Photo Credit: Kerri Lee Walsh
This Olympics is a whole lot different for two-time gold medalist in beach volleyball, Kerri Walsh Jennings.
This time Kerri has two little boys, Sundance, 2, and Joseph, 3, whom she tries to get “hugs” from in between training and matches. She’s also battling pink eye, which is something any mom can relate to, but most moms don’t need to be swatting volleyballs on a beach in a quest for a third Olympic victory and battling pink eye at the same time!
This time Walsh Jennings also knows working moms everywhere are watching, hoping she’ll be an example of how you can be as great after you become a mom as before. “I think she understands that and I think that’s why she doesn’t want to let any of the working moms down, to show them you can do anything you want,” said Kerri’s mom, Margie Walsh, during an interview at the P&G Family Home following a barbecue saluting athletes and their moms. “She wants to show all the moms it can be done and she wants to have all the moms proud of her and inspired by her, like she’s inspired by them,” the proud mom herself added.
When I tried to take some of the pressure off, telling Kerri’s mom that working moms – including this one – won’t be upset if she doesn’t win the gold and comes home with silver or bronze or no medal at all, she didn’t even want to go there. “We won’t talk about that, next question, next question,” she said with a laugh, as the goal remains trying to win another gold.
Kerri’s husband, Casey Jennings, who is also a beach volleyball player, is taking care of the kids in London along with Kerri’s aunt. She sees them a few times a day, and for some meals, but she’s not staying in the same hotel. “That’s a good thing,” said Margie. “This is her job, so she needs to focus on that.”
The boys, says grandma, are “loving life.” “They just think this is a fun experience.” Their aunt has taught them to yell, “Go USA, Go May Walsh (Kerri’s partner is Misty May-Treanor), Go Turtle (Kerri’s nickname) and Go Mommy,” she added. The only time they're confused is when they arrive at Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball in the heart of London, and Kerri is not on the court. “We came a match early, they go, 'That’s not Mommy, where’s Mommy?' It is the cutest thing.”
This Olympics is also “bittersweet,” said Kerri’s mom, because Kerri's longtime partner is retiring. “This one’s special,” said Margie. “And I think she’s feeling it … I mean this one’s an emotional one for her.”
“This one’s probably a little more difficult, she’s a mom and she’s a wife, and Misty’s leaving her and she’s older, but it’s wonderful, you know the tough things in life are what you get (the) most rewards out of,” she said.
Kerri, you are already an inspiration to all of us working moms. Just getting to the Olympics sends a huge message about what working moms can do!
Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage and is in London covering the 2012 Summer Olympics. You can read all of her daily live blogs here and follow her Olympic tweets on Twitter (@kellywallacetv).
The cost of Kelly's travel to London was paid by Procter & Gamble.