Jeff Benedict: Busy wife fills several roles — and doesn't miss a beat

Published: Sunday, April 29 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Lydia Benedict signs a book while on the road in Southport, Conn.

Last week I was in New York to kick off the release of the new edition of "The Mormon Way of Doing Business." I discussed Mitt Romney and Mormonism in a live interview with Charlie Rose and Gayle King on The CBS Early Show.

And Armen Keteyian did a compelling segment on Romney for CBS that was based on stories taken from the book.

In all, I spent four days in New York doing media. It's been a busy spring. So far this year, I've spent 50 percent of my nights on the road.

A man is easily distracted when away from his family too much. That's one reason I often take one or two of my kids on the road. It's wise. But not always practical.

Plus, truth be told, there are times when I prefer a rendezvous with a certain gorgeous woman. But this isn't particularly practical, either. For starters, this woman — the only one I want to run off with — is hard to get. She has her own career and never stops working.

I'm talking about my wife, Lydia.

Her day job is home schooling our four kids. She also runs our organic family farm. It's really her farm. She's the one with her hands in the dirt. I'm not being glib when I say that I know no man who works harder.

But there is something irresistibly romantic about a woman who can go from dirt under the fingernails to polish on the toenails without missing a beat. And as much as Lydia is at home on the farm, she loves New York. We recently flew there for a speech and book signing.

I talked a lot about Mitt Romney in my remarks. But I talked about Lydia, too. I'm a lot better at what I do when my best friend is with me. Needless to say, when it came time to sign books, my wife got asked for her autograph.

Afterward, a close friend organized a private meeting for us with world-class chef and food policy activist Michel Nischan. Michel (pronounced Mee-Shell) was in the audience for my speech. Back in 2006, he partnered with Paul Newman to open The Dressing Room, a spectacular organic restaurant in Westport, Conn.

Over hors' dourves, Lydia spent 45 minutes discussing sustainable agriculture with one of the best chefs in the U.S. Michel is reading my book "Poisoned." But Lydia is the one who speaks his language. She's the one who plants herbs, works with soil and seeds, and processes the food she grows.

I fell in love with her smarts and conversation back when she was 18. I'm still in love with those characteristics today.

The other thing I love is her daring spirit. For example, the day after the book signing I had meetings in the city. But I also had a rare hole in my schedule in the middle of the day — a two-hour block with nothing to do. What to do?

We decided to suntan in Central Park. With a bag of fruit and some bottled water, we lay side-by-side on beach towels, surrounded by lots of younger people. What could be better than taking in the sun with a beautiful woman in Central Park?

That evening, we had dinner with a dear friend who is a senior producer at one of the networks. Then we went to see the musical "Chicago."

We were out until midnight. The next morning, a car picked us up at 7:15 and took us to The CBS Early Show.

The Green Room was packed with other guests appearing on the show that morning — authors, pundits. Even actor John Cusack dropped in. It's a hip scene. But it's also an environment where a stay-at-home mother can feel … out of place.

What does she say when someone making small talk says: "So what do you do?"

It's a bit like when we were in grad school in Boston and we'd go to a party full of strangers getting acquainted by rattling off their degrees. Our culture is full of that sort of thing. We put great value on fancy titles and prestigious letters. "Mother" just isn't considered a sexy title and it comes with no sophisticated letters.

But the sexiest, most sophisticated woman I know is — at her core — a mother.

She is training four young minds to love literature, to be environmentally responsible, to practice sustainable agriculture, to play the piano, to speak Spanish. Most important, she's teaching them how to work and fearlessly chase their dreams.

On our last night in New York, we saw "End of the Rainbow." After the show, we went for a late dinner at Remi.

Give me a beautiful woman, a great restaurant and outdoor seating on a warm night in the city, and I say life doesn't get much better. A lot of that time we talked about women and their roles. By the time we finished, the restaurant was empty. But the waiter said, "Take your time. You've got all night."

I love New York.

Jeff Benedict is the author of "The Mormon Way of Doing Business" and blogs at jeffbenedict.com

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