Brenna Huckaby began competing in Para snowboarding in 2013, three years after her right leg was amputated due to osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Over the next several years, Huckaby earned four world championship medals – snowboardcross gold and banked slalom silver in 2015 and gold in both in 2017 – before making her Paralympic debut at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, where she again swept the gold medals. This Mother’s Day, Huckaby wrote a blog post for TeamUSA.org on how she juggles training and competing with raising her daughter Lilah, who will turn 3 on May 21.
In 2016 my training drastically changed because I became a mother. I completely underestimated how difficult it would be to juggle returning to sport at the highest level while simultaneously raising an infant. My days no longer consisted of training whenever I felt like it and for however long I wanted. I now had to plan out every moment of my day for it to fit in with my daughter’s schedule.
I've been competing and raising a child for three years now and I would love to tell you I have it all under control and I’m on a set schedule, but that simply isn’t true. We make do with the days as they come. If you’re reading this to find quick and perfect ways to juggle sports and motherhood, you’ve come to the wrong place.
I will say that it’s possible. You can “have it all,” as they call it. You need to get creative and find what works for you and your family.
One thing for certain is motherhood has been the greatest gift for me professionally. My motivation, drive and ambition is stronger than ever. I’m no longer competing for myself, so it’s easy to wake up in the morning and train knowing that everything I do is contributing to my success, which provides for my family.
Mindset is one of the most important pieces in juggling careers with parenting. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and inadequate, but taking a moment to see it in a different, more positive light is the best thing you can do. For instance, I see every opportunity as a training experience.
If I’m not sleeping at night? It’s just jet lag training.
If I’m on the road for a competition and struggling to find a bathroom to pump in – only to find out my pump is broken? Oh, that’s just adversity training.
If I walk into the bedroom after leaving my toddler alone for half a second only to catch my toddler seconds before she decides to jump off the dresser? Only the best reaction time training you can get.
Motherhood isn’t easy. There’s no rule book and there is no one size fits all. You roll with the punches as they come and see every second as a way for you to grow and learn. When you’re growing your mind and what you can do, those little eyes watching will grow just as fast. I always tell new parents that your life, goals and dreams don’t end when you have a child. They just get to be a part of the process.