Motherhood, the state of being a mother. The quality of having the tenderness, the warmth and the affection of a mother. Being a mom is something I have always wanted. But I struggled with the idea of giving up my dream of being a professional athlete. The fear of losing everything, my sponsorships, my fitness, my career was a reality I was willing to take on in order to fulfill my desire to be a mom. As I held her in my arms on February 20th, 2021, and felt her love and the bond we immediately had, I realized it’s okay to do both, to love both, and to have both. The adversity I experience outside of motherhood is what makes me a stronger mom!
2020 was a very unique year for many professional athletes. I realized after we returned home from Crankworx Rotorua in March and the country shut down all non-essential everything, that most likely all of our events would be cancelled. I am 32, and I knew I always wanted to be a mom. Kyle and I had been talking about when was the right time to try, but to be completely honest, I wasn’t ready in previous years. I wanted more from my career. I still had so many goals I wanted to reach, and I wasn’t ready to slow down. 2020 forced me to slow down. In June I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. It was Go Time…
I waited until September to tell my sponsors. I was nervous as to how they would respond. I remember following Allyson Felix’s career. If you aren’t familiar with Allyson Felix, she is the most decorated woman in US track and field history. In 2018 she announced she was pregnant. At the time her biggest sponsor was Nike. I remember reading the article that Nike offered her a pay cut of 70% in case her performance saw subpar results as she recovered from childbirth. This woman has 9 Olympic medals! And she was struggling with sponsors… I remember reading it and thinking, “oh man, how will my career survive then.”
When I finally told my sponsors, I received the exact opposite response. I felt so relieved, and almost lucky… They were so excited, so supportive and very encouraging that I would be able to continue my role as an athlete/ambassador in the sport. That says a lot about the people who stand behind me. I also realized that it is because of women like Felix that I am able to still do both. All the women before me that proved being a mom doesn’t stop you from reaching your goals professionally. Their sacrifices, hard work and determination helped pave the way for me, and I can only hope that my story can help pave the way, or at least inspire other women who are thinking of starting a family.
I have heard people say, “once you have a kid your life is over…” I couldn’t disagree more with this statement. Is racing harder, yes. Do you need more support, Heck Yes. But is your life over, No… It’s different. You adapt, change your mindset, and move forward knowing some days will be harder than others. But in the end, it is so worth it. In making this video my goal was to show my journey of becoming a new mom and finding my path, but also being a mom does not define who I am, I am still Rachel Strait, just with a beautiful baby girl! And I am so happy and honored DEITY wanted to partner up and make it happen.
I hope you all enjoy “Don’t Define Me”.