In Praise of the Mom-Athlete

Sara Vaughn

This past weekend Sara Vaughan earned a place on the United States team which will compete in the international Track & Field Championships in London. This seems to have struck a chord with many, perhaps because of fact that she is a working woman and not as young some of the other competitors. I think it’s more basic than that: she is a mother of three. That anyone could find such amazing speed after giving birth to three seems to defy imagination.

The process of conceiving and having a baby is miraculous in many ways. There are lots of books about the miracle of childbirth and I won’t duplicate those here. I will just say that I have undying respect for any woman who can have a baby and then come back to perform feats of athleticism.

A few of us were talking recently about our favorite Olympic athletes. Near the top of my list will always be Noelle Pikus-Pace.

Noelle Pikus-Pace celebrates with her daughter.

Part of the reason for my admiration is she labored nobly to be successful in a sport which gets little recognition. More than this, however, is that she gave us an indelible image of a mother celebrating her greatest athletic success with her biggest fan.

I have friends who are mothers and it blows my mind that they somehow take care of their little ones and also take care of their training. Some of them hire sitters while they run, some run while their children ride bicycles beside them, and some dead lift and squat at the gym until their children reach their limit of the childcare provided.

These women send two valuable messages to their children: a) it is important to take care of yourself physically; b) life doesn’t stop when you have children. More than this, a woman who can prioritize a workout will have an outlet for the stress that comes along with having a young family. When my girls were young, I was always so happy when my wife managed to sneak in a run or an exercise class.

Last fall, a friend of mine shared a photo of her young children surrounding her with love after she completed a marathon. The look of happiness and pride in accomplishment tugged at my heart.

I’ve had a fair number of athletic accomplishments. These pale in comparison to my Mom friends who done similar things and put forth a new life. In any competition, whether in athletics or life, I would never bet against a Mom-Athlete.

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