I have been an Olympics fanatic since I was a little girl. Therefore, last Friday I watched the entire inaugural ceremony of the Rio 2016 Summer Games, and besides learning Brazilian history and a bunch of new country names, I also learned that “Super Model Cat-Walk on High Heels” had became a new sports discipline at the Maracana Stadium.
Kidding aside, over the weekend I watched different competitions of men and women’s cycling, beach volleyball, gymnastics, and swimming, the latter, the sport of Dana Vollmer. This amazing athlete–Gold Medalist of the 100 meters butterfly at the 2012 London Games–returned to the pool to defend her gold and world record. However, she was defeated by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström, and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, both 16.
Right before the final began, the broadcast included a small bio where she appeared with her baby boy–seventeen-months-old–and husband, talking about how much her life had changed since the last Olympics due to motherhood. After that, the buzz marked the start of an accelerating race in which she stroked like an albatross with all her might. Nonetheless, Vollmer reached the wall 1.15 seconds too late.
Vollmer lost the gold, her world record, and had to settle for bronze. I don’t know what went through her mind at the end of the race, but her face showed a little disappointment that got through on the TV screen; even though I am not an Olympian, I could relate to her.
Motherhood is the most wonderful and fulfilling experience in my life, but it inevitably took the space of the professional life and goals to which I aspired when I was younger. After I got married, even though I was still working, my mind was set on building a family. Then my baby boy was born and I stayed home so I wouldn’t miss any of his “first things.”
Although I wouldn’t change any of my life decisions, I can’t help but feel a little disappointment. Early on I recognized my limitations and I knew that if I wanted to do my best job as a mother, I couldn’t work. I am not very good at multi-tasking and my obsession with perfection makes me my worst critic. I knew my mind only had space for my son’s needs and I simply couldn’t concentrate on anything else. The smartest decision was to stay home.
As a result, I took care of my son, my husband, my dogs, my home, and left myself–willfully–for later.
Nonetheless, later doesn’t mean forever. Two years ago I went back to work and today I am the Director of Customer Service and Marketing of our insurance agency. In addition, I created and launched this blog and have been writing religiously every Wednesday. My husband and my son know well that if I am writing, I am in the zone and if they dare to interrupt me, they better be dying or I will kill them.
Indeed, the Olympian Dana Vollmer had to settle for the bronze medal this time around, but she achieved something else in record time. Five months after her son was born, she lost 50 pounds, recovered the shape of a champion to qualify for Rio 2016, and gave it all in the pool.
She competed with teenagers who still have the luxury to think only about themselves. Being a mother has a price: half of your heart and half of your brain. Perhaps she didn’t hang another gold medal on her neck, but she has somebody in her arms whose love for her can only be measured in gold: her baby boy.
Go Team USA!
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