Legendary volleyball player Gabrielle Reece has a new book out! Titled My Foot is too Big for the Glass Slipper, the book is all about the dynamics people go through in life and the “idea of the imperfection of it all.”
Gabrielle opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the inspiration behind her book, her three daughters, Izabella, 17, Reece, 9, and Brody, 5, and letting go of motherhood expectations. She goes on to discuss and defend her controversial “submissive quote.”
CBS: Tell us all about your new book, wonderfully titled My Foot is too Big for the Glass Slipper. What’s it all about? What inspired you to write the book? How about that fab title?
GR: “I used to write a blog called Death by Domestication, which was an open-dialogue about how crazy and challenging life could be. Rather than feel like life had to be perfect, I thought it would be more realistic to discuss how to keep that idea at bay. I was asked if I wanted to expand those ideas into a book. Quite frankly, after writing specifically about health and fitness for almost twenty years, I saw in the last several years that there really is a bigger conversation about why people aren’t eating right, making better choices, or finding the time to exercise. The stress is too high, there is no time, or those aspects are not a priority. It’s kind of part of a lifestyle.
The book is broken down into chapters that focus on these things, because people need dynamics to go through. The chapters focus on parenting, aging, trying to have a sex life with your partner, marriage, health, exercise, nutrition, and the idea of the imperfection of it all. The book also focuses on the humor in that imperfection. It was an interesting project for me, because the media has been so heavy-handed. Even though the book is pretty direct, it is written in a light and fun tone.
I never really thought about writing a book; I was writing a blog for a long time for fun. Maybe at the time I was examining my own situation. I decided to give it a go when I was approached. I wrote a book about fifteen years ago, so I understood not just the amount of work it takes, but also that you have to be really ready to put it out there. You just know what you’re in for.
The publishers didn’t like Death By Domestication, because they didn’t think anyone would get it. We joked around and had fun with the idea of ‘Happily Ever After,’ where the Prince comes and all that jazz. I have three daughters and I’m a big girl. I’m 6’3” and 175 pounds, and I also have a size 12 foot. Whenever I went shopping, I always had the idea that nothing was made for me. I think we all sometimes feel that way about something in our lives. We might think to ourselves, ‘I’m not fit for that, that is not fit for me.’ The book is a play on the whole fairy tale idea, and it is also literal because I am a bigger girl. Really, I think it represents how we all feel that something is not right about the ‘glass slipper.’”
CBS: You’re causing quite the controversy with the “submissive” quote. We’re guessing you were talking about embracing traditional gender roles in your marriage? Do you think our generation has pushed this away, to our detriment? Please explain/elaborate.
GR: “First and foremost, we all need to figure out how to make ourselves happy. Even with eating, people will say that they’re a vegan, a this, or a that. You have to take the time to figure out what works for you. It was never my intention to tell or direct people how to live. I was explaining my own situation, which I don’t think is unique because I have discussed it with a lot of my friends.
In this day and age, I am a real generational by-product. I was born in 1970, I went to school on an athletic scholarship, and I benefited greatly from it. I am also a part of the first generation of women who have experienced equality’s real benefits. I have developed into an alpha-female, and I wanted to discuss what happens when you’re taught, and none of us are, about co-habitation with an alpha-male. How do the roles get split up? People may say, ‘Equally!’ and to this I have to say, ‘Either you’re twenty and have never had kids, or maybe you’re in a same-sex relationship. Even in that situation, I believe that one person takes on the female energy and one person takes on the male energy.’
I said my comment to kind of pick fun at it, but I was also saying that I’ve tried it and it really seemed to work better in my home when I embraced the role of the female and of service. My husband also wanted his side. I didn’t communicate that you should be an idiot; pick a reciprocal partner. I would never say to women, ‘Be a doormat to somebody.’ Instead I was suggesting that you could find yourself in that role of service and maybe it plays to your strengths. That was a discovery for me and it has created a different flow and harmony in my house. My husband has taken on more traditionally masculine traits and I’ve taken on more traditionally female traits.
My quote was taken out of context; I don’t think someone is getting a leg-up on me if I’m like, ‘I’ll serve you in the ways that I know how to.’ I hope other people will do the same thing. My friends and I joked about how everyone is up-in-arms about how I said people should have love and sex on a regular basis. I talked to one of my daughters recently about the idea of being right. I said to her, ‘Listen, if there’s really no outcome that makes a difference, like we’re not taking a measurement of medication, then sometimes it just doesn’t really matter.’ I think that culturally, we sometimes get so up-in-arms and very defensive. This is your partner that you’re trying to live with peacefully. You shouldn’t say, ‘I’m going to dominate you and show you and be in charge.’ I hope no one brings that spirit to the relationship.
It’s been interesting to see how up-in-arms people get, but I’m okay with it. It’s cool because it’s created an interesting conversation. Women have to realize that of course I’m all about equality, but I think that we’re different and I don’t know why we keep trying to be the same. The fact that I birthed my kids, nursed my kids, and have a monthly every month clearly makes me a little bit different than my husband. There are also plenty of women who have worked it out with their guys that the roles are switched; the man takes on the female role and the woman takes on the male role. That’s awesome if that works for you. Katie Couric said, ‘We did everything equally.’ This made me think to myself, ‘No you didn’t. There’s just no way, it doesn’t work that way.’ You don’t have two head coaches on a team. When you go to wars, you don’t have two generals. I feel secure and strong enough to embrace my role of service.”
GR: “First of all, I had to let go of the business of motherhood. You have everything to make motherhood perfect; the perfect moms are watching the right videos and reading the right books so that they’re smarter. However, all of those things create more insecurity, and motherhood is already tricky enough.
After my second daughter was born, I realized that I would do the best I could do and accept that I make mistakes every day. I decided to not make it a contest, because that tends to happen. People will ask, ‘Where does your daughter go to school? What percentile is she in on the charts? Oh, my child can already do this and that!’ This makes me think to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s not a competition!’ Every child develops differently and has different strengths and different weaknesses. I am not going to attend every single Mommy and Me class. There is a discovery about parenthood and about who a child is. You have to try to allow the discovery to happen rather than try to put the child in everything.
Most of our children are not going to be rocket scientists or professional athletes. Try to relax a little and see what’s happening and see who they are. I know it is really hard, because everything is so competitive now. For example, part of my book jokes about birthday parties. I talked about how I don’t do excessive birthday parties featuring nine-stop stations with clown face painting, where I give the guests gift bags for coming to the party. It’s just not happening. Instead, we all gather, do some activities, eat tasty food, enjoy cake, and then the guests go home. There is a lot of pressure on moms! I am more interested in my kids’ manners, health, and hygiene than I am in them having the perfect hairstyle. I feel like we are always pressured to worry about how everything looks and we feel like we need to hit all these marks. At some point, it’s too much pressure on the moms and kids.
There are also exceptions. Let’s say you have a Type A kid who comes out, and that kid does gymnastics, keeps the room clean, and gets straight A’s. Guess what, that’s who the kid is and you can facilitate that. It’s all about understanding that individual kid.”
CBS: How are your three girls doing? How old are they now? What are they into? Do they all get along?
GR: “My seventeen-year-old daughter Izabella is going to Boulder, Colorado in August. My nine-year-old daughter Reece is doing really well; three weeks ago she decided she liked surfing, and it’s interesting because my husband is a surfer We’ve never pushed her and it’s interesting that something in her own brain switched and she wanted her dad to take her surfing. My five-year-old girl Brody is into this and that. She’s the one I’m keeping my eye out for.
They do all get along well. The younger kids are like two old ladies who bicker constantly. When I say something about it, the nine-year-old says, ‘Mom, sibling arguments are natural.’ I get that. They’re similar enough and different enough that they can find their way.”
CBS: You are also open about how your marriage to Laird almost came to an end. What do you think was the breakdown of your relationship? Please explain/elaborate, and tell us how you have worked toward a healthy union.
GR: “First of all, I didn’t understand my husband or myself well enough or know how to be married and work out situations. You learn that, unfortunately, by going through it. Also, I was never particularly good or comfortable with conflict, so I always avoided it. The problem is that you can’t really avoid it; you have to be able to say, ‘Hey, I don’t like that.’ This might make the other person disagree, which can lead to a little conflict. I was never really great at that.
When we chose to work things out, I promised myself that I would always speak my mind, even if it created temporary discomfort. My husband grew up quite a bit too; he was a little more moody than he realized, and now when he is in a restless mood I am not on the outside of it. He found a way to involve me in it. It was all about us learning how to live with each other. I also learned to not take anything too personally, which was a big step for me.”
CBS: It seems like you “have it all.” Is that an illusion? Do you think women can “have it all?”
GR: “I think you can have it all at different times, but not all at the same time. I always use the analogy where I’m at a party and my kid comes up to me and says, ‘They have cookies, ice cream, and cake!’ To this, I say, ‘You can either have half of two options, or one regular option. You can’t have it all.’
In your twenties, you might have a perfect body, a fantastic social life, a killer career, and a clean apartment, and then you go down a different path with a different partner. Something always gives and takes and slides around. It’s about asking yourself, ‘What is the most important thing I want?’ and accepting that the other things might temporarily fall by the wayside. I tell my single friends, ‘Having a husband and kids or just a killer career won’t make a person happy. It’s whatever happiness is to you.’ Some friends just want to have a partner and a great job and that’s awesome! I also had a friend who had kids by herself. You have to define what happiness is to you.”
CBS: With a mom as a model, how do you teach your daughters about healthy self-esteem and self-pride? Would you allow them to pursue a career in modeling and/or showbiz?
GR: “You have to live it and have an open dialogue about one’s body, and you also have to surround yourself with certain types of friends. I think it’s all connected. Their value systems are not just shaped by you; they’re also shaped by other family members and the other kids they hang out with. They are certainly going to learn a lot, maybe even the most, from watching you. For example, they pick up on it if you’re always complaining about your appearance. If you present other things to focus on, they will think those things are more important. It’s a conversation and I think the expectation of ‘perfect’ is very dangerous. If kids pick up on that early, especially girls, then they could be tormented by it.
In regard to whether I would allow my own kids to pursue a career in modeling and/or showbiz, I would either encourage them or discourage them. I would support them if they naturally gravitated towards something. If I have a daughter who is skilled at something other than modeling, I would hope that she dabbles but does not abandon the thing she is skilled at. No one controls me; I was allowed to maneuver my own life, and I always remind myself of that for my girls.”