A Not-So-Grand Slam.
by Vicki Larson
There’s been a lot of hoopla in the world of mothers and athletes ever since tennis player Kim Clijsters — her husband and 18-month-old daughter watching — nabbed the U.S. Open, the first mom to win the grand slam title in 29 years.
It’s an amazing comeback story for the 26-year-old who retired a few years ago to become a wife and mom, and who credits her husband, Antwerp Giants basketball player Brian Lynch, for giving her support.
While Clijsters was swinging her way to the top, another tennis mom has been making her comeback, too — Sybille Bammer, a 29-year-old Austrian who lives with her boyfriend, Christophe Gschwendtner, father of their 8-year-old daughter, Tina.
Bammer, who lost her record-breaking run at the U.S. Open in the quarterfinals, also credits her partner for supporting her. And, boy, did he; It was Gschwendtner’s idea that Bammer, then 21, get back to playing tennis after giving birth, and to make it easier for her, he gave up his career as a manufacturing engineer for five years to be Mr. Mom.
Now that Bammer’s back on the tennis and sponsorship track again and Tina’s in school full time, Gschwendtner has returned to work — he started his own electrician’s business — and the jokes from his friends about his decision to stay home have stopped. “Now my life is more interesting. It’s like I have two lives,” he told the New York Times.
His life is more interesting? As a mom who’s been a SAHM and is now a full-time employed divorced mom, I find his statement interesting. Is Gschwendtner saying that staying at home and caring for a child is uninteresting, or that the parent staying at home becomes uninteresting? Or both?
Is Gschwendtner slamming the stay-at-home parenting world?
Let’s face it: We all know moms who drone on and on about their kids and all things mommy, the Dummy Mummy that Observer columnist Rachel Cooke says “fetishise childbirth, and obsess about all that follows it, in a way that is almost, if not quite, beyond satire, and which makes me feel a bit sick.”
Still, I know plenty of employed moms who can hold their own with any SAHM in the droning department, so I’m not totally convinced it has anything to do with whether a mom stays home or not.
But if you read some of the chat and community boards on various parenting Web sites, there are a lot of stay-at-home mothers who feel isolated, pissed off and bored. There are just so many trips to the local park, Mommy & Me classes, sparkly arts-and-crafts projects, supermarket tantrums and “But why, Mommy?” questions a woman can take before she hits her, uh, break point.