Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mamas Make the Difference: An Interview with Ondina López


Lately, I've been thinking about moms. It seems like over the last year or more, I keep learning about all these really interesting and successful people who say they owe it all to their mami. And I know that without my own mother - always supportive, always proud - there's just so much I wouldn't have done and accomplished during my life.

My parents divorced when I was just two years old, so my mom had the difficult job of providing for me on her own. But she had my grandmother and my great grandmother there to help her. They would care for me while she was working full-time so that she could afford to send me to good schools and give me opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise. And she always made it clear that my education was one of the most important things in my life. There was never any question about me going to college. It was a given.

And now that I have children, I totally get it. I understand the desperate desire a mother has for her children to grow up to be healthy, whole, and happy. And to want to help them succeed as best I can. But sometimes I wonder if I know what I'm doing, or if I'm doing the right thing.

So when I had the opportunity to participate in an interview with Ondina López, the mother of not one, but two 2012 Olympic Games hopefuls - Steven and Diana López - I jumped! In fact, ALL of her children, Steven, Jean, Mark, and Diana, are at the world-elite level in Taekwondo. Steven, Mark, and Diana made history when they each won gold at the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships, becoming the first three siblings in any sport to claim World Championship titles at the same event.

That's pretty impressive, no?

And it makes me wonder, what does it take to raise Olympians?

Steven is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and bronze medalist. He will be competing in the 80kg division at this year’s Games. Crest & Oral-B Complete have also partnered with Steven’s mother, Ondina López, to highlight the importance mom’s support can play in an athlete’s success.

Below are some of Ondina's tips for raising successful children.

What was your morning routine like when your kids were growing up and were in school at the same time they were training in Taekwondo?

Well, every morning I'd get up really early to organize the house, fix breakfast and lunches, then I'd get myself and the kids ready so I could take them to practice or events. I always made their lunches for them to take to their events because it made things easier for them. And I am happy to say that they never ate out. They always had homemade meals with fresh vegetables and fruit, that I prepared for them.

How would you maintain organization in your household with four kids and a set schedule?

La familia has to be united and everyone works together. It's all about maintaining a balance.

How did you maintain your Latin culture at home?

They always knew that I only allow Spanish to be spoken at home. And we read lots of books and ate Latin meals, things like that.

What was the general perception of education like in your home?

My kids always knew that school was important. Homework had to be done. They knew that during the week it was "work" time and that weekends were their free time. We were lucky because our school was very supportive and was great about letting the kids do their homework on the road when they had a competition. And fortunately, Taekwondo really taught them self-discipline, to be responsible.

And today, my kids talk to a lot of school children and encourage them to do a good job and keep them motivated.

What advice do you have for other families with children who are Olympic hopefuls?

The biggest advice I have is to have patience, lots of patience. And love. Affection and support is most important. I was always there to hug and love them whenever they didn't do as well as they liked.

And to tell your kids that there are no limits to what they want to accomplish. Only the sky is the limit!

You will love this short video of Ondina and Steven and see how much she loves them.




I'm really thankful to Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) whose partnership with Steven López on the importance of how a healthy oral care routine is an important part of his winning moments led to this interview opportunity. (And as a mother with two kids who spend a LOT of time at the dentist, I am a devoted oral health care supporter!!)

To learn more about P&G Oral Care Olympic Games partnership, please "Like" Crest on Facebook.

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Crest and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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