Photo Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty Images; Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for P&G
How does it feel when your son is a gold medal favorite in the Olympic decathlon, an event often viewed as crowning the best all-around athlete in the world? It's the event Bruce Jenner won in 1976 that made him a household name.
Add to the tremendous expectations the fact that your son broke the world record in the decathlon at the U.S. Trials and you have a "permanent swarm of butterflies," says Roslyn "Roz" Eaton, mom of decathlete Ashton Eaton. The butterflies will remain there, she said, until Thursday at 11:00 p.m. London time (6:00 p.m. ET), which is when the decathlon competition will likely end.
"It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff is what it’s like," said Eaton during an interview at the P&G Family Home, as she described how she'll feel during the two days of events which begin Wednesday. "I hold my breath a lot, I rock back and forth, you know, I pray, I am doing everything I can do, I mean what is it that we wouldn’t ever do for our children."
Every mom of an Olympian is special, but Roz, whom we met back in May when we interviewed her and Ashton, may be in an even more exclusive category. She's a single mom although she's the first to say she didn't raise her 24-year-old son alone, crediting family, friends and coaches with helping her every step of the way.
Watch Roslyn Eaton talk about being a single mom of an Olympian.
"It takes a village," she said. "Having said that, being Ashton’s mother has been an adventure but I will say this, he is a self-made man in my opinion in the way that he woke up every morning ever since he was little and made the choice of what kind of person he was going to be and as he’s grown up, what kind of man he’s going to be."
When Ashton was as young as five-years-old, mom says, he was jumping off trees and over benches, and unscrewing the tops and bottoms of brooms and mops, placing them apart and seeing how far he could jump. "We didn’t know then, nobody in our family knew he was going to be an Olympian but as you look back on it collectively ... I would say unofficially, he’s been training for the Olympics his whole life basically," the proud mom said.
She overcomes the nerves, she says, by spending plenty of time at the P&G Family Home where she can connect with other moms of Olympians. "I can look at someone and say two things and they know exactly what I'm talking about," she said. "It's just like Little League moms or basketball moms, when your kid is in Little League, you can talk to your other moms about Little League ... This is the same thing but this is the Olympic Games, it’s not Little League. And it's just amazing."
I told Roz there was just one thing that American women were disappointed about before Ashton even started competing. She looked worried and asked, "What?" I then smiled and said the fact that he's no longer available. Ashton is engaged to Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen, who placed 11th in London. They plan to get married next summer.
But before the nuptials, Ashton has some business to take care of, and mom says she fully expects to be crying when she watches her son compete in Olympic Stadium.
"It really hasn’t hit me," she said. "Don’t wake me because it’s a really good dream and I want to keep having it, but it’s so crazy, how many people does this happen to in the world?"
Not many, and that's why Roz and Ashton Eaton now belong to a very exclusive club.
The cost of Kelly's travel to London was paid by Procter & Gamble.