't pretend there aren't drawbacks to working when you're the mom of young children. "There's a great line in this movie [This Is My Life, released in 1992] with Julie Kavner, where she plays a single mom who is a comedian and starts to make it when her kids are like 10 and 14," Sedgwick says. "She comes back from a tour and they're furious at her for having left. Someone says, 'Oh, they don't really mean it -- they just want their mom to be happy.' She says, 'That's the biggest load of s***.  They'd rather have me in the next room wanting to commit suicide than happy on the road.'"

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