ValueSpeak: My wife is way more than just a pretty face

By Joe Walker

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 10 2013 6:20 p.m. MDT

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There were a lot of things that first attracted me to Anita: her sharp, clear mind. The depth of her soul. Her profound spirituality. Her prodigious wit and delightful sense of humor.

Are you buying any of this?

OK, I’ll admit it: I was first attracted to Anita because she was … well … hot.

While it’s true that the more I got to know her, the more I realized how easy she was to talk to, and that she was a lot of fun to be with, and that she was an amazing dancer, and that she seemed to have some substance to her as opposed to the usual college freshman fluff.

But let’s be real here. Her … you know … hotness — especially those big, beautiful, bewitching eyes — played a significant role in the process that led me to ask for her hand in marriage. Come on, I was 22 years old at the time. It’s not like I was going to fall in love with someone simply because I thought she’d probably be a good mother to our children.

And yet, nine months almost to the day after we were married, that’s exactly what Anita was: the mother of our first child, confidently cradling in her arms a beautiful little girl who, everyone said, had her mother’s eyes.

It was mind-blowing to me how easily and naturally Anita took to being a mother. While I struggled with the nuances of fatherhood right from the start, Anita seemed to instinctively know what she was doing and how to care for our child.

“I know you guys are just having fun and I appreciate that you are trying to entertain the baby, but I don’t think playing catch with her in the living room is a good idea,” Anita said, stepping in between me and her younger brother, Brent, as we tossed six-month-old AmyJo back and forth while standing about 6 feet apart.

“Look!” I said, holding AmyJo up so Anita could see our daughter’s bug-eyed face and clenched fists. “She loves it!”

“No,” Anita said, patiently. “She’s terrified. Why don’t you guys go downstairs and watch football while I feed her?”

It took Anita 15 minutes to get AmyJo unclenched enough to eat. But she figured it out, just like she always has through the natural ups and downs of life with five children. She’s been a spectacular mother — world class in every respect. And now I see the exact same thing happening to her as a grandmother, as she intuitively does all the things wonderful grandmothers do while I stumble along trying — and mostly failing — to keep up with her.

I wish I could take credit for seeing all of this in her when I asked her to marry me. But even though she already had all of these terrific qualities and abilities when I met and fell in love with her, I honestly had no idea what an extraordinary mother and grandmother she was going to be. I was unmistakably — and not surprisingly — oblivious.

Once again, I blame her eyes.

So I guess I was lucky that Anita turned out to be way more than just a pretty face.

Or was I?

Every year at this time we hear and read powerful stories about wonderful mothers doing incredible things for their children. Evidently the world is filled with terrific mothers. Now, I don’t mean to be misandrous or anything, but human males aren’t especially well known for choosing their mates based on perceived mothering skills. Other species, perhaps. But not us. And there’s probably a reason for that — and not just hormones. I mean, how do you know who is going to be a good mother until she actually becomes one?

So I assume there are a lot of other men like me this Mother’s Day, who thank heaven that they married women who turned out to be amazing mothers — more or less despite us.

And there isn’t anything hotter than that.

To read more by Joseph B. Walker please go to www.josephbwalker.com.

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