Katherine Heigl faced an ugly truth when she became a mother in 2009. A series regular on Grey's Anatomy at the time, the actress found it difficult to maintain any kind of work-life balance, and soon grew resentful of her hectic schedule.
"I would come home angry and frustrated that I'd missed everything with my kid that day," Heigl, 35, told Good Housekeeping of being a working mom after she and husband Josh Kelley adopted daughter Naleigh, now 5. "I didn't get to wake her up from her nap, or do bath time or bedtime. I'd have to sneak into her room and kiss her when she was sleeping, hoping not to wake her up."
Something had to go—and it wasn't her baby girl. "I felt like my priorities were messed up," the State of Affairs star admitted. "I was putting so much time and energy into just my work, but I was raised [to believe] that family comes first."
Heigl wanted her kids to grow up the way she had grown up; she even adopted Naleigh from South Korea because her parents had adopted her big sister Meg from there. "My family had its own unique look," she explained to Good Housekeeping. "And I wanted the one I began with my husband to have the same look, in a way."
Three years later, the 27 Dresses actress and her singer-songwriter love adopted another baby girl, Adalaide, from Louisiana. "We brought her home, and right away Naleigh was like a little mommy," Heigl recalled. "She'd say, 'No, no. You're not holding her right.' Or, 'She needs to eat again.' I'd be like, 'Would you back off? Just give me a minute!'"
By that time, Heigl had left Grey's Anatomy (amid much drama) and stepped back from her rom-com-heavy movie career. "Naleigh would go off to her ballet classes and other stuff, and I would sit with the baby at home," she shared. "I would read, and she would lie on my chest, and we'd lie on the couch with, like, four dogs, and watch Friday Night Lights. I found it so peaceful."
Now that her girls are a little older, though, Heigl is back to work. She'll return to TV this fall in NBC's State of Affairs, a CIA drama that has been widely touted as her comeback vehicle following several big-screen box-office disappointments and a slew of unflattering stories about her reputation for being "difficult."
The September issue of Good Housekeeping hits stands on Aug. 12.