Guest Contributor: Lauren Blake Crandall

Posted on Feb 11, 2017 in active parent, blog

Guest Contributor: Lauren Blake Crandall







What Does Tom Brady Have that I Don’t? *

* Children who celebrate his accomplishments.
Like many of you, I sat in awe during the Super Bowl comeback staged by the New England Patriots. While millions watched Tom Brady take the stage after the game with his otherworldly cute children hanging around his neck, maybe folks were jealous of his beautiful wife. Or that he has the athleticism of a man 10 years younger. Or that he could finish a grinder of a game and still look fresh as a daisy.

Me, I had only one thought: How on earth did he get his children to celebrate his athletic success? Because, in my experience, children don’t give a hoot about their parents’ athletic feats of derring-do.

I row crew competitively, and have done so for 20 years. I train five to six days a week, year round. Since I started rowing I’ve moved four times, had a child, worked my way through demanding day jobs, started my own business, and yet persisted in rowing despite a million other distractions that try to pull me away from it.

This isn’t at all unusual for the masters athlete.

Perhaps you are a masters athlete, too. Perhaps you understand that the sacrifices you make for your athletic craft are many and relentless. Adults seem to get it. At parties, casual acquaintances with less ambitious athletic goals are bowled over when they learn that you run marathons or ultramarathons, ski the Birkie, swim San Francisco Bay, finish Ironmans, squat twice your body weight, or participate in little-known fringe sports like curling, cricket, or rowing. They surround you, looks of awe on their envious faces, and ask a million questions. You feel a bit like Tom Brady yourself.

Children, however, aren’t impressed. Especially if they are related to you.

Take my daughter, for instance. I entered my first ever USRowing Masters Nationals Championship regatta when she was three. I rowed for two days in eleven races against the best and the strongest rowers in the United States. As fate would have it, I left New Jersey with several hard-earned medals to show for my years of toil. Knowing her love of all things sparkly, I arrived home and asked my daughter, “Do you want to wear my medals?”

“No, thank you.” (At least there was a “thank you” in there. Score one for parenting.)

I was hurt. What about the toddlers I’d seen at the Twin Cities Marathon cheering loudly and holding cute signs for their running parents? You didn’t have to stand outside in weather for hours to watch me. And I had medals, kid! Medals!

No use. I chocked it up to her being too young to understand.

But her advancing years did nothing to alter her indifference. When she was six I came home from an early morning practice, over the moon after finding out I’d been chosen to row in a boat with fantastically accomplished teammates at a prestigious regatta. I told her all about it while I made breakfast.

“OK, Mom. May I please have cream cheese on my bagel?” (At least there was a “may I please,” in there.)

As time went on, my rowing feats yielded only polite, clipped responses from my progeny. (That is, unless I happened to hug or kiss her after a workout. Any post-workout displays of affection made her coil in horror, because I smelled “like the garbage can.”)

One day, I had an arresting thought. Maybe she needs to see it! Witness firsthand the grace of rowing! See my long 8+ full of strong females (plus me) slicing through the water on the way to victory! What an example of raw strength and power! Girls need positive role models like me…I mean, us!

Since the Twin Cities aren’t a hot bed of competitive rowing (read: 6 months a year of frozen water), my hometown competitions happen but twice a year. So when my fall race arrived, I was ready. She’d see how great rowing was. How great we were.

How great I was.

Here’s how I imagined it: I’d row through the finish line (in first place, of course), collapsing over my oar, tired but smiling. I’d look to the shore, and see my husband and daughter, cheering wildly and holding a sign that says, “I WANT TO BE YOU WHEN I GROW UP!”

Here’s how it came down: The day of the race, as I’m running out the door after finally finding my lucky water bottle and hoping that my racing uniform is clean, my daughter begs and pleads to stay home instead of watching me race. I dash out the door, asking my husband (also a non-rower, but a little more sympathetic that our kiddo) to handle this.

He makes her go to the race.

As I finish, slumping over my oar, breathing like a locomotive, grateful to have lived, I hear my husband’s cheers. From my daughter, I hear…well, nothing. And cute homemade signs? Nowhere to be seen.

I ask her about it later-why she didn’t cheer. “I was too self conscious to yell,” she explains.


These days, my rowing training continues at the same breathless pace. I’ve backed off on efforts to gain my daughter’s rapturous approval. I cling to the hope that someday she’ll be impressed with my rowing accomplishments and maybe even a little proud.

And someday, maybe someday, she’ll act a little bit like Tom Brady’s kids.




About the author: Lauren Blake Crandall


With 20+ years of rowing experience, Lauren has medaled in some of the most prestigious regattas in the U.S. and Canada, including the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, USRowing Masters Nationals, Canadian Masters Nationals, Schuykill Navy Day, and the FISA World Rowing Masters Regatta. She holds a Level I USRowing Coaching Certification, and has coached high school rowing, adult learn-to-row, and indoor rowing classes–sharing her love of the sport with aspiring rowers of all ages.

She rows out of Minneapolis Rowing Club, where according to her dad she only gets to row July 3-5th before the water freezes. She lives with her husband, her daughter, and her St. Bernard, all of whom are decidedly non-rowers (but they have other great qualities).

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