For #MotherlyStories |
Why would I take a step back from my career as a professional triathlete to have baby number two, just as it was getting started to build full-swing into a post-baby #1 comeback?
Some may consider it poor timing, but my motivation was clear: I wanted my daughter Amy (age 2) to be a sister.
I’m a sister three times over, and a twin. Growing up, four girls in the house didn’t feel unique or all that special. My twin and I are the second and third kids, and like a typical middle child, I spent a lot of time wishing I was an only.
Fast forward many years later to when my twin sister and best friend, Laurel, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma just after graduating from college as a standout athlete.
Laurel had just moved to New York, was working a corporate job, supporting herself, and enjoying being a twenty-something in the city. Suddenly, her world changed from planning fun outings to planning chemo sessions.
It was a scary and difficult time for Laurel, but our family, and the unwavering support of her three sisters rallied behind her. We were there to see her through the many dark days and to make a big deal out of the smallest of milestones. Her sisters held her hand when she had to tell her friends “I have cancer.” And encouraged her to start a new life and career when her doctor at Sloan-Ketttering uttered the words “you are cancer-free.”
I was a rookie triathlete at that time of Laurel’s treatment and recovery.
A few years later, Laurel followed me, and her dreams, into the sport.
She has become one of the most competitive triathletes in the country, and the first cancer survivor to win an iron distance race (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).
We now train and compete together, helping each other perform at our best, both on and off the race course. We draw strength from the tough times we endured together.
I’ve learned over the years that siblings are a gift unlike any other. They are unconditional confidants, they are there to guide you when you don’t know where to turn, to push you when you need to be pushed. And most of all, siblings are there to make you strong when you need it the most.
My daughter, Amy, knows her aunt as a confident and powerful woman and not a sick cancer patient.
She recently told me wants to be a strong and fast and a “racer” just like her mommy and her aunt LaLa.
It was then that I realized that as a mother, the best gift I could give my daughter would be the chance to be a sister.
That would be more precious than winning any race.
Rebeccah Wassner is a professional triathlete and a three time winner of the New York City Triathlon. She has one daughter, Amy, and a second baby due in January 2016. When not training or parenting, Rebeccah develops healthy recipes for Athlete Food, the blog she started with her twin sister, Laurel, and their close friend.