01/02/2008 at 03:00 PM EST
The career was important, and so were her romantic relationships, but Diane Keaton, now says being a mother beats everything else.
"I've had such an unusual life. Obviously career-oriented. I was happy to be a daughter well into my 40s. That was something that meant a lot to me," the Annie Hall
Oscar winner and current costar (with Katie Holmes
and Queen Latifah) in the new Mad Money
, tells Ladies' Home Journal
for its February issue. "I didn't think that I was ever going to be prepared to be a mother."
Keaton, who in the '70s and '80s was seriously involved with Woody Allen and then with Warren Beatty, originally thought she'd wait until she was in a "strong and substantive" domestic partnership before becoming a parent.
"I wanted to be in a good relationship. Those good relationships that are strong and substantive never happened for me, and that prolonged my indecisiveness," says Keaton, who turns 62 on Saturday.
Besides, she says, "Motherhood was not an urge I couldn't resist, it was more like a thought I'd been thinking for a very long time," she tells the magazine, the Associated Press reports. "So I plunged in."
That meant adopting daughter Dexter, now 12, in 1996, and then son Duke, who is 7, in 2001.
And just what kind of mother is she? "I like to take them to school in my bare feet," she admits, which prompts her kids to ask her, "Can't you be normal, lady?"