In some exciting news, we're all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Kramer's beautiful Sophie Grace and I can’t help but feel nostalgic about the chaotic, life-changing and - I’ll say it honestly – turbulent rollercoaster of bringing our baby boy Xavier into the world. With a child, you’re quickly presented with the challenge of trying to be great parents, partners and committed players. My journey like most has been filled with ups and downs, but it has positively challenged me in ways I never imagined possible.
Like many of you dedicated people out there, my pre-baby, pre-game and somewhat OCD routine consisted of only eating chicken breast, black rice and vegetables, total relaxation, dominating TV with basketball and asking my wife for little less chit-chat (and for those of you who know her, know she will talk your ear off if you give her half a chance, so it was a big ask). I could never have imagined how a newborn would impact the routine I'd practiced for 10 years. However as soon as I held him in my arms, I launched into action mode, changing diapers, cleaning vomit, bathing him, enduring many sleepless nights and tripling my coffee intake to enable a semblance of coordination.
My wife gave birth in Panevezys, Lithuania, and like many other births it wasn’t too smooth. We didn’t have an English speaking doctor and we weren’t expecting some of the local methods, but like many amazing women out there, Bria never complained, she anchored down and focused on bringing Xavier into the world as quickly and safely as possible amid circumstances she would never have asked for and it was in this moment I realised the lengths she was willing to traverse for me to test myself at this level. I was honestly left speechless and overwhelmed and knew that this was all a team effort and how I managed parenting and being an athlete would ultimately demonstrate my appreciation.
The day Xavier was born, I hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours and I needed to play. Despite going into the game feeling like I wouldn’t be able to catch a ball if I tried, let alone shoot it, I somehow drew on an energy store that I think is only accessible once you’re a parent. Despite logic, I had a breakout game. I learnt that my life might not be as orderly as the pre-baby days, but that it didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to be able to perform at the same level.
I knew my biggest challenge would be becoming more efficient to get the most out of each minute. Before Xavier, I used to work-out before practice for 90 minutes. These sessions turned into high-intensity, well-planned 45-minute sessions. No chit chat, no dawdling. Just straight to it. I used to wait to the last minute to get my dinner sorted, this quickly changed to meal prep and ensuring I had the right food on hand at any minute as I no longer had time for a last-minute dash to the shops.
Once I relied on a daily nap. Now sometimes I get this, but sometimes I don’t. Now I focus on putting down my phone (and subsequently Clash of Clans) and reading before I go to bed to help me fall asleep faster and feel more rested.
Pre-baby I found it difficult to vocalise that I needed help. Now we truly understand the expression it takes a village to raise a child and we’ve invested heavily in building an amazing village to support myself and Bria, as she works remote full-time also. We don’t feel the need to fly the hero flag anymore. We understand it’s about balance and the end game and we’re committed to the end game.
I’ve learnt to trust the energy store that parents can access to keep pushing on. I’ve learnt that I can’t control every variable and to believe that with the right investment and commitment even if there are some rocky days and results I’m not happy with, it will wash out in the mix and work out for the best.
Kids truly do put everything into perspective. I used to get really down after a tough loss or if I didn’t play as well as I wanted too, but after Xavi came into this world my perspective completely changed. When I get home from a game and I feel sorry for myself, seeing his smiley face instantly changes my mood. He doesn’t care about how I played, he can’t talk so he won’t talk ball with me and seeing him and my wife is an instant reminder of my main priorities in life and that if they are happy and healthy, I am doing well.
Wishing Chris and Allie all the best of luck as they take on the next chapter of their family journey! For me – and I’m sure I can speak for most parents out there, it is truly one of the most special times of my life!
Until next time.