10 Questions: Gabrielle Reece

It’s hard not to admire – and maybe even envy – a mom who says that her favorite family activity is to take her four-year-old child for an hour-long paddle on a 12-foot surfboard through the Pacific Ocean.

But would you expect anything less from Gabrielle Reece, a professional volleyball player turned model, author, magazine columnist, and television sports commentator?

“I love being with my daughter in nature,” says the 6’2” Reece. But the 37-year-old Nike spokesperson is hardly just about sports and the healthy life. She readily confesses to loving to sneak a little private time in front of the flat screen, the remote control in one hand and a piece of “good chocolate” in the other. And these are yet more reasons to love this Modern Mom: she’s real and she’s honest.

Gabby, as she’s known in the sports world, and her husband, surfer Laird Hamilton, live with daughter Reece Viola half the year in Malibu and the other half in Maui. In January, this genetically blessed family is not only welcoming the New Year, they are also welcoming a new baby, due that month. Here, Gabrielle shares with us her secrets for balancing motherhood with a career that takes her all over the globe.

What’s your definition of a Modern Mom?

A modern mom is a juggler. As silly as it seems she’s almost like the woman in the 70’s Charlie commercial. She really is bringing home the bacon, nurturing the family and trying to still be vavavoom. I think a modern mom is a little too hard on herself and sometimes beats herself up for not being perfect. I salute all moms.

What’s your secret to balancing career and family?

I really have the incredible luxury of being able to take my family with me to work. Since I don’t have to go to an office I am able to travel with my family, and can bring help for the situations that require an extra pair of hands. Of course, there is a lot of juggling that goes on, but just when I’m feeling stressed out I remind myself that I really have it good, take a deep breathe, and maintain perspective. I have learned how to practice “active ignoring” when I need too. Secret? None. I’m fumbling through like everyone else and doing the best I can.

What did your parents teach you about parenting?

My dad passed away when I was five years old and I didn’t always live with my mom. What I did learn from those situations was that love really was the most important thing. I had a lot of adult figures around me who gave me so much love. It really helped me deal with any difficulties I was experiencing. The other valuable thing I learned was to be as honest with a kid as you can (because they’re so smart and know anyway) and to learn to say sorry when you owe it to them.

What do you want to teach your children?

How to be responsible for their own happiness, find a passion, contribute to their world in the best way they can, and to help them develop who they are, as opposed to what I want or what the world wants them to be.

Who do you admire the most?

I admire the single mom who has two jobs, makes sure her family stays together, and doesn’t moan and complain. These kinds of people are the real heroes of life. I also admire women who manage to stay self defined even while they’re throwing themselves into the role of being a mother and wife. Even if she does it quietly, I love it when a woman doesn’t get swallowed up by all those other hats she’s wearing.

What’s your favorite family activity?

My husband will put my four year old on the front of his 12-foot surfboard and I will jump on a board and we’ll go for a stand up paddle. It may just be an hour, but I love to be outside with them, looking at and enjoying nature. At times I forget how much I enjoy it until he coerces me into going out, and then I ask myself, “Why don’t I do this more often?”

What is your greatest achievement?

I hope I haven’t achieved it yet. Ask me in another 50 years. Up until now it’s been child’s play. I will say 10 years of marriage is nothing to sneeze at.

What products can’t you live without?

Epicuren sunblock, Alafia African black soap for my face, 100% coconut oil for the skin on my body, mascara, and now that I have kids who fly with me often, I shamefully admit a portable DVD player.

What do you do when you’re feeling selfish?

Sit on my butt with the clicker in my hand and a sample of good chocolate. Or, I go to get my nails done.

What’s keeping you busy these days?

My four-year-old daughter, my website, workouts, fitness video projects (real-time pregnancy workouts and regular 15 minute workouts), my husband, the household, writing for Yahoo! health, and developing a TV show. No more than any other MODERN MOM!

by Alison Singh Gee