"I don't want to be a stay-at-home dad. Work is very important to me," Ben Affleck announces in the October issue of Details.
Doing the promo rounds for his new film Argo, Affleck told his interviewer that while both he and wife, actress Jennifer Garner, "like to work," she does the parenting when he's immersed in a project. (Nannies notwithstanding.)
Affleck, who discovered that "running around after three kids is very trying," acknowledged: "I'm not very present in the rest of my life. My wife's very patient. She does everything. If I have time, I try to spend time with the kids, even if just to be a physical presence, the bath, whatever. But my mind's always going, 'How are we going to light that shot tomorrow? What's the master shot for that scene? Is there even going to be a master?' Just ruminating endlessly."
If the stay-at-home dad is the new hero, where does it leave the guy who blatantly says no thanks? (Besides a men's magazine article with the headline, "Ben Affleck: No Apologies. No Regrets. No Bulls#*t.")
Over at Babble, there was predictable tsk tsking:
"Hopefully, he'll become more adept at living in the moment with his children as time goes on," wrote mommy blogger Shana Aborn. "Little Samuel won't be a baby forever, and the girls are growing fast. … It goes by faster than you think, Ben."
But Aborn acknowledged another element to the story: That just like many women, Affleck is struggling with his work-life balance.
"I need my work to mean something to me in order for me to not be home with them," the he told Details. "Anytime you think, 'I'm wasting my time here,' the first thought you have is, 'I could go home and be with my kids.' Now, you may go home and be with your kids and very quickly start thinking, 'I wonder what's on the work front?'
Affleck isn't the only modern guy discomforted by the prospect of changing diapers while his wife pursues her own career. Hanna Rosin describes the lingering anxiety in her book The End of Men. One of the men she interviews (she calls him David, and he's from Vancouver) sees himself as ultraprogressive. But when he sees a father happily chasing his kids around the local playground – at noon on a weekday! – David says that the man "haunts" him.
"It's because our team is losing," David tells Rosin.
The author writes: "A power arrangement that's prevailed for most of history does not fade without a ripple."
That's you, Ben Affleck, daydreaming of the "master shot" while Samuel Garner Affleck throws more apple sauce at the wall.