Jennifer Garner Has a Message for Mean Moms

Jennifer Garner CJ AdamsJennifer Garner has finally learned the great secret about motherhood. The celebrity mom to Violet, Seraphina, and baby Samuel is starring in The Odd Life of Timothy Green these days. It's the family movie Disney hopes will get moms and kids into theaters this week, and it's one Garner says taught her a few things about being a mom too.

Good news! She's willing to share. The female half of one of Hollywood's best loved parenting couples (she's married, of course, to sexy Ben Affleck) took some time to tell The Stir how much of her character, nervous new mom Cindy Green, really comes from her life, and how she's learned to put an end to the self-hating trap moms get caught in and be a little nicer ... to herself.

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This is Garner's first movie role as a mom, and soon after filming wrapped up, she became pregnant with her delicious little boy. But she says she has been pregnant on set before, and it wasn't pretty:

I've done it before, and believe me, it is brutal, but there is something about whenever you're concentrating so hard on a scene, it kind of makes morning sickness go away for awhile. Not go away, but you're focused on something else. But when it comes back, it comes ROARING back!

On tackling infertility onscreen:

I just worried about it from a very personal place. I have so many friends who have struggled, who are in the middle of struggling, who are on the other side and feel like they're done with all the frustration and the heartbreak of it. I also know some amazing success stories as well. I took very seriously the beginning of the movie where my character is infertile and has been told you absolutely cannot have children and just tried to treat it as respectfully as I could ... and hope that my friends would find some truth to it. 

On being a mom at work:

Once you have kids, it's part of who you are. So if I had been playing an axe murderer, I'd be playing an axe murderer from a different perspective than I would have seven years ago, from time, from kids, from life.

To play a parent and be so in the thick of parenthood and contemplating going through it again -- which we did end up doing obviously -- it was impossible for it not to, a lot of it did come from me. I improvised a lot, I played around a lot. That was very easy to do on this film.

On parenting other people's kids:

Well, of course on the set I would hand him back at the end of the night! But I really loved [Odd Life actor] CJ [Adams] and it just kind of reminded me ... there's this thing in taking care of another person, whether it's a baby or a classroom full of kids or an older person or a kitten. You fall for them. They don't have to be your own.

We really became a family as time went on ... [co-star] Joel [Edgerton] would try to jolly him up and make sure he stayed happy, and I would make sure that he had snacks and potty breaks and did he need his mom, should we speed it up so he could go home?

On how motherhood changes with each kid:

The first-time mom stuff, I do remember having a diaper bag that was so loaded down that you couldn't even look through it to find anything. I had every possible kind of diaper cream and every possible kind of change of clothes even though I was just going out in Los Angeles, which is the same all year long. Cindy does the same kind of thing with her son's backpack on the first day of school.

On ignoring the critics (even when that's you):

It is nice to look at yourself and realize, I did figure this out! It's also nice because you're still a first-time mom with your first. Maybe my first isn't a baby anymore, but I still have to learn all this stuff with her as a first-grader now and as a 7-year-old and then an 8-year-old.

It reminds me to be a little more gentle with yourself, to not judge yourself so much, you are where you are, you're OK. If you love your kids, they're going to be alright. You let them teach you and you do your best to teach them.

We all turned out OK! I have to believe that I can raise these kids. I have to believe it!

Are you hard on yourself as a mom? What do you do to remind yourself you can do this?

 

Image via Walt Disney

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