NEW YORK (AP) — Skylar Diggins-Smith’s outlook on life has changed after giving birth to her son last spring.
“It’s different how I approach everything. I don’t look at it like it’s a job,” the Dallas Wings’ guard told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. “It’s the best feeling in the world. I look at him and can’t believe it’s real or he’s ours. I have a great partner in crime (in my husband). He really is a great baby. I don’t want to spend time away from him. It puts everything in perspective. Nothing’s that bad when I get to go home and see my son and husband. That’s my legacy. He’s watching me if I bring him to the workouts. He’ll watch me work out and holds me accountable to be the best I can be to be a good example.”
Diggins-Smith will have her son with her as she plays with the U.S. national women’s basketball team during the four-game college exhibition tour that begins Saturday against No. 3 Stanford. It will be her first game action in over a year. He’ll also go to Argentina with his mom for the FIBA Tournament later this month.
“He’ll always be around me. We’re attached at the hip,” she said. “We don’t’ have babysitters and nannies. It’s not his first road show. He’s got his passport and everything.”
Diggins-Smith missed all of last season while getting back in shape. The four-time All-Star also said she was dealing with post-partum depression.
“I’ve been open about my struggles,” she said. “We can do better in the WNBA to provide resources for mothers. There are resources we need as moms. I had a tough time when I came back dealing with post-partum depression, separation anxiety. You’re pumping, you’re doing everything. If I had a job that started at 11, I could clock in then. Practice, rehabbing. It was a lot for me to handle to be away.”
The 29-year-old Notre Dame graduate said despite receiving some negative response to her comments, she didn’t regret speaking out and is happy that the conversation has started.
“We can do a better job in every industry supporting working moms whatever that is,” she said. “It’s a great time to open up the conversation about ways we can continue to support and provide resources for working moms. Have policies for a women’s league regarding maternity and resources.”
Diggins-Smith said she’s had conversations with many of the other moms around the league and plans to talk to all of them at some point. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement being discussed, right now it’s something that’s important to many of the players.
“This is something I’ve been working on. Putting actions behind the words. I love the city of Dallas. I’m talking about improving conditions in the WNBA for working mothers. That’s part of our grind and uphill battle. Everybody in the Wings and WNBA understand that there are things we need as moms and that has to happen. I’m not ashamed to say that out loud. Women in the labor force, we have a right to have private access to a room where we can pump and nurse. Have a room that no one else has access too. We have a right to put our breast milk away from others. I’m going to keep working toward improving things for the WNBA. Keep saying how I feel. Anyone who disagrees or wants to be part of the conversation I welcome that.”
For now, she’s just excited to be back on the court and playing with the U.S. team in front of her son.
“This is a great chance to play and dust some cobwebs off and get my legs back,” she said. “It’s different than an injury. I’m just trying to get in shape. Never feel like I want to be where I want anyways. For me it’s about going through it. I’m most confident when I’m prepared. Continue to practice and get my reps in. See how I can get better from there.”
She hopes that her son also will be making a trip to Tokyo next summer to the Olympics. If she does make the roster, it would be Diggins-Smith’s first time playing in a major tournament for the U.S. national team. The No. 3 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft was one of the final cuts for the 2014 World Championship team. An ACL tear in 2015 ruined her chances of being on the team for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
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