Busy Philipps' daughter is just one year away from becoming a teenager — and her mom is a little emotional.
In this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, the actress and host of the Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best podcast, 41, recalls her reaction to daughter Birdie Leigh's recent 12th birthday, which also served as a poignant fashion moment for the preteen.
"She asked for this really beautiful dress for her birthday," Philipps says of the strawberry-print gown. When it arrived a few days prior to Birdie's birthday, "she saw the package and she was like, 'I want to open it,' " Philipps recalls.
"At first I was being a weird mom [and saying], 'It's not your birthday. Wait until your birthday.' And then I was like, 'Why do I care? We're in an endless thing here, let's open the dress,' " Philipps says, referring to the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis and social-distancing measures.
After her daughter put on the dress, "we went out front and took pictures. It was just so cute," Philipps adds. "I did start to cry. I got teary."
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Retailing for $490 and created by designer Lirika Matoshi, the dress has notably inspired a variety of memes — and a hashtag with millions of views on TikTok. (There's even a matching face mask for $50!)
Matoshi chimed in on Philipps' Instagram post featuring Birdie wearing the dress, commenting, "Happy birthday to her! Also the strawberry dress! Omg! 🥰❤️"
While spending time at home with husband Marc Silverstein and their daughters (Birdie and her little sister Cricket Pearl, 7) amid the pandemic, Philipps admits her girls' "schedules have just been all over the place."
"They've been going to bed later than they would if they had stuff to do; kids aren't getting tired because they're not running around with friends all day," she tells PEOPLE. "I put Cricket to sleep around 8:30, hopefully by 9. Then I'll go say goodnight to Birdie. And she goes to bed whenever she goes to bed."
As for what that time is, "There's a really good chance that she will come into our room with some pressing question at 11:30," says the This Will Only Hurt a Little author. "She has definitely hit the preteen years of [being] a night owl. She stays up late. She prefers to sleep in."
But lately, Birdie has pitched in around the house in helping with dishes — and making her mom proud with her self-awareness and body autonomy at such a young age.
"I was taking photos of her … and she's like, 'I love this. It's so cute. Just send this to our family and you could [filter it to show] close friends on Instagram.' And I was like, 'Okay, sure. I would love to do that,' " Philipps recalls. "And she's like, 'Yeah, Mom. You gotta be careful with the pictures you post of me on Instagram because people just talk about my looks and they sexualize me. And I'm only 11 years old. That's really inappropriate and gross.' "
After posting previous photos of her daughter, Philipps noticed many of the comments "were just about her looks," says the former Dawson's Creek star. "I was like, 'If I post any photos of you in the future, do you want me to [turn] the comments off?' She's like, 'No, that's lame. I want people to change.' "
"I talk a big game about the things that motivate me and trying to raise my daughters in a certain way … it's just when you have those moments where you're like, 'Oh, I actually am doing it,' " she adds. "I could feel proud of all of us — of myself and my husband, Marc, and my kid. And how she's taken in the things that we've talked about and processed them. I was proud of everyone in that moment, myself included."
For more from Busy Philipps, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
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