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Parenting

25 Honest Quotes About Motherhood From Jennifer Garner

The actress has three kids -- Violet, Seraphina and Samuel -- with her ex-husband, Ben Affleck.

Jennifer Garner is incredibly open about her parenting experience.

The actress and her ex-husband, Ben Affleck, have three children ― Violet, Seraphina and Samuel. Since becoming a mom in 2005, Garner has spoken honestly about a range of topics, from work-life balance to lice outbreaks to co-parenting after divorce.

In honor of her birthday, here are 25 honest quotes about motherhood from Garner.

On The Best Part Of Parenting

“The absolute [greatest] thing about being a parent is that every day is a fresh start. You always can say, ‘Today we’re going to try this!’ And if it goes horribly, you can say, ‘Today we’re throwing that out, and we’re trying this!’ That’s part of what I like about being a mom in general.”

On Balancing Work And Family

“There’s an internal battle. I need to work, I need to work, I need to work and I need to be home with my kids and the kids win. It’s about getting the kids up and fed, getting one to school, getting the other down for a nap, going to the grocery store, picking one up from school, getting the other one down for another nap, cooking dinner ... I live my life at these two extremes. I’m either a full-time stay-at-home mom or a full-time actress.”

On The Moms Who Feel A Kinship With Her

“While I find it very kind, and I love that women who have kids relate to me, I find that I am by far the messiest, sloppiest, craziest! All the moms I ever see always look very put together and I just don’t get it. I don’t see how they do it! But then again, I would look that way if I didn’t have kids, too, probably.”

On Her ‘Bump’

“I am not pregnant. But I’ve had three kids, and there is a ‘bump.’ From now on, ladies, I will have a ‘bump,’ and it will be my ‘baby bump,’ and let’s just all settle in and get used to it. It’s not going anywhere.”

Garner with her children at her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Aug. 2018. 
Garner with her children at her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Aug. 2018. 

On Co-Parenting

“It’s not Ben’s job to make me happy. The main thing is these kids ― and we’re completely in line with what we hope for them. Sure, I lost the dream of dancing with my husband at my daughter’s wedding. But you should see their faces when he walks through the door. And if you see your kids love someone so purely and wholly, then you’re going to be friends with that person.”

On Parenting In The Digital Age

“We just had back to school night, and I said afterwards, ‘Do they need a computer?’ They need some kind of device or computer to complete their homework. Our daughter doesn’t have any of those things, and she’s, like, the only kid in the class who doesn’t, apparently. So I found an old laptop this weekend for her, and I am kind of panicked about it. She’s not on social media yet — her school has a no social media policy until 6th grade — but I know it’s coming soon.”

On Her Dance Mom Dreams

“I danced six hours a day. My cross to bear is that my children have no interest in ballet. I think they could smell how much I wanted to put their hair in a bun.”

On Teaching Emotional Intelligence

“Our kids need to be allowed to have a bad day. And you need to show them that it’s OK to have the whole range of emotions. You should have it all: rage and anger and sadness, so there is a lot of room for joy and happiness as well.”

On Trying To Appease Her Kids

“You’ll never need coffee more than the day after ‘Yes Day!’

On Quality Time

“There are lots of little traditions the kids and I have together. Right now our blueberry bushes are going nuts, so we sneak down and pick blueberries together on the weekends. But my most valuable time with the kids is bedtime— I have different books going with each of my kids and they each get their own time [with me], even if it has to be condensed!”

Garner and Violet attended a Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing in March 2015. 
Garner and Violet attended a Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing in March 2015. 

On The Reality Of Parenting

“As much as you think that, ’OK, I’m going to follow what this person says, I’m going to follow what that person says, I’m going to read this book and I’m going to have this birth plan. It’s not up to you, dude ... I did it all, but it doesn’t matter. Let it go, don’t worry about it. You’re going to struggle. It’s going to suck just like for everyone else.”

On Pregnancy Weight

“I wish I was one of those cute pregnant girls who wear skinny jeans throughout their pregnancies. But I just gain weight. I’m trying really hard to be mindful, but when I’m making the kids mac and cheese, I want it badly.”

On Her Mom Squad

“I have a couple of celebrity mom friends that I go to for certain things that only they can — only we can talk about! But mostly I talk to my friends, my mom friends from Violet’s school. And we just gab away like anyone. But pretty much I hang up from one mom friend and call another.”

On Teaching Values

“I think teaching your kids anything is a lifelong job and certainly values are something ― you can’t just say, ‘Here, have values!’ You have to show them that you have values. The most important thing is just modeling at this age. When they’re older, they’ll hopefully travel with us and go to places and be boots on the ground, but for right now, it’s just really important to both of us that they see and appreciate the work we do.”

On Picky Eaters

“There are plenty of healthy foods my kids don’t like! I have typical picky eaters, for sure. I would say we’re in the camp of not mixing flavors and textures more than we are picky about specific foods. I was the pickiest kid ever when I was little, so I try to stay calm when they turn down something I know they would love — but I’m not always successful.”

Garner with her extended family at her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.
Garner with her extended family at her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.

On Tantrums

“You treat them like real kids. They have boundaries and they have rules and they throw fits. My littlest one saw something he wanted. I had just said, ‘We’re not buying anything,’ and he threw a fit. The people at the store said to me, ‘Please let us just give this to you’ because he was so unhappy. And I said, ‘I’m sorry that he’s throwing a fit in your store and you’re so sweet to want to give this to him. And thank you for asking me first. But he’s going to have to throw a fit.’ I said no. No is no. I said to my girls, ’What do I mean when I say no?’ And they were like, ‘She really means no!’ So you just have to do it. It’s not pretty. I don’t think that I’m always the best at it, but I try my best to be consistent and for them to know what they can expect from me.”

On Mommy Wars

“I will tell you what I can’t abide ― and I think the internet has really created a space for it ― women criticizing other women and mothers criticizing other mothers. It just makes me crazy, whether it’s between staying at home, going to work, how long you breastfeed, if you use formula. I feel like we should just assume everyone is doing the best they can. Women should take care of each other, not tear each other down. I would just like to see a mother who really believes that she has done it all so right, you know what I mean?”

On Lice

“You could get the call. It is coming your way ... Does it happen? Yes. Stars are just like us. We all got lice. It’s making me itchy just to talk about it.”

On Chaperoning

“Taking a Girl Scout to pee at 4 a.m. is love.”

On Portraying Mothers In Movies

“I’m really glad that I’m playing moms, because there’s no more rich time in women’s lives than when you have your babies, and when you’re trying to figure out how to parent them and balance everything, and the emotional weight of seeing your children struggle, or whatever it is.”

On Postpartum Skin

I’ve had more acne as an adult than I had as a teenager. After weaning babies my skin’s gone totally bonkers. I didn’t even know about dermatologists until I had weaned my first baby, and my skin was so damaged. It was just beyond. And then I realized, there’s a whole doctor who can help you with this ... And also, I get red patches and it’s sensitive to certain things like stress and lack of sleep.

On Being Available

“They need you to focus, and they need your attention, and you never know when they are going to drop some nugget of insight into their brains that you have been waiting for. It’s like when they were babies, and you knew they needed to burp, but they just wouldn’t. You want to say to them, ‘You would be so much happier if you would just burp!’ It’s the same when I am waiting for my kids to say something I know is bothering them. The trick now is just to be available — and in a chill way — to receive it when they finally do. I give it all I can.”

On Modeling Good Behavior

“I don’t think empathy is something you can drill in someone’s head. You have to have faith that while your kids can seem to be selfish and concerned only about the word ‘mine’ sometimes, overall, they are watching you really carefully, and if you care about other people, they will too ... I try to be the best version of myself and to have faith that they’re watching me as carefully when I do something right as they do when I roll through a stop sign.”

On Bedtime

“I try to make bedtime sacred, to have some alone time with each kid every night, when it is possible ... except for the nights when it’s not possible. I work, and I have a job that means that sometimes I have to go out at night, and sometimes I need to go out at night just for me.”

On Raising Grounded Kids

“It’s really important for my kids to see that everyone doesn’t have the lives they see in Los Angeles. That doesn’t reflect the rest of the world. I want them to grow up with the Southern values I had ― to look at people when they say hello and to stop and smell the roses. If I could do half as good a job as my mom did, I’d be pretty happy.”