by Gregory Keer
In my single days I was a complete failure with fast women. I’m not talking about the kind of ladies who moved through men like fire through a dry forest. I’m referring to females who make quick decisions, achieve goals rapidly, and grab all the life they can into their waking hours.
So I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to marry such a creature. I’m what you call your basic tortoise. I walk slowly. I overthink everything. I eat so methodically that restaurateurs who value table-turnover pay me to stay away. And if you think I’m slow, you should see my father or have met my late paternal grandfather. Time is measured by sundial with those two guys.
Yet I did marry one swift-moving hare of a woman. Wendy talks fast, drives fast, eats fast. It used to make me crazy since I had to ask her to repeat almost everything she said and would sit in the passenger car seat clinging to the door handle, wondering if I’d left proper instructions for my funeral.
For all my troubles in keeping up with this lickety-split lady, her energy level is a big reason she’s a super mom. In a given day, she can do morning drop off, teach college classes, head up a meeting to improve the parking lots of her campus, email and phone a gaggle of friends, and get dinner ready at day’s end. On the weekends and in-between teaching, she takes the kids to extra-curricular activities, reads to them constantly, leads weekend family hikes, and slips in a date night with me.
I live with this woman but can’t figure out how she does it. There’s no Ritalin or other foreign stimulants to sustain her relentless multitasking. Just God-given fuel that keeps her on “mom overdrive.”
Of course, sometimes, she breaks down. She can be short-tempered with the kids and I. She neglects my need to talk to her about career stuff or emotions (yes, I’m frequently the “girl” in the relationship). She leaves a mess of unopened mail and clothes wherever she goes. And, once in a while, she falls on the bed to cry that she’s a disaster as a mother, wife, friend, etc. She may be fast, but she’s not a machine.
Still, working with this very human ball of fire has its rewards. While getting the soap out of little Ari’s hair as I sing a Raffi song is one of my day’s bigger achievements, my slowpoke style meshes with Wendy’s light-speed sprint. I’m the one who assures our meals are well balanced in the wake of my wife’s “just get ‘em fed” efforts. I show my second-grader how to proofread his homework after Wendy has prodded Benjamin to finish up. I spend hours burning CDs, filled with the kids’ favorite songs, to accompany us on road trips, following my partner’s whirlwind packing to get us in the minivan.
After 15 years together, a little of Wendy has rubbed off on me, too. Before meeting her, I broke out in hives with the anxiety of trying to run a lunchtime errand in the middle of my workday. Now, I can juggle two jobs, co-manage the household responsibilities, and still have something left in the tank for childcare. She’s pushed me past the boundaries of what I thought I could do. Most of this is because Wendy has taught me the power of what Nike used to urge: “Just do it.” Like anyone who runs through life like a gazelle, Wendy has missteps along the road. But she’s fearless about mistakes because she knows she can always circle around and make up for them in the time it takes most people to decide if they’re even going to try.
In this way, she’s also blessed our children. They’ve learned their mother’s rhythm to become little dynamos themselves. Without much provocation from us, Benjamin can read a whole chapter book while waiting for dinner to cook and Jacob manages to tear the entire house apart as he waits for someone to take him out on his scooter (actually, he does lots of insect collecting in his free time). Ari never stops moving, plowing through touch ‘n’ feel books, balls, and toy cars with the efficiency of an assembly-line quality control expert.
While Wendy and I both heed the need to take it easy on occasion and refrain from pushing our children into more hyperactivity than is in their genes, our sons have benefited from their mommy’s example. They spend more time playing, learning, and acting on their dreams than in waiting for things to come to them.
© 2006 Gregory Keer. All rights reserved. Gregory Keer is a syndicated columnist, educator, and on-air expert on fatherhood. His Family Man column appears in publications such as L.A. Parent, Boston Parents' Paper, and Sydney's Child. In addition to writing for Parenting Magazine and the Parents' Choice Foundation, Keer publishes the online fatherhood magazine, www.familymanonline.com . He also contributes to USA Today, Pregnancy, DrLaura.com , and ParentingBookmark.com . Keer is a guest expert on television and radio and advisor to the Cartoon Network. He and his wife are the proud parents of three sons. He can be reached at www.familymanonline.com .