Juggling motherhood and career can be tough. But what happens when your career almost demands that you postpone motherhood until it’s possibly too late? For women athletes, this is often the case. A woman’s peak athleticism is also her peak fertility time, and balancing the two isn’t easy, as number one ranked LPGA star Cristie Kerr has discovered.
At 32, golf pro Cristie Kerr is just three years from the age doctors say a woman’s fertility sharply drops off. But just before she reached the top spot, Kerr said, “I feel like I’m just coming into my golfing prime. I’m just starting to be in the best shape of my life.” For now, Kerr plans to stay focused on her golf game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s willing to give up the idea of being a mother too. “Some things,” she says, “you can’t foresee.”
Kerr moved into the number one position with the departure of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, both of whom retired to focus on their families. Both of these ladies say they feel that they accomplished their goals and felt it was time to move on to a new chapter in their lives. Sorenstam has won 93 international tournaments and has raked in over $22 million dollars. She had her first child, a baby girl named Ava, in September of 2009. In just eight years as a professional, Ochoa had 30 wins and has hosted her own tournament since 2008. She married Andres Conesa in December 2009.
Still, it is possible to be both a mother and an athlete. Nancy Lopez, an LPGA champion during the 1980s, won almost half of her titles as a mother. Whether these women athletes are postponing having kids, retiring to raise their families or juggling both, what is most important is that they have all made the choice that makes them happy.
Because in the end, it really is about what makes you happy. Lorena Ochoa wasn’t willing to lose out on watching her family grow and so she retired. She says she remembers thinking, “I’m going to try really hard to focus on golf, and I’m going to lose valuable years of my life, and what for? So I can win maybe four more tournaments? I want to live a more-normal life. I want to spend time with my family and not miss the important events like birthdays and baptisms.” She didn’t quit because it was too hard or she wasn’t good enough. And if she’s happier now, then more power to her. And if Cristie Kerr wants to postpone having kids to focus on her career, we’ll be cheering her on at this week’s United States Open.