When someone asks me what I do, I proudly say that I am a mom. When I first stopped working as a teacher, that was not so easy for me to do. But, over the last five years I have gained a confidence as a mother, and a woman, that I didn’t realize I had in me.
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The truth is being a mom in 2016 is hard. Everyone has their own story. Breast or bottle? CoSleep or straight to crib? Working or full time parent? To swaddle or not to swaddle? Married? Single? It is amazing how many ways you can do parenting right. I am so grateful for all of the amazing examples there are in this beautiful world of good mothers. Being a mom can be hard, but knowing there are so many ways to do my job well, is so inspiring.
My own sweet mother instilled in me a love of the Olympics. I can vividly remember waiting in the hot sun in Phoenix, Az in 1996 to watch the torch come through the city. I was 9. I watch them every two years, although I prefer summer sports. This year was the first time I had to experience the Olympics without my sweet mom, as she passed away last year. I was so happy and inspired to hear Dana Vollmer’s story of returning to swimming after having her sweet son, my mom would love her story! I was shocked and excited when I was given the chance to interview Dana about being a mother and an Olympian.
Dana is a wonderful example of a good mother. I am so inspired by her answers. So many amazing take aways from our chat:
- What was it like to go back to swimming after having your son?
- To come back to a college team after being a gold medalist and then taking two years off felt like starting from ground zero. But it was actually a real blessing for me – I was super self-conscious when I came back, but my team was so supportive and helped me let that self-criticism go, allowing me to just be the best I can be.
- How do you juggle all of your roles?
- All through my swimming career it’s been about time management. My priorities have changed and being a mom now comes first, but other moms always told me that you need to take some time of your own. For that ‘me-time’ to be swimming is just such a happy place.
- What is your one piece of advice you would give a new mom?
- Taking it day by day. Even the goal to get back in shape seemed like a really lofty goal but when you step back and take it a day at a time you can be happy with your progress. Also, letting go. As an athlete I have this gut feeling that I can do everything on my own, but you have to let go. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from my son, but I let go and know I have amazing support systems at home taking care of him.
- What is your favorite part about being a mom?
- The smiles and the moments when Arlen has figured something new out and he just looks up at you with those eyes that say “did you see me just do this!?”
- How does it feel to be the first swimmer to win a medal after having a baby?
- I couldn’t be more proud. For all the little steps I took to get here, and for my husband for allowing me to have the schedule I have and being so supportive between the traveling and the expenses…I am just so proud. It’s also been great to have the support of great sponsors like Pampers behind me. For me, they represent everything about my comeback. It isn’t solely about being an Olympic athlete, it’s all about families and who I am as a mom. It’s about doing both, and Pampers diapers allow me to do that by providing overnight protection that helps Arlen have a sound night sleep, so he – and I – can continue to achieve our dreams.
I love seeing other moms following their dreams and being so successful.