Before becoming a mom of two little ones my life revolved around the world of figure skating.
It was my passion, my life, my identity and my whole world.
I was lucky enough to make it to a very high level. In 2006 I was able to qualify for a spot on the United States Olympic Team in Pairs Figure Skating. To get to that dream though there were many sacrifices. All of the hard work and dedication to one thing didn’t guarantee me my spot in the Olympics. Although it was my biggest goal it was never my entire focus. I firmly believe that the entire reason I was able to make the US team, leave competitive skating for pro opportunities and move on from the glitz and glam of show skating for motherhood was because I always had a healthy outlook on the sport. I knew it couldn’t and wouldn’t last forever. But there is no doubt that being an elite figure skater shaped me into the person and mother I am today.
Now that I am no longer a “working” figure skater I apply many of the lessons that shaped me as an athlete into my newer role as a mom and step-mom. Becoming a mom is no doubt my greatest accomplishment! I absolutely love my new job. And man is it ever a job, I don’t know how women juggle it all but somehow we manage to everything even if we are completely exhausted at the end of our days. (Last week I went to bed at 7:45pm! Yikes.)
Here are a few of the things that spending my life skating taught me and transferred to motherhood.
*Patience and Delayed Gratification: A sport like figure skating is extremely tough because it takes years to develop your craft. You are constantly scrutinized and since it’s a judged sport it can be very subjective. I have learned how to work really hard and to take a lot of pride in working for something that may not have an immediate reward. Motherhood is much like this too. You are investing countless hours of everyday trying to mold, guide, and shape a little human into becoming a good and kind citizen of the world. They are also testing your patience endless times in the day. It can be you turn your back for half a minute to change the youngest ones diaper only to discover your toddler flipping their cup of apple juice over on purpose to play in the liquid with their hands. The never ending loads of laundry, picking up after, cooking, cleaning of the kitchen to have to feed people all over again in a matter of minutes, running around trying to keep kids out of danger or occupied while you juggle cooking a meal, changing a load of laundry or just plain looking at your social media for a few minutes of sanity. It’s constant and never ending but it’s also very rewarding and the greatest joy in life at the same time.
*Time Management: Any mother can tell you how difficult it can be to have young children. They demand nearly every second of your time while they are awake and their sleep schedules can smack you in the face too. Just when you think you have them on a good routine and sleeping through the night, BAM the first tooth arrives! Juggling everything during the day can be downright daunting. Our days are very repetitive and our window of time to leave the home is so short. Usually 9:00am-12pm is all I got and that’s if I force Westlyn to nap “on the go” (in the car because she wakes as soon as we arrive anywhere for fear of major FOMO!). When we do leave the house I better be damn prepared or I will deal with the wrath of a two year old boy for not having the right granola bar. So I leave our home with two different sizes of diapers, a bottle for Westlyn, a drink for Maverick, snacks for Maverick, wipes, changes of clothes for both because God forbid someone has a blowout and we need to change our outfits, a stroller that I can attach them both in and is heavy AF to lift in and out of the car, and any other little thing I can cram into my Louis Vuitton Neverfull handbag that will buy me a moment of piece while I run errands or attempt to conquer the real world with two children under 3 years old. There are countless moments that I remember back to my figure skating days of trying to juggle school and practice and then later on coaching and training. (Many elite figure skaters coach younger skaters on the side for a bit of income.) Being a busy teen and twenty something kept me out of trouble, made me focused and taught me how to make the most of my time and to be organized at all times.
*Encouragement: The best coaches I ever had and the ones that I worked the best with where the coaches who expected a lot from me but were also extremely kind and encouraging. That is exactly how I tackle my parenting. Things can be very black and white with me as a mom. I will not make three different dinners for everyones preferences each night. I make one meal for the family and that’s all. If you don’t like it or eat that’s too bad. That may sound harsh but children won’t starve and I’m trying to encourage eating different types of foods not just kid friendly pizza and chicken fingers. I always put a little bit of what we are having on Maverick’s plate. If he doesn’t touch certain things thats okay, at least it’s there for him to try. And I don’t force him to clear his plate. He’ll eat when he’s hungry and hopefully try new things in the process at some point. Maverick knows now that that’s his dinner and he won’t be getting a PB&J if the meal doesn’t meet his approval. Of course we have the kid friendly stuff sometimes too (I love a good Mac and Cheese night). On the flip side I am extremely nurturing as a mom. I praise good behaviour through the roof because I think children aim to please. I kiss and want to cuddle them all day long! I savour the moments I pull little Westlyn into bed with us in the morning and we snuggle together. She is growing so fast everyday and I’m trying to cherish her baby self as long as I possibly can. It all happens so fast! Maverick doesn’t really want to cuddle anymore but he does ask for them before bedtime and it’s the sweetest thing in the world!
*Good Sportmanship: Good sportsmanship may sound like a weird thing to carry on into motherhood but it is something I really want my kids to have. You haven’t been a skater until you have to face the heartbreak of a last place finish or a performance marred by falls after months of hard work. Many times you are competing against your friends and club mates. Loosing with grace and dignity is key. Congratulating your competitors when they beat you can be hard but it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes the odds are in your favour and you are the best of that night but there are many times when there is someone out there who does what you do better and it’s good to celebrate them too. I really hope to pass this on to my children. The world is a really tough place and I want them to be confident enough in their abilities to know that working and trying your very hardest means more then being at the top of the podium. You win some you loose some and how you loose shows a lot about your character.
Leaving behind my former life as a figure skater was not difficult at all. I will never miss the stress and anxiety of competition. I used to question the meaning of life before stepping on the ice to compete and why I put myself through feeling this way! I constantly had to remind myself that I wasn’t a soldier flighting in a war or I wasn’t preforming brain surgery. It’s a sport and supposed to be fun! But it’s so hard to have that kind of perspective when it’s all you live and breathe for so many years. I won’t miss the feeling of not skating your best at a very important competition because you got in your own head, or the heartbreak of missing qualifying for the next competition by one place. What I do miss is the feeling of preforming professionally, nailing a tough element under pressure, and wearing all the glam and glitzy costumes! Truth be told that is the real reason I started to figure skate as an eight year old. It was all about those dresses!
Olympic Skate can be viewed here, a Battle of the Blades skate here, and one of my cruise ship skates here.
My Figure Skating Bio:
Year Started: 1990, age 8
Age at first US Nationals: 12 in 1995 (Juvenile Level)
Number of active years skating: 23
Age started pairs skating: 18 in the year 2000
Cities I trained in (in order): Columbus, Cleveland, Newark- DE, Detroit.
US National Silver Medal in 2006
US Olympic Team in 2006
World Team Member
13th place in to 2006 Winter Olympic Games
Number of years Pro: 7
Cruise Ship Shows: 2006-2010
Shows in Germany: 2009, 2010
Battle of the Blades TV Show Professional Skater: 2011, 2013