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Jennifer Garner Dishes on Sweet Sera

04/21/2009 at 06:00 PM ET
Courtesy InStyle

In the cover story for the May issue of InStyle, mom-of-two Jennifer Garner offers a glimpse at what life is like behind closed doors for her famous family of four; what she depicts is not at all unlike that which plays out daily for moms everywhere, however. The 37-year-old actress says it’s the “morning combo” of nursing 3-month-old Seraphina Rose Elizabeth and readying 3-year-old Violet Anne for preschool which proves to be the biggest challenge. Husband Ben Affleck “will do the school run” and pitches in elsewhere as-needed, but his handiwork is easy to spot, Jennifer reveals!

“He dresses [Violet] and does her hair. It’s pretty funny. You can always tell when he has been at it, just two random barrettes hanging in there. It’s so sweet.”

Nighttime can be just as hectic. “Violet wanted me to rock her,” Jennifer explains of the evening before. “The baby was ready to nurse. Ben was doing something or other and trying to have a conversation with me in the middle of the night for some reason.” Needless to say sleep has been hard to come by since Sera, as they call her, arrived but the couple are savoring every moment with their latest addition. Jennifer seems particularly smitten. “I’m so sure of her sweetness as a person,” the Ghosts of Girlfriends Past star says. “We’ve only known her for a few months, but she’s taught me that there’s an innate goodness in people that’s real, and it’s there from birth.” Violet has also had a profound impact on her mom; Jennifer credits her older daughter with teaching her “to slow down and appreciate things.”

“Once, when she was 6-months-old, I was nursing her and kind of in a hurry. I was impatient, and she was really taking her time, just staring at the ceiling. So I looked up, and the way the light was playing on the ceiling was so beautiful. I wouldn’t have noticed that on my own.”

Click below to find out who Jennifer’s celebrity mom role model is.

As it does whenever an only child becomes a big sibling, the dynamic in the house has been irrevocably changed. “At first, it’s weird to give up that singular relationship with your firstborn,” she admits. “You want to have that relationship with your second.” Making the adjustment — something Jen refers to as “switching your mind over” — doesn’t happen overnight, either.

“The other day Ben said ‘she’ about taking care of the kids, and I said, ‘No, it’s ‘they.’ We have two of them now.’ It’s a great thing that happens, the exponential growth between child and parents.”

Fortunately, Violet has enjoyed an “amazing” transition to her new role and even played a part in selecting her sister’s name. Jennifer and Ben hadn’t decided on a moniker when she entered the hospital to deliver, but Violet had already voiced her approval of the name ‘Sarah.’ “When the baby was born, she was so angelic,” Jennifer recalls. “Seraphina means angel, and it exists in several languages. It’s Hebrew, but it’s found in many cultures — which we liked.” Even though the girls peacefully co-exist, Jennifer says she still struggles to reconcile the demands of a newborn with the demands of a toddler.

“[Violet] has the normal 3-year-old meltdowns. When you’re breastfeeding one and the other is crying, you think, ‘Huh…I don’t know what to do.’”

With two bonafide superstars for parents, Violet and Sera are no strangers to the prying eyes of the paparazzi. “I try not to look, but when I see these pictures of Violet and me, I’m always smiling like a monkey, trying not to let her feel my anxiety,” Jennifer explains. Now that Violet is of an age to see past that façade, she’s “more able to articulate that she doesn’t like it” — but her protestations often fall on deaf ears.

“She’ll say to them, ‘Please stop flashing your camera in my face,’ but they won’t stop. Then she’ll say, ‘I don’t understand, Mommy. I said please!’ It’s just twisted.”

Jennifer says that good friend Reese Witherspoon — Academy Award-winning actress and mom to Ava Elizabeth, 9 ½, and Deacon Reese, 5 ½ – is her role model when it comes to juggling career and family. “I feel like she does a really good job,” Jennifer says. When she’s not working, Jennifer stays completely focused on Ben and their girls. “I growl at anyone who wants me to do something while I’m with my kids,” she admits. “I say, ‘No I’m at home, back off!’” Once she is on set, however, Jennifer snaps into “work mode” — and Ben takes over at home. “We’ve tried really hard to switch off,” she explains.

“So far it’s working. I’ve chosen jobs that weren’t as demanding as some can be.”

One thing Jennifer says she won’t demand of herself is an unnatural, accelerated return to her pre-baby size. Six weeks after Sera’s birth, she needed to undergo a fitting for re-shoots of the film This Side of the Truth. The costumers who visited her home “were just tripping over baby stuff left and right,” Jennifer recalls. “There wasn’t a square foot of floor that didn’t have baby gear on it.” They had their work cut out for them in more ways than one! Jennifer weighed 20 pounds more than she did when the film — due out in September — was originally shot, but if she was nervous about the baby weight issue, she isn’t showing it.

“It is what it is. I would think I looked appropriate for someone who had a baby six weeks before. What am I going to do, not eat?”

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past — co-starring Matthew McConaughey — hits theaters May 1st.

Source: InStyle; May issue

– Missy

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Showing 52 comments

Lilliness on

I totally love this girl! When I read her interviews its like I just had a conversation with a good friend! Violet and Sera are so lucky to have such a wonderful mother (and father too!)

Jess on

I LOVE Jennifer Garner. She always seems so down to earth. And good for her for not worrying about losing the baby weight. She doesn’t need to, nor do most other celeb mommies out there. It’s SO refreshing to see one celeb mom who endorses treating their body like nature intended, instead of dropping off all of the weight in two weeks, and starving themselves. She’s setting wonderful examples for her little ones already. On another note, how horrible about Vi and the paps! They really need to back off. It isn’t even nice anymore.

Megan on

I love this family, I simply do. I love everything about them. I love Jen’s take on things, I love how completely down to earth both she and Ben are…I adore those precious girls! I love that Vi had a little say in the naming of her sister, how sweet is that! And in the same way that Reese is an inspiration to Jen, I would go so far as to say Jen is an inspiration to a lot of moms too =)) And the story about Ben doing Vi’s hair–that is just too sweet–and we’ve all seen those pics–and we knew he’d done it…haha I LOVE IT! ADORE the Garner-Afflecks!

cas on

such a sweet mom

Kayla on

OMG!!I love Violet, “Mommy I said please.” she is to cute. When the child asks the paps to stop they really should. Don’t they know its obviously scaring the poor kid…..

Lori on

I love her! What a real, honest-to-goodness person!

Cheyane on

This is my favorite celebrity family. They are sooo down to earth and are like a regular family who you would go over and let your kids play and have fun. I also love that Jen isn’t stressing about losing all the baby weight so quickly b/c I don’t think its healthy to just have a baby and then all of a sudden lose it all and overwork your body. I can’t wait to see a really good pic of Seraphina…I saw a side view and she looks a lot of Violet from that angle.

Mrs. R. on

Thank goodness for a grounded perspective from the celeb mommy set. No “I’m breastfeeding and eating right” BS for a ridiculously quick post partum weight loss.
It’s nice that she and Ben work together, but that she’s willing to share the humanness of their family – that they both have flawed moments.

Amanda on

a really beautiful interview!!! she seems like a wonderful mommy.

Jasmine C. on

Good for her! Not letting the stereotypes and media dictate when she should lose the baby weight.. Right On Jen..I feel terribly about the paparazzi in Violets face like that. She even tells them to go away!

Sarah K. on

I just love all of them. Jen seems so down to earth and realistic. I loved the quote- “What am I going to do? Not eat?” It’s good that she’s not letting Hollywood pressure her into losing the weight at an unnatural pace.

Also, good for CBB for no longer posting papparazzi pics of Violet. As much as I love seeing pictures of her, it’s better that she grow up with some normalcy. It is pretty twisted that a child is asking for these people to leave her alone and they won’t.

alice jane on

I love her! She is one of the few celebrities who feel relatable, in my opinion. And I think Seraphina is a beautiful name, but I think Sera is an especially beautiful nickname. I think Sarah/Sara is a really nice name already, though it’s pretty common… Just the different spelling of Sera gives it a really unique, pretty twist.

It’s awful that the paparazzi are so desperate for a picture that they’ll ignore the fact that they’re scaring a 3 year old. It would be one thing if they were using long-lense cameras and were taking the picture from a distance, but that apparently is not the case here.

Emaline on

I had no idea she was 37! She looks (and speaks) as if she’s barely 30. I like that they call her ‘Sera’, finally a normal celebrity baby name. Hope their marriage is doing well!

Chelsea on

What a great interview! I love this family! I adore the nickname “Sera”! Both Ben and Jen seem like grounded people who make great parents.

Stephany on

I love the nickname Sera. It’s beautiful. :)

And I loved the interview. Jennifer is a celebrity mom that I would love to meet. She seems to down-to-earth and sweet. Although I miss those daily photos of Violet, I completely understand. I look forward to seeing some photos of little Sera!

theyearofasking on

jen was amazing in juno and 13 going on 30. and i will definitely be seeing her new movie. but after reading this, i love her even more. she has such a great and admirable level of appreciation for her children as people that it’s hard not to be impressed!

Colleen on

I saw a photo awhile back of Jen bending over, it was unflattering in a way so I’m glad CBB didn’t post it. However, Jen was wearing holey undies! It was so “normal mom” of her, I loved it.

Meg on

I love the nickname; I feel like it’s more unique to Sarah/Sara, like it would be pronounced Seh-ruh as compared to Sare-ruh. And Jennifer… I just love her! She always seems like she hasn’t let Hollywood get to her. What a great family.

Heather on

I just read that article today! Something interesting from it; I never knew Violet was named after Jen’s grandmother, (or greatgrandmother, I can’t quite remember). And Sera is a cute nickname for Seraphina.

Rosy J on

Must be my lucky day. My favorite celeb baaby website posted this beautiful thread on my all time favorite celeb mom who shared these lovely tidbits on my favorite celeb family. Love Jen and her girls and well Ben, he’s pretty cool too. Gotta get a copy of the mag for my collection.

erin h on

I love Jennifer Garner, she seems so ordinary. What I mean by ordinary is she seems down to earth and approachable like if you saw her out she would talk to you about being a mom, etc. I am so happy for she and Ben. They are such a cute family and I love the nickname Sera. So happy for them!

francine on

Well Ladies,
I don’t think that we could have a better Celebrity Mom role model than Jennifer Garner! Her candor is healthy and refreshing. I wish that their were more role models like her out there. Her focus is on her family, not the scale :)
It is so infuriating to see pics of new moms and read about how their focus is misguided. (Jenna Jamison and her bikini pics @ 4wks postpartum, Tim Allen’s wife’s comments @ 3wks postpartum, Tori Spellings ridiculous weight loss, and Trista Sutter’s Bikini pics, and the list can go on!)
She is REAL – She could easily be in any of our Mom groups!

marla on

this made me tear up…admittedly, i’m a hormonal pregnant lady, but the annecdote about violet staring at the ceiling was precious. so true. she seems like such a fantastic mother.

and it is so refreshing to hear a celebrity have realistic goals and appropriate priorities after having just given birth. i am so tired of all the “look at me” post-baby celebrity body stories. blech. i mean, take care of yourself, workout if you can, but save it!

Christina Bledsoe on

I think Jennifer Garner is an awesome mother.

imkeh on

She has been my favorite ever since Alias. I was kinda peeved at Ben for “taking her away” from Alias (that’s how I thought of it haha), but now, I don’t mind. They really are the sweetest family.

On another note, I was at a posh resort the other weekend and we chit-chatted one of the employees there about celebrities he’d seen and who was the worst and he said Reese Witherspoon was the rudest. I guess Jen doesn’t agree :) It’s funny how people are perceived different. It goes to show we don’t really see the big picture of any celebrity.

:) on

I just adore Jen Garner :)
can’t wait to see her next movie!

Lily Mathilda on

she is an amazing woman.

Natasha on

You know what, I’m really glad you haven’t been showing paparazzi photos of this family. I have been waiting to hear more about them for ages and this sanctioned interview was worth more than random photos of them out and about, I am so glad you got to include it.

Linsey on

I have never commented on here before but I just had to say how much I love this family!! They are so genuine and down to earth it is so lovely and refreshing!

bonita_isabel on

she’s a role model to all the mothers out there. she’s my idol :) kudos to you jen!

SARA on

The nickname “Sera” means evening in italian.I think it’s a very cute name,not cute as Violet but Jen made a great choice.I love Jennifer,so normal and down to earth,you don’t even rembember she’s a celebrity because she doesn’t behave like an Hollywood star.Her girls ara so cute and she and Ben are the best couple in Hollywood.Well done,Jennifer!

jazzie on

I love Jennifer! When I first saw her in Dare Devil with Ben Affleck, I told my family they made a great couple. Looks like I was RIGHT! Her description of family life with Ben and the girls was so real and so genuine, I could see her vividly with her family. I wish them continued great love and happiness. She is so right to treasure every moment because before you know it, her baby Sera will be graduating from college! My oldest son graduates in two weeks, and it seems like yesterday that my husband and I were bringing him home.

Evy-Miami on

What a sweet interview I am going out to buy the edition. I just love this family and even individually, they were my favorite’s and when they got married, it was like wow, what a great match. I Loved Jen in 13 going on 30 and Ben in Bounce. It’s funny but with them you can almost predict that they are down to earth and grounded individuals. I wish too their marriage remains strong as having 2 little ones is very stressful. I miss the pictures of little Violet. Congratulations to this beautiful family! and Yes there one of the best couples out there including: John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Matt Damon and Luciana, Tom Hanks and his wife, Will Smith and Jada Smith,and can’t remember the other ones

Chris on

Sera is a great name. I love Jen’s story about Violet looking at the ceiling. Children notice the beauty in all things, and it’s part of what makes them so wonderful!! :)

Marie Snyard on

Ben and Jen’s publicists put out a notice saying that they did not
want any more photos of them …for now…

Except for Jen promoting her movie.. she is going to be at the GHOST PREMIERE on April 27 .

The first time since the baby was born!! Wonder if Matt is the same way with his daughter..

Chelsea on

I love what she said about Ben doing Violet’s hair! It’s hilarious as that’s so true from my experience! You could definitely tell when I was growing up the days my dad was in charge of doing my hair, I had two random barrettes or a messy pony-tail!

Terri on

I love the name Seraphina. Seraphina Rose Elizabeth is a lot of name, but I’m sure she’ll live up to it.

SouthernBelle on

I haven’t read through all the comments, so forgive me if this is redundant, but is the new baby’s nickname pronounced SEAR-ah or SAIR-ah (like Sarah?) Just wondering?

Lauren on

I believe it’s pronounced “Seh-ra.” I really like Seraphina’s name and love her nickname. Names that are variations on a popular theme tend to be my favorite (I have so many Sarahs in my life it’s unreal), so Sera is perfect. This is a really awesome interview. Jen’s quotes about Sera’s innate goodness and Violet staring at the ceiling were beautiful. And I appreciate, as I’m sure Jen does, that you don’t post photos of them anymore per their request. They’re not a couple that goes out of their way to court the paparazzi unlike so many others, and if they don’t want the pictures published, I can live with it.

BostonMom on

I really like her…seems like a great mom who loves her kids very much!

I hope that CBB takes her comments to mean that she does NOT welcome or approve or pap photos of her children and that we won’t be seeing any more of them. Also, I hope CBB takes into account Jen’s saying that she will smile for them even when she doesn’t approve just so that her child is not scared. Perhaps other celeb moms do the same…so when you see photos of them smiling, don’t assume that they find it all ok. I love this blog but I really wish you would only post photos that are posed (i.e., intended for public consumption) or taken at events where the parents know that press will be present.

Emily on

Y’all are cracking me up…it must be a dialect thing, because where I’m from, Seh-ra and Sair-ah sound the same! :)

Great interview, and I am glad that CBB has a strict policy when it comes to paparazzi pics, especially after reading about poor Violet wanting the paps to stop, “please.”

Ginger on

Oh, I love this little family, too!! Jennifer is so awesome. “What am I going to do, not eat?” LOVE that!!

BTW, if they’d named little Sera Seraphina Elizabeth Rose, her initials would have spelled S E R A. Just an observation.

Shaina on

I love her I still wish alias was still on. I am so thrilled that her and Ben are still married and appear to be so happy. Their defiently not another Hollywood couple. Violet is so cute and well mannered I wish the paparazzis would leave her alone as well although I love to see the new pics of the family they do need their privacy w/children and all. I wish the family lots of love and happiness I would love to see a little boy in the mix.

emilyc on

good to hear a celeb going though the same stuff as the average mom. I can relate so much right now to her comment about not knowing what to do when you’re breastfeeding one and the other is crying! (With my own three month old and two year old.)

Nina on

BostonMom- CBB hasn’t posted any pics of them since apparently a rep for the family reached out and asked them not to anymore.
Which is one more reason I LOVE this site! :)

Pamela on

Love this family! They don’t act superior, they act like any simple loving family would act. They don’t let their celebrity affect their lives, and that’s so refreshing. I love her humor about the weight. She’s going the healthy way instead of starving herself to fit Hollywood’s standards. Good for her!

Manon on

I must be alone in preferring the name Sera (or Seraphina) to Violet!

I love it but I don’t care for the name Violet much.

babyboopie on

Aw, Jen is beautiful and a great mother! I have a lot of respect for her, and Violet is so cute! I would love to see whether Sera looks like her?

Allison on

I saw a picture of Jen with Sera on another site. I couldn’t tell what color hair she has but her eyes are exactly like Jen’s and Violet’s.

Regular on

Out of curiosity what is with the comments such as “just like everyone else”, who said celebs were not like everyone else? Only superficial people assume they are not like everyone else. (yeah you might say “well why are you here if celebs weren’t different”, but I caught this site through a link and never assume that celeb mothers face “different” challenges) Anyway, what makes an actress mother different from a lawyer or doctor or saleswoman etc… Nothing against Garner (I like her) but the obsession with celeb mothers being different (or people’s amazement that, suprise, “they are just like me”) is puzzling, if not concerning. Angelina, Jennifer, Gwen and Nicole all face the same things as other mothers, they only thing is more people know their names.

koala on

Some babies (people) really are born “sweet”. My second was like that, and he still has this ineffable goodness about him so I agree with Jennifer.

Jane on

I love Jennifer Garner and think she’s the worldest greatest advocate for pregnant women both celebrity and not! I think her and Ben are great parents and going to raise two amazing daughters. I would love for them to have more children.

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