If I had started this category when I started this blog, I imagine Sarah Palin would have been the first entry. I think it's important to recognize women who are living their lives with their priorities straight and their lives in balance.
Just yesterday I read about 22-year-old WNBA star Candace Parker, a player considered essential to the success of the league, who is expecting a baby in the spring. She is not the first WNBA star to have a child mid-career -- Lisa Leslie missed an entire season when she had a child -- but as the "new face" of the league there has been some grumbling by some fans and sports writers that Parker is letting everyone down. But overall, the league and coaches and teammates have been supportive.
Parker, who is married to NBA player Shelden Williams, told the Los Angeles Times that she wanted her children to grow up witnessing the athletic career of their young mother rather than arriving after it ends, and the league commissioner acknowledged that. “Candace can be a very usable symbol of how you can have a family and a career.”
Chances are that Parker won't have to miss the next WNBA season (although she relinquished a $1.5M payday from a winter league in Russia) as she has had great timing: It seems this pregnancy started right about when she helped lead Team USA to gold in Beijing, and she will deliver months before the start of the season.
But while Sheryl Swoopes played six weeks after giving birth to her son back in 1997, Parker is not in any hurry to return to play. "The biggest thing for me is not a matter of if or when [I return] but of coming back with a good balance in my life."
This mom-to-be seems to have her priorities in order. She recognizes that her career and family do not need to be at odds. And most importantly -- Parker says motherhood is "a blessing" that will "make me a fuller, happier person."
You got that right.