Children love your passions, not your sacrifices

Leigh - Evanston, Illinois
Entered on November 7, 2008

I believe when I tell my sons and daughter that they can be anything they want to be, that I should be a living model for them. When I encourage my daughter to do well in school and achieve, then I should be the living example of this belief. I simply don’t understand why I would raise my daughter to achieve and dream and aspire and then have her watch her mother stand on the sidelines of life.

My mother did not finish college because she got married. My mother did not work when I was growing up. She was there for me every minute of every day. But she was not happy. I knew it and she knew it. I wished more than anything that my mother was passionate about something…

My happiest memory of my mother is when she was writing a play for a local theater. She was the director and the playwright. My dad and my sister and I had to go out for dinner several nights during rehearsals because she was at the theater. In that brief moment of life, my mother had a glow.

The other happy memory I have of my mother is when she was a tennis player. She would walk hurriedly around the house in her short tennis skirt, getting ready for her doubles game. The phone would ring with tennis partners calling about strategy. The talk of her game would excite me.

Somewhere along the line I made a decision to get a PhD, to become a professor, and to author 10 books and teach around the world. In 2007, I started bike racing competitively and 6 months ago, I became a national bike racing champion.

I am the child of mother who made a sacrifice. If my mother were alive today I would not just encourage her to follow her dreams, I would beg her.

I walk my daughter to school. When I walk, I wearing my Lycra cycling kit ready to go on a training ride. I help my kids with homework. I am home every night for dinner and I cheer loudly at their games. Before my races, my son Ray tells me, “Ride like an animal” and before his games I tell him to “play like an animal”. We have a bond because we are both athletes.

I have had well meaning men tell me that their wife quit her job upon the birth of her child because “it was quote, best for the children”. I do not understand why it is best for a child to see a woman put her identity and dreams aside.

People judge me. My children judge me too. And they judge me to be a smart, strong mom. My daughter tells her friends that her mom is a professor at a university and a “professional” cyclist.

My daughter and I have a dream of doing a two-person time trial together. We will train together. We will cross the finish line together and we will celebrate the joy of the pursuit of our dreams. We are not on the sidelines of life.

Children love your passions, not your sacrifices.