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Orlando Pride star and Olympic gold and bronze medalist Alex Morgan welcomed her first child, daughter Charlie Elena Carrasco, in May 2020. Before that, she was — and continues to be — a dog mom to Kona and Blue, whom she describes as "two pretty large dogs" who are "besties" not only with each other but with her now 16-month-old little girl as well.
"They always like to cuddle before she goes to bed," Morgan tells Yahoo Life of her furry family members. "They've actually been a part of my family before I had Charlie, so they've kind of been along the journey with me the whole time as I become a new mom of a human, not a dog."
Kona and Blue also inspired the athlete and author, who is married to soccer player Servando Carrasco, to team up with the pet food brand Stella & Chewy's in honor of National Dog Day on Aug. 26 — an occasion she plans to mark with "more cuddles and maybe an extra walk." (The brand is also hosting a giveaway for pet parents and raising funds to support the rescuing and rehoming of senior animals through the sale of Lucy & Co.'s limited-edition "I'd Rather Be With My Dog" hat and matching dog bandana set.)
Ahead, Morgan opens up about pets, motherhood and staying connected while competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
Did being a dog mom prepare you at all for parenthood?
Some things are similar, but it also couldn't be more different [laughs]. Being a dog mom initially just helps because I love being at home more and hosting people. I feel like having dogs, I wanted to be home more; I wanted to have people come over more than go over to people's houses. [But] I also wanted to get out more and go do adventurous things [with the dogs]. That was a fun piece about being a dog mom. And now just being a mom, I feel like it's kind of starting all over. Now my daughter's getting old enough where we're able to go to the playground and do things that she actually enjoys.
How has the postpartum period been for you in terms of getting back out on the field?
It's definitely been a challenge, and just understanding the balance of time and giving myself to soccer and then being a mom. It's been interesting, but honestly I'm really enjoying it. I'm really thankful that I had extra time with my daughter last summer. I had assumed that I would be on the road with her or possibly away from her at the Olympics [if they had taken place as originally scheduled in 2020] only three months later, and [it was special] to be able to have that time to bond. To also give my body time to heal and give my body its own timeline was really important in that healing process in getting back to playing 100 percent and back to feeling like I felt before.
Because of the pandemic, Charlie had to stay behind when you went to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics this summer. How were you able to stay connected with her while you were away?
Honestly, that was probably the most challenging thing about going to the Olympics: being away for her for five weeks after really not being away from her for more than a day over this last year. It made me feel better knowing that she was in good hands with my husband, and seeing family in California and just enjoying herself. We would FaceTime in the mornings and then at night. Because of the time change, it was really tough because I barely saw her during the day; it was like right when I would wake up and then right before I would go to sleep. I think that probably the last week she got really, really sick of FaceTime because she stopped engaging with me as much. That was really hard, but we picked up right where we left off once I got home and we bonded again. Now it's almost harder to leave for work or go to training because I kind of missed out on that whole month of being with her.
You're a vegan. Is that something you hope to introduce to Charlie as well?
I really feed Charlie what I eat, but when we're with family, she'll try meat here and there. She actually doesn't really like it right now, but I don't want to force her to eat the same way that I do. But she really actually loves the food that I eat and I make for her, so as of right now, she does eat a vegan/vegetarian [diet] and is thriving on it. I see her having like a similar diet to mine, but at the same time, I don't want to restrict her from trying to eat anything. The reason I went vegan in the first place was for ethical reasons and just for the fact that animals are killed inhumanely for our food consumption. I didn't think that that was right, but I have found a lot of health benefits to it as well. So I have stuck with it for four years now, and, and I think that it's working for Charlie as well.
You've written books to empower young girls. Are you looking forward to sharing your story, and a love of soccer, with Charlie as she gets older?
Yeah, absolutely. It's kind of crazy how fast kids catch on to things, I feel like I can tell her, "Oh, don't use your hands" — like with the [soccer] ball— or like, "Don't pick up the ball," but when I show her when I play with her, she catches on way faster than if I were to tell her something. So it's really fun seeing things for her like that. Right now with books, she'll just look at pictures and stuff, but having a book series of my own, it's going to be fun when she's like 8, 9 years old and actually reading the books that her mom wrote. That'll be kind of a surreal moment.
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
I think being a mom has just taught me to be more relaxed, I guess, and just be more patient. It's also just taught me to communicate better, like with my husband, with my family, in general. And then it's taught me to appreciate the little things; looking through her lens, sometimes life seems more simple. I think that we make life a little too complicated sometimes, so it's nice to look through her lens.