Normalcy is something we all take for granted sometimes as the comforts of our day-to-day lives often seem too simple. But for a high performance para-athlete like my son, some days are far from the usual and so normalcy is the one thing I try to maintain in his life.
I knew Ben was destined to be a Paralympian in 1998 when he competed in the Canadian championships and became a world champion at the age of 14. It was truly a life-changing experience for him and our entire family. From there, he became part of the Paralympics team and went on to become a nine-time gold medal winner.
Since Ben started competing at such a young age, we've always worked to keep a sense of normalcy in his life. Even though he travels the world, we made sure he always has a part of home with him.
When he was younger we would always take the time to run through a checklist before he left, making sure he had his shampoo, toothpaste and mouthwash all packed. It was our ritual, and the perfect excuse to spend time together.
The most important item on the checklist was always to ensure he had a fresh, clean towel that smelled of Tide detergent so he could wrap himself in it when he hopped out of the pool. We would call him the night after the first meet and remind him to hang it up so he could still have the smell of home to wrap himself in on the next day of competition. We've always tried to do little things like that to remind Ben that we were always with him.
Even if my husband, daughter and I did go to competitions, the team departed often weeks before. That meant we didn't often spend much time with him leading up his big days. This will be the same in Rio.
When we were lucky enough to be with him in the days leading up to big competitions, we helped him take the time to do activities that were as normal as possible, and move away from the competition mindset. Ben loves golfing, hockey and Formula 1 racing, so we helped shift his focus to these things. We encouraged him go about his life and spend time with friends and family. We reminded him that focusing entirely on the competition can be counter-productive, and that at the end of the day we would be right there, cheering him on, ready to wrap him up in a small piece of home, no matter where he is.
Lucie Huot is the mom of Canadian Paralympic swimmer Benoit Huot. Benoit, whose disability is a club foot, started swimming competitively at age 10. Since then, Benoit has become of one Canada's most accomplished Paralympians, capturing 19 Paralympic medals at four Paralympic Games. His best Paralympic Games were in Athens in 2004 with five gold medals and a silver medal. Benoit won three more medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, including a gold medal in the SM10 200-metre individual medley in world record time. Most recently, Benoit has qualified to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, which will be his fifth Games.
Benoit is proud to be the Pampers brand ambassador and member of P&G's "Thank You Mom" team, along with his mom Lucie.