Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Unusual Childhood Hero

I was recently inspired by a blog I follow to write the following:

When I was in grade school I had an unusual hero. While other girls my age were mimicking Madonna or Cyndi Lauper or faithfully watching every episode of Punky Brewster, I was entrenched in the book, Cheaper by the Dozen about the Gilbreth family with twelve children. I thought the dad in the story was a miracle worker. What I remember most is how he seemed to always find inventive ways to accomplish multiple things at once. He also tackled the finances with wit and a frugality like none I’ve witnessed since. He was silly, but brilliant in my eyes.

And now as I partner with my husband to raise three girls while writing daily, I find that I’m constantly participating in my own balancing act. I’m trying to balance the budget, balance my time and balance my sense of humor with practical wisdom. I thrive on creative ways to squish ten to-do’s on my list into a five minute time span. This is coming from a woman who learned to talk on the phone and pluck my eyebrows while breastfeeding. I considered that quite a feat.
~~I think I’m hitting upon the art of multi-tasking. Have you seen the commercial where Kelly Ripa zooms around her house doing laundry, making cookies as she completes approximately 400 other tasks? That’s what I’m getting at. I stand in awe of people who accomplish numerous things in a matter of minutes on a regular basis.

When I think of Mr. Gilbreth from Cheaper by the Dozen (or hysterical Steve Martin from the movie version) or even Kelly Ripa in that commercial (or let’s be honest even her real life), or my eyebrow-plucking, phone-talking, breastfeeding self, I think of the creativity, dexterity and mind power that goes into completing many things at once. Yet, I’m overly aware that some things get dropped. Some things are compromised and not all things can be done with excellence.

As I reflect on my unusual childhood hero, Mr. Gilbreth I conclude that I’ve always longed to make the most of every minute of my life. I think I’m learning how to maximize my time, while also letting some things drop. Because after all, some things in life just gotta give.

What about you—can you let some things drop? Is it exciting for you to think of ways of getting more done in less time? Finally, did you have an unusual childhood hero?

Do Tell!

*photo by flickr


  1. I multi-task all day too! I think it's part of being a woman and a mother. I'm thankful God gave us the ability because honestly, I don't think men have the same capacity! :) That said, I've found myself trying to multi-task even more lately to make more writing time! If I can fold laundry, cook dinner, and clean the kitchen all at the same time, then bonus!! More writing time later!

  2. I know for a fact that men do not have the multi-tasking ability...or, well...maybe just my man!! LOL! I think it's hilarious when he makes dinner and can't manage the cooking of the food and setting of the table all at once...nothing is ever done all together! BUT, he made dinner, so can I really complain????? LOL!

    I am a pro at multi-tasking, but I don't think I truly mastered the talent until I had a baby. Usually before that you don;t have much need to do a ton of multi-tasking, maybe at work..I;m sure certain jobs require it. But when it comes to being a mom, like you said, if you didn't talk on the phone and pluck your eyebrows while feeding the baby, when would you have gotten those things done??? Probably wouldn't have!

    But I do have to say, not all moms are good at multi-tasking. Some of my friends watch me in awe and ask how I manage so much.....I really have no answer...I just do it. It truly is a gift!

  3. Yes, I had an unusual hero. It was a gentleman in our church who stepped in as a father figure for me (I had divorced parents..absent father). He gave me my first job at the Baskin Robbins he owned and eventaully stood with me as my witness on my wedding day.

    The best was when I wrote an article about him and it was published AND translated into twenty six languages!

  4. I wish I could get more done than I do, but that's just the way life is right now. For instance, this morning, I usually have a couple of hours to write while my twins are in pre-school. Well, one of them woke up puking, so I've been taking care of her all morning instead. Oh, well. That's not something I can control.

    My hero has been Stephen King for the longest time. The strange thing about this is I'm not a huge fan of his writing. Some books I loved and others I hated. LOL Go figure.

    Lynnette Labelle

  5. As a professional juggler (3 teens and care giver for my mom), it's expected to drop a ball now and then, but we just keep on trying to reach that good balance and do the best we can. :)

  6. I can multi-task, I just never seem to have the energy to do anything. Where do you get your energy?? My multi-vitamins aren't doing the trick.

  7. Multi-tasking is all part and parcel of being a mother, I think. If I think about all the things I need to do, I would curl up into a whimpering ball. Somewhere in my gray matter I have a scheduler that figures out what tasks I need to do for the day, who then sends helpful little reminders of what needs to be done now. Because of my health, somethings do have to drop, but the important thing is that it's things that are dropped, not people. :D

  8. I was a great multi-tasker when I had five children. Now that I have six, I've hit some sort of "critical mass" status, and multi-tasking is much harder than it once was.

    I know that my children will only be small for a very short time, however, and the things I've had to let drop--knitting, all but the most minimal gardening, etc.-- will be picked up again sometime in the future.

  9. I drop stuff all the time. Sometimes it is on purpose but mostly by accident. I have learned to let go of some things I used to think were important (clean house, etc.)
    Dropped by from SITS.

  10. Whenever I see that Kelly Ripa commercial, I roll my eyes and say "yeah, right!"--I just don't believe she makes cupcakes or does her own laundry. Is that bad? Ha! Ha!

  11. Considering I breast feed while I check out people's blogs and catch up on emails... I think I'm big on multitasking. :)

  12. Jody, you amaze me with 5 and your writing goals!

    Stephanie, I like how you wrote you just do it. There does seem to be some kind of underlying "go-to-it-ness" that comes w/ multitasking.

    Tess, that sounds like a wonderfully meaningful relationship...I'd love to read an article like that!

    Lynette, I do plan to head over to your site for a longer look here soon. Sorry about the vommiting child. cute. I always thought it would be fun to have twins. I love On Writing.

    Angie, I felt a freedom in your words and like how you called it "that good balance."

    Juliet, probably from the bolt of lightening that struck me when I was a child...No, I think it's just how I'm wired. Kids get medicated now for the way I act.

    Danyelle, "a whimpering ball"...Yes. Can I borrow your "scheduler" sometime? :D

    Luisa, women BLOW me away!

    Debbie, it's often I let go of that exact same thing.

    Jill, the worst of it for me is that she still looks stunning after having done it all. On a freakishly good day maybe I can accomplish a freakish amount of stuff, but I certainly wouldn't look radiant at the end of the day.

    Katie, you make a mom proud! I never tried the computer/breastfeeding route. Love it!

    I hope you all know I get excited each day to communicate with you! ~ Wendy

  13. Yeah, I agree about Kelly Ripa...I doubt she does any of her own cooking or cleaning!

  14. I don't think there's ANYTHING I didn't do at least once while breastfeeding. I laugh to think about it now that those treasured years are behind me.

    Abraham Lincoln was my childhood hero. As an adult I more deeply appreciate this God-fearing husband to a wife of instability, father who mourned his little son's death, and army's commander-in-chief devastated by war's brutal carnage yet compelled to persist and preserve our nation.

    What have I learned to let go? Perfectionism was first. To quote Michael J. Fox, "Excellence, I can reach for. Perfection is God's business." I try to remember what's most worth excellence. My housekeeping and mending pile definitely suffer. And I no longer watch T.V. (except an occasional movie with the kids), preferring to spend time with precious people like all of you.

  15. Anne, I loved your comments here. A little girl in one of my novels I put away for awhile has Abe has her hero. She taped pennies all around her door to remember him. :D

    I'm so thankful God didn't wire me with perfectionist tendencies! Great quote from Alex P. Keaton. :D My housekeeping suffers too and since I've begun blogging my TV watching has suffered too. :D

    I'm enjoying all of your comments!

    Stephanie, don't know why but I kind of have Kelly pegged as a cooker...could be wrong though. :D


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