How Cameron Diaz's Views on Motherhood Have Evolved

How Cameron Diaz's Views on Motherhood Have Evolved
Cameron Diaz
Mike Marsland/WireImage

07/04/2014 AT 07:25 AM EDT

Cameron Diaz's comments about her choice to not have children – in August's Esquire – had many readers applauding her refreshingly candid attitude. But the Sex Tape star wasn't always so sure she didn't want to start a family.

How did Diaz, 41, decide kids aren't in the cards for her? PEOPLE looks back at the actress's views over the years on modern motherhood and why she values her independence.

It's All About Timing

While dating Justin Timberlake, Diaz fielded questions about taking their four-year relationship to the next level.

"I think everybody wants at some point to have that responsibility and involvement," she told PEOPLE in 2006. "But not at the moment."

The next year, she sounded more open to parenthood while answering a reader's question, responding, "Family is very important to me in every sense. I definitely hope to have that gift in my life one day."

Never Say Never

After reportedly splitting from British actor Paul Sculfor, Diaz told Cosmopolitan U.K. that she wasn't making any definitive decisions about her future.

"I never say never. I don't know what's going to happen," she said. "I could end up adopting half a dozen kids, or I could end up being the next 'octomom' – who fricking knows!"

Still, she called out society for putting pressure on women to have kids, explaining that being a mom isn't for everyone.

"I think women are afraid to say that they don't want children because they're going to get shunned. But I think that's changing too now," she said. "I have more girlfriends who don't have kids than those that do. And honestly? We don't need any more kids. We have plenty of people on this planet."

A Doting Aunt

Diaz's older sister, Chimene, has three children, and the Body Book author loves to dote on her nieces and nephews. Still, she told InStyle in July 2010 that being a mother is another story.

"I can be a pretty good aunt, but whether I'm a good aunt or a crappy aunt is really not remotely the same question as me being a good parent or a crappy parent," she said. "It doesn't quite have the same impact."

She continued: "Having children changes your life drastically, and I really love my life. Children aren't the only things that bring you gratification and happiness, and it's easier to give life than to give love, so I don't know. That kind of change would have to be either very well thought out, or a total mistake – a real oops!"

'I Am Not Sitting Here Feeling Empty'

While promoting the ensemble mommy movie What to Expect When You're Expecting in May 2012, Diaz did a number of interviews about why she wasn't rushing to have a baby. Though she mentioned adoption, she remained frank and laid-back about the prospect of motherhood.

"If one day, I am blessed with the experience of having a child, I would be overjoyed, but I am not sitting here feeling empty because I haven't yet, or that I may not," she said in Harper's Bazaar U.K.

In Redbook, she got frank about her early expectations: "I thought I was going to be married and have two children by the time I was 21. I think I felt I had to model my life after my mother's. But then my career was starting to take off and there were still so many things I wanted to do. So that dream for me was shattered early on. After that I never put another time line on anything in my life."

During an appearance on Chelsea Lately, Diaz opened up about the possibilities beyond giving birth, saying, "I just never have been in the place where I was like, 'Right now is the time I'm supposed to have a baby.' But I do want to have a family eventually, however that comes to me. Whether it's through adoption, or somehow …"

And in an InStyle article, she said she'd consider having children – one day.

"Society definitely puts pressure on women to make them think their lives should go a certain way. I've never said I don't want children – I just haven't had children yet," she said. "I don't know what's going to happen in my life!"

Her Views Today

"If I wanted kids, at any point in life, I would have them," Diaz told The Telegraph in April. "But I'm certain that if at any point I wanted a child, that child would find its way into my life, whether through adoption, or through being in a relationship with somebody who has a child. I can't see the future, but one thing I do know is that I'm not childless. I have a ton of children in my life. I can have a kid any second, if I want. All my friends would be like, 'Sure, come and get them.'"

But in Esquire's August cover story about her loving her life in her 40s, Diaz – who is dating Good Charlotte rocker Benji Madden – seemed more comfortable with the idea of never having kids.

"It's so much more work to have children," she said. "To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for – I didn't take that on. ... A baby – that's all day, every day for 18 years. Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn't make it an easy decision. I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother."

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