The 45-year-old actress covers Women's Health's May 2019 issue and, in the accompanying interview, talks about her life with Gosling -- whom she began dating in 2011 -- and their two daughters, 4-year-old Esmeralda and 2-year-old Amada. She says she never thought about being a mother until she began dating Gosling.
"It was the furthest thing from my mind," she says.
"Ryan Gosling happened," she continues when asked what changed. "I mean, falling in love with him. Then it made sense for me to have… not kids, but his kids. It was very specific to him."
Mendes later talks about 38-year-old Gosling giving her a sweet shout-out when he won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his role in La La Land, calling her "sweetheart" and thanking her for raising their children while he was focusing on filming the movie. He also emotionally praised her for helping her late brother, Juan Carlos Mendez, during his battle with cancer. Mendez died of throat cancer at the age of 53 in April 2016.
Mendes didn't attend the ceremony, and watched from home with their daughters.
"It was like a dream," Mendes gushes. "But really, what I heard was that he said my brother’s name. It was the most beautiful gesture, and I had no idea Ryan was going to say it. Losing my brother was incredibly difficult."
Mendes also acknowledges that raising two young daughters isn't easy, especially living in the spotlight and having to go to great lengths to avoid paparazzi.
"It's definitely a concern," she says. "Not only are we in the industry, but the whole fame component is super scary when you try to raise your kids."
"What I try to emphasize is that I don't let them see me put attention to how I dress," she continues about how she deals with her kids being exposed to the industry. "They've never seen me get ready for something; they've never seen me at work. Which is fine, for whoever wants to do it that way, but the way I keep it normal is by not letting them see me in these situations. I'm just Mom. And I'm more than happy to just be Mom."
These days, Mendes admits she is more focused on being a mom than her career in Hollywood.
"I felt a lack of ambition, if I can be honest," she says about what changed when her first child was born. "I feel more ambitious in the home right now than I do in the workplace."