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NZ New Idea

19 January 2002

"I've Always Wanted Three Children"

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The most fearless woman on TV, former Xena star Lucy Lawless, is taking a really scary step. Kiwi actress Lucy is preparing to become a mum for the third time, putting her high-flying career on hold as she fulfils a long-held dream.

Wed to millionaire Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules producer Rob Tapert, 46 - with whom she has a two-year-old son, Julius - Lucy is adding another child to her family, which already includes Daisy, 13. 'I have always wanted three children. I don't know why three, but it sounds like a great number to me,' announces Lucy, 33, who became pregnant by first husband, bar manager Garth Lawless when she was a 19-year-old hitch-hiker, backpacking round Europe.

'I must be mad because I have my hands full already!' she laughs. 'I've got this beautiful daughter who's 13 and experiencing all the joys and horrors of being in those early teen years, and I have a boy who's a terrible two-year-old.

'He's so funny and so cute that I don't get horribly angry with him, but he's so naughty. He's like a tank. I should have called him Sherman instead of Julius. I rue the day that I called him something imperial like Julius because he's like Julius, Destroyer of Nations. This nice Rookwood vase... bang!

'He just makes me laugh, because what do I care about antiques? But, yeah, Destroyer of Antiques.

She had already hinted in interviews that she would welcome a third child. 'You know, they come along when they come along,' she would smile. She had already ruled out a Xena comeback.

'No, I'm much too old now. But I've always said I'd love to do two movies a year and raise my kids. I'm doing everything I can to help myself. I'm having a good life.

'It doesn't matter what happens by the time I'm 80 or 90, but I think I'll look back and go, "Yeah, I really went for it. I didn't let myself down. I wasn't afraid to try and fail".'

Despite her ambitions, Lucy puts family above everything. 'I know that one day I'll be on my death bed, and I will look back on my life and know the best thing I ever did was raise my kids.
'And when that day comes, I know I would kick myself for the time I spent away from my children. For family and health reasons, I am not prepared to sacrifice everything for a job."

'You can't put a price on time spent with your children. That time is irreplaceable and precious.

'As an actress, it's always painful to turn down offers, but shit! I couldn't accept anything that involved being parted from my kids for any stretch of time.

'Work is the second most important thing to me. I know I've made a bundle of money, but that's not everything. I wouldn't be a happy old lady if I hadn't spent precious time with my daughter Daisy and son, Julius, while they were growing up, or if I lost my partner.

'My kids come first. It's not that I'm naturally such a great mother, but it will be my everlasting regret if I don't pay as much attention to them as I could.

'I've been through a lot of changes in my life, and I love the fact I've got children who need me. These days I'm looking for a different type of life.'

Lucy admits she relished the experience of doing things differently with Julius.

'With Daisy, I was pregnant when I was a teenager and really didn't have a clue what I was getting into. We raised her in an idealistic and naive way for the first few years. She was like the third leg of a triumvirate.

'We wanted her to have a say in everything. But children need to have boundaries and it's confusing to them when they are given too many options.

'Setting boundaries and rules frees them up to be just kids rather than constantly being forced to make choices. It's not right to force a child to take responsibility or make decisions
at such a young age. It Weighs very heavily on their shoulders.

'My attitudes have changed greatly over the years,' says Lucy, who became a single parent after her seven-year marriage ended in divorce in 1995. She remains on good terms with her ex-husband for the sake of their daughter.

There's a great deal of love between father and daughter but Daisy also shares a strong bond with her new American step-dad. 'I'm so very grateful that Daisy gets on well with Rob. That can always be a touchy situation with children. 'But they hit it off from the first moment I introduced them three years ago.'

By Gill Pringle

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