Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cardinals Alumni Dawn is New Cover Girl for My Crew Magazine 

Posted by Sasha at 9:20 PM ET

Parent Cover of the Week
34 year old - Dawn Gilbert - Arizona
My Crew Magazine

Q: Dawn, tell us about how you became a single mother.
A: My husband and I divorced 9 years ago. It was one of the most difficult and saddest experiences of my life. I look back on all of that now and realize that things happen for a reason. Now I know it is ok to be single and a Mom.

Q: Tell us about your kids and your family.
A: I have the most wonderful children, Taeyler, 11 and Chase, 9. They have been the joys and inspirations of my life in so many ways. I share custody with their father who has remarried. We have a very nice collaborative friendship in the best interest of our children. We share common goals for them, which has been very nice. In the beginning of a break up you never imagine you will actually reach the point to where we are now, working together, peacefully.

I also have the very best parents in the entire world. They have been there for me and my children through everything that has happened these past 9 years. They are the best support any daughter could ever ask for. My parents are also season ticket holders of the Arizona Cardinals which meant they were at every home football game when I performed. It was a comfort knowing they were at the stadium on game day.

Q: Share a story about a memory involving your children.
A: Well there are so many wonderful memories I have with my children. But, I think one would be the year my son turned 1 and I was recently divorced. It was then I decided to try out for the Arizona Cardinal cheerleader team. I had been in dance all my life, in high school, college and with our local Arena football team. I never imagined I would make the team, but I did and I was so excited when I was chosen. I remember going through the process of wanting to try out just for me. I wanted to really stay active with people, and the community. It was my way to help take away all the saddness I had been feeling surrounding the end of my marriage. Making the team was more than I ever expected. It was the best.

At first, I didn't tell anyone I was a single mother because I didn't want them to think that I wasn't as focused or commited as the other girls who were not parents. I was so focused it was an awesome feeling. I soon learned what a wonderful organization the Cardinals were and opened up about my life off the field. They were absolutely the best to me and my children. My son grew up with the team, that's all he has known 8 out of his 9 years of life. Cardinal football has been our family. My daughter was a Jr. Cardinal cheerleader, too. My son was even in a calendar with me one year. They both absolutely love football and of course, Big Red. Alot of our fun memories have been around Cardinal football events and activities.

Q: Have you ever been angry and asked why me?
A: At first I was confused and really didn't understand how this all could be happening to me. It was a struggle, and very lonely even though I had so much support around me. I was very sad for a period of time. I don't think I was angry, just confused. I was not a big fan of all the arguing, and disagreements I had with my ex-husband in the beginning. Thankfully, it passes and we go on with our lives. Later, we realize it's going to be okay. Being a part of the Cardinals was one of the best things I did for myself.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced (or are facing) as a single mother?
A: I think it has been balancing time. I am lucky though as my children's father has been terrific at taking Taeyler and Chase if I had appearances, or team related events that cut into my time with the kids. I have rarely missed school events, soccer games or not been able to attend things like recitals. I have really tried hard to schedule my own calendar around the kids and their needs. I also think it has been a challenge when I look at my kids school volunteer lists, or class list of parents and there is always just Dawn Gilbert, and not another name next to it. I look at most of the names or see parents at school events and there is the husband and his wife checking off their names on the list. I don't think people are looking at me like oh my gosh it's just Dawn Gilbert, single mom. But each time the list glares up at me when I see it for the 50th time, simply, Dawn Gilbert. It really is funny actually when I talk about it like this. It sounds silly. (Side note: The Editor shared with Dawn that other single parents do feel the same way about this subject. She is not alone in her thoughts).

Q: What are you doing to make a life for you and your children?
A: Last February when I went to Hong Kong to perform with the Cardinals, that was my last appearance as an NFL Cheerleader. I helped with tryouts in April but felt after 8 years, I needed to devote 100% of my time to my family. I am a manager at a Bank. In addition, I have bought a new townhome Things are really going well. I realized I needed this time after having being away from football. It's been fun and the kids see the difference too.

It has been strange not having to go to the two a week practices and all the home games, and appearances. I miss performing, but I know this is a new chapter. I am really happy with my decision to move into the next phase of my life.

Q: What encouraging advice do you have for other single parents or soon-to-be single parents?
A: Don't give up, keep doing the best job you can for your children. Don't turn away from your support system. Let those people in your life reach out to you whether it be emotionally or financially or both. It's a blessing to have that in your life. Accept it. It's sad in the beginning to deal with all the things that are happening to you, but just know that it does get better.

Q: Do you date?
A: I do. I have been dating a wonderful man for about a year and a half. I did not introduce him to my children for a long time after we had been dating. I have always kept my dating life private from the kids, it was my way of making sure the person was ok in his own character and way of life to have around my children first and foremost. I also felt strongly about not having to many men coming and going in my children's lives. My children like this man in our world, and he is very supportive of my children and me. I do believe I will marry again one day. I still believe that having a happy married relationship in life is possible.

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