In an extended interview appearing in the June issue of Redbook, Patrick Dempsey opens up about all facets of his life — from the surprise revival of his acting career, to the ups and downs of his nearly 8-year marriage to beauty entrepreneur Jillian, to "having the best of both worlds" in daughter Talula, 5, and 3-month-old twin boys Darby and Sullivan. For Patrick, the goal each day as a parent is simply to be present for his children.
I don’t like the notion of turning on the TV and walking away … I’m not perfect — some days you have to do that. Or you have a project. My wife is very good about the art projects and things like that to keep Talula entertained. But now, with the boys it’s going to be different. I don’t know how to do a three-on-two.
On finding out the sexes of each child: Yeah, we knew both times. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to prepare myself mentally. With Talula, I initially thought I wanted a boy, and then I was really happy that I got a girl. So now I’ve got the best of both worlds.
On boys vs. girls: It’s such a different game. Sullivan is a little colicky, so that’s awful. I can’t look at the pain on his face — it drives me crazy. They’re quieter too. They suffer quietly. When my daughter was colicky, she would scream for hours on end. Boys are just different. You have to reeducate yourself as a parent.
On bonding with a newborn: I’ve learned that the bonding comes in waves; it’s incremental. I think most men are freaked out by that because they’re expecting it to be immediate. With a mother, it’s almost immediate. But it’s okay to take the time to bond with your child. It’s going to take 12 months before you start to get into this relationship.
Continue reading for more highlights of Patrick’s interview…
On becoming a parent later in life, and balancing three kids with two successful careers: My biggest concern is making sure I have enough time to give equally to all three children. And with the schedule I’m keeping right now, that’s very hard. I’ve been spending more time with Talula, because obviously the mother spends the most amount of time with the newborns. It’s interesting having children later in life. We’ve sort of gone and slayed our dragons, and my wife was adamant about having more kids. But I said, ‘To do that, someone is going to have to stay home. We’re going to have to have help.’ And she said okay.
On his evolving love for Jillian: She’s been an amazing mother and just constantly blows me away, and I love that. The longer you stay in the marriage and you sort of go through your things and this time in general, to see her growth as a woman has been unbelievable…I think the addition to the family has been a great thing for all of us. Just psychologically, in general, we’re happier…Her connection, a woman’s connection with boys is different than with a daughter. It is a whole different blossoming of energy.
On what he is most looking forward to experiencing with the twins: Sports, skiing, cycling. That’s the great thing about my daughter now. She’s a great buddy. We go cycling; we can do that. We can have great conversations. I’m a few years out with the boys. I waited to have kids later in life, so my physical prowess is waning, but I’ve got to stay in shape for them — so they can’t kick my ass at 3-years-old.
On being challenged by children: That’s the fun thing. My daughter is really into planets this week. She asked ‘What is Mars?’ And I said, ‘Well, let’s look up Mars.’ Kids are amazing. They take you outside your comfort level because you ask yourself, ‘How do I answer that question for them?’ You think back to your childhood and it’s like ‘I don’t want to give them that. I want to give them this.’ My life is my kids.