As the Professional Athlete job title becomes increasingly more common for women, their private lives simultaneously become more public. Their familial decisions become subject to unsolicited ridicule from fans, sponsors, Tweeters, and Instagramers who claim to know what is best for their bodies—especially when it comes to having children. Professional volleyball player, Kerri Walsh Jennings, who has three kids, said in an interview with Fox News.
“People told me, ‘Don’t have a baby, it’ll mess up your body, mess up your endorsements,’ all these things that really didn’t matter to me because life is so much bigger than sport, and life is meant to be full.”
Many other athletes seem to agree with her big picture sentiment. Sydney Leroux, member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, blogs regularly about what it is like to be a mother. Before her son was born, she wrote,
“I’m missing the Olympics because I’m pregnant with you and was recently asked how that made me feel. Here is what I said, “It feels glorious. It feels like the greatest gift I could ask for, the opportunity to love so profoundly, with such purity. That love doesn’t encumber my life — it enriches my life. I feel thankful, I feel lucky. You are my gold now and you are more priceless than anything I can ever win.”
While being a pro athlete is much more physically taxing than most professions, balancing time between work and family is no different. Of course, there are challenges, as WNBA all-star Candace Parker noted in an interview with The Undefeated.
“The hardest part is now that she’s older is she has activities of her own, so it kills me to not be at everything. With Facetime videos I’m able to see all her games, all her performances, but it’s hard for me to not actually be present when she does everything.”
These women are adamant, however, that their choice to start a family did not take away from their professional lives, but rather enhanced them significantly. “With one door shutting, others came on board,” Jennings said to Fox News.
“There’s a whole market for female athletes who are moms – it’s a different kind of life,
different kind of training and opened new avenues for me. It’s certainly only been a blessing to the highest degree.”
The work-life balance may change when women start their families, but they believe that the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. These women are highly motivated and driven. They own the rights to their own bodies—they have proven to those fans, sponsors and even the social media naysayers that athlete moms are no different from those who work “regular jobs” while managing households. As all moms are, they are, in essence, superheroes!