I remember the feeling all too well. About half way down the home stretch of my 400 meter race, I’d hit a wall as hard as the one it sometimes feels like I’m talking to while addressing Mister. And I didn’t even have anything to hurdle.
I can’t say the same for Lashinda Demus. She competes in a track and field event that I’d describe as torture. The distance is grueling for a sprint. The hurdles require more flex than any mother’s hips should have to give. And yet Lashinda does it and makes it look easy.
Lashinda has had a sparkling track career. National titles. NCAA championships. World championship. But she’s faced her share of hardships. At the 2008 Olympic trials, after leading for most of the race, she hit a wall that cost her a spot on the Olympic team by just .14 seconds.
It hasn’t all been easy for the track star off the track either. In 2007, after marriage and the birth of her twin boys, Lashinda gained 50 pounds. But she was determined to come back. And she did.
Lashinda’s story gets a happy ending in 2012. She made the Olympic team. In the semi-finals, they showed her boys yelling “Go, Mommy!” I had to leave the room to keep Husband from seeing the tears streaming down my cheeks. I felt a connection with her. Mother to mother. It sounds silly, but I was so proud of her. And I knew how proud those boys were too.
That is part of why I’m writing. I want to make my son proud of me. To show him that if you believe in your dreams and work hard enough, you can do anything. I also need to do this for me. And though I used to think that was selfish, I’m learning that it is so important. She’s jumping over roadblocks and I’m writing through them, but Lashinda and I are both learning the same thing: “If you want a career, go for it. If you want kids, have them. There’s no reason you can’t do both.”
After her 400 meter hurdle Olympic final, in which she won the silver medal, Lashinda vowed to come back to the Olympics get that gold. Four more years of hard work aren’t going to stop her from reaching her goal. Though my work is different, I know first hand the effort that goes in to mothering and pursuing a career. But it isn’t enough to stop me either. I’m just lucky the track I’m following requires me to keep my butt in a chair.
Who has inspired you writer to writer? What have you learned about your purpose for writing?