Recently, Serena Williams competed in her 18th singles tournament in Wimbledon. Although she was runner up to Angelique Kerber from Germany, she has actually already won that title seven times and has an amazing 779 career match wins.
This year was notable for one major reason. Serena is 10 months postpartum from the birth of her daughter. She delivered the baby via emergency cesarean section, and Serena suffered from serious medical complications in the following months.
After finishing second in the 2018 Wimbledon, Serena chatted on court about the tournament. In that interview, she states, “To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried.”
Serena is arguably one of the greatest women to ever play the game of tennis. There is no question about that.
But let me tell you something, moms, Serena represents every mom. Or, better yet, every mom has a little bit of Serena in her.
Now, I know that she has a few things in her favor. I can’t say for sure but I assume that she has “people” who are helping her along the way. The trainer, the coach, the massage therapist, the dietitian, the husband, the list could go on and on. And I, too, will admit that when I think about that, it is easy to say to myself that I could never accomplish that much because it is mostly me (and the husband).
But that simply isn’t true. Are we all destined for a professional sports career? Probably not. Can we all identify a challenge and a goal and work for it? Absolutely.
Once when I had a two-year-old and newborn, I went to story time at a local library. As I watched one child blissfully sleep and the other carefully complete a craft, I listened to a group of moms chat. I found that most of what they were doing was complaining about … you guessed it, being a mom! One mom stated that she spends all day doing things like cutting shapes out of construction paper and never has time for anything other than her children. What???
These moms were complaining about something that I know they loved. But I get it. Motherhood is rewarding even if it is difficult and tedious at times.
The question was, did they have something else they loved for themselves as well?
Do they remember the dreams they had before kids or things they wanted to accomplish? Do they still want to work towards those things or have new personal goals?
After I had my third baby in less than five years, I decided I needed something for myself. While it was somewhat of an impulsive decision, I signed up for the Austin Half Ironman. I wasn’t sure how I was going to train but knew I needed a little direction and organization for myself. There was a lot of getting up early and a lot of pumping or nursing the baby right before and right after a workout but it all worked out.
On my son’s four-month birthday, I completed the half Ironman in a little over six hours. I nursed him right before I got in the water and immediately after I crossed the finish line on the run. I figured that if either one of us really needed to nurse in the middle, I would just nurse him during the bike to run transition!
You probably just read that last paragraph and made a judgment about me based on that. Or maybe you said, well that is her and I could never do something like that. Here’s the thing: It seemed impossible before I tried. And if I am honest, it seems impossible looking back on it now. But it was wonderful to have something for myself in the midst of the chaos of three tiny children, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
It is important to maintain a little piece of yourself as you navigate motherhood.
Serena may be a fierce competitor, but she had motherhood on her list of goals along with being a tennis superstar.
What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish outside of being a mom? We spend a lot of time planning for our children, but it is just as important to plan for ourselves. I encourage you to attempt challenges that benefit you.
- Create a list of 3-7 goals.
- Think about what is needed to accomplish those goals (e.g., time, money, training, resources).
- Create a hierarchy for that list and pick one to start.
- Develop a timeline for the first goal.
- Tell everyone what you are doing. This helps for accountability on your part and support from others.
- Get started.
- Keep track of your progress.
- If you hit a speed bump, reframe and keep going (or go back to number 3).
- Meet your goal.
OK, so I can’t promise you that everything can be accomplished in 10 simple steps. It might take three steps or 3000. The point is that you can do it. Don’t be afraid to try.
After all, we can’t all play at Wimbledon, but we can all be a little like Serena.