Photos: Rebeccah Wassner

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.


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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.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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