An Inspirational Lunch with Debbie Phelps

Written by Role Mommy contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum
Recently I was fortunate enough to attend an intimate blogger lunch with my new hero, Debbie Phelps. During the past week I read her memoir, A Mother For All Seasons. Reading the book, I felt like she was sitting next to me, telling me her life story. I was blown away by this single mother who worked as a teacher and now as a principal, all while raising three elite swimmers. She has two daughters and a son whom you may have heard of… record-setting gold-medal winner Michael Phelps. As hard as it was, she drove those kids to swim practice and swim meets and supported them 100%. So much of her life was dedicated to her children’s dreams.
I wanted to know her secret, how did/does she do it? Her advice was simple, take things slow and enjoy life. How often do we say we should do that and then forget? Not anymore. I am determined to channel my inner Debbie Phelps and have more patience with my kids, help out in my community more and support my families’ dreams. My daughter, age eight, recently had a piano recital where she chose to play a difficult song and even though there were only about 50 people in the audience, I was a nervous wreck! I held my breath while she was up there at the grand piano and felt like I was going to throw up. How in the world does Ms. Phelps sit at the OLYMPICS and watch her son swim in front of billions of people, competing for gold?! It’s amazing.
Listening to her speak with such enthusiasm and a huge smile on her face was truly inspiring. As if all that wasn’t enough, Ms. Phelps also serves on the Century Council and is an Ambassador for Ask, Listen, Learn, which encourages kids to “Say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking.”
Ask, Listen, Learn has an important message: kids and alcohol don’t mix. As unbelievable as it may seem, the average age of a person’s first alcoholic drink is eleven! It is never too early to talk to your “tween” about alcohol and Ask, Listen, Learn can help. According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study, nearly one third of 8th graders report they have tried alcohol once in their lifetime and 15% report they have been drunk. That is a pretty scary statistic. Through fun games for the kids to sound advice for parents and educators, Ask, Listen, Learn is a wonderful resource.
We as parents need to be good role models by drinking responsibly and not supplying underage children with alcohol!
I feel lucky to have met Ms. Phelps, her daughter Hilary as well as members of the Century Council. Even though my children are still young, this information will be very helpful in the years to come. I admire Ms. Phelps for taking time out of her busy schedule (getting ready for her trip to London!) to bring attention to this important cause.
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