"I Don't Want You to Tell Me What To Do Anymore"

I think kangaroos have it right- keeping their babies in their pouches and all. I wish I could keep my son with me always, or freeze time, or at least know I’d be able to remember every detail of these years. It breaks my heart and simultaneously makes my heart explode with joy and pride when I see how fast he’s is growing up. I’m obsessed 24/7 with his wellbeing, while he’s simply busy doing his thing and figuring out the world. He clarified my role for me one day when he was about a year old and I was laying on the floor breast-feeding him. When he finished he got up and stepped on my boob as he scampered away to play. Stepped on my boob. Such a microcosm of motherhood. I realized, 1) as a result of doing it’s job of feeding you, my boob is now in a condition where it can lay flat on the floor and be stepped upon; 2) in return for the nourishment and dedication, you step on it and go about your business. Sounds kind of terrible (well it is terrible for my boobs) but really, it’s exactly what I want for him in his early childhood- to be carefree and know that things are ok and he is surrounded by loving adults.

He's 7, I think I can let go of these preschool books.
He’s 7, I think I can let go of these preschool books.

Of course I don’t want him to live his life as an oblivious, self-centered being. Yet at the same time, in this harsh world I want him to get to have the security of being a kid. It’s so rewarding to shape him into a responsible, caring person and see those self-centered, baby-ish qualities begin to slowly dissipate.   I just want him to get to be a little boy while it’s time for him to be one, and I want to be with him every step of the way.

I feel incredibly fortunate that over the past few years I’ve been able to make lifestyle choices that generally allow me to have a flexible schedule and have more time and energy for my son. This is something I’ve wanted since becoming a mother- more time with him. The flip side is that I do have to travel more, and I’ve often been asked how I do this as a single mom. The answer is, I co-parent with his dad, I can often set my own travel/work schedule, and my mother plays a role in helping my family/schedule work.

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Recently I faced the biggest conflict yet when it comes to managing athletic aspirations/opportunity and my family. I was presented with the opportunity to play in the newly formed NPGL. Participation would have afforded me income, development as an athlete and frankly, a great deal of fun and excitement. I jumped into the process enthusiastically, but when I assessed things more closely I saw quite a few significant challenges. The team and I were trying to make it work, but it began to feel like everyone involved would have to move heaven and Earth to make it happen. I appreciate the opportunity and the team’s effort immensely. In my heart I feel that the strain of participation would be too much on my family.

The day I was reviewing my NPGL contract was an unusual day. My son got sick and my mother happened to be in town visiting. I was supposed to go do a workout and even though grandma was there my son really wanted me to stay with him. Since he was feeling so ill I stayed with him- and it was a huge blessing to be able to do that.  It highlighted for me, at an opportune moment, that more than anything I want to maximize my time with my family.

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Would it be an accomplishment for me to become a professional athlete through the NPGL? I think so. But it’s important for me not just to pursue and achieve goals but the way in which I pursue and achieve those goals. What happens along the way is more important than any one accomplishment for me. As a mother my biggest goals are to maximize our quality of life (not just materially) and to be a woman he can look up to as a role model. If the opportunity is meant to be, I believe it will present itself in another way. In the meantime, there is no chance I will regret being more present and more available at home. It’s ok if I occasionally have to miss the opportunity to compete. What I don’t want to miss, is walking side by side with my boy and feeling him reach up to hold my hand.


Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

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  • Great call- my kids are 4 and 6 and I’d feel the same, these years are precious and I sometimes wish I could freeze the moments they want to hold my hand forever. You’re an amazing athlete and a strong woman, but the thing I love most about your posts is how the love and friendship you have with your little guy shines through xx

  • Wow! I continue to admire you for your priorities you set. What a fortunate little guy your don is to have you for his Mom. Your heart is as big as your athletic talent.
    I have three grandsons and two of them are your little one’s age and I see how quickly they try to be big boys and how important it is to be there when they do decide to be little again:)
    You will not regret this time of your life. Rock on Mommy!

  • I’m not a mom, and not a crier, but I choked up a little. Excellent perspective on life in general. Much admired.

  • This is my favorite blog post you’ve ever written. I love your brutal honesty, your ability to laugh at the boob stepping, and your commitment to raising your son.

  • Once again you have written a great post! I love how you still try to find the balance and still struggle to figure it all out. Mainly because I think we women try to do that every day. You are an inspiration and your words always hit home for me. Thank you.

  • First of all, watching you at the games was beautiful. Hell yes. Secondly, I am also a single mom and I know the difficulties of trying to work around a support network that probably doesn’t afford quite the support of a traditional home with two parents.. Which makes your accomplishments even more freaking impressive. You are one heck of a role model. Keep being you and inspiring so many of us… Ps my son is 13 now… It gets easier but yeah, I wish I could remember more of the moments. I often second guess if I did enough with him.. I never regret not being able to go for more prestigious jobs that would have taken me away even more.