Mary Lou Retton's Houseful of Gymnasts


Gymnast Mary Lou Retton is known for winning the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, and it appears as if her daughter Emma Jean may follow suit. Emma is just six years old, but Mary Lou points out that she "is on the Olympic-hopeful track," and she isn’t the only gymnast in the family. Mary Lou and husband Shannon Kelley‘s older daughters also participate — Shayla Rae, 13, and McKenna Lane, 11, take gymnastics classes five days a week. Mary Lou worries "all the time" that her daughters will be compared to her when it comes to gymnastics, so she makes a point of constantly asking if they’d like to continue, adding that "they seem to really love the sport" except for Skyla Brae, 8, "who prefers horseback riding."

While the girls may favor different sports, they all come together to spend time with their dad, who takes them on father-daughter fishing trips. The time that the girls spend with Shannon are "precious moments" for Mary Lou, because she gets to see her husband "completely uninhibited" with his little girls so much that "he’d let them put makeup on him" when they played dress up.

Having a household of ladies can have its drawbacks though, such as in the morning when everyone is trying to get ready! "It’s one big assembly line as I do their hair before school," Mary Lou laughs, because "the older girls want it straightened, and the younger ones get ponytails or pigtails." Speaking of school, the 40-year-old mom was excited and "happy to have a few hours to myself" when youngest daughter Emma started classes recently.

Emma was ready. She’d seen her big sisters go to school for years and always asked, ‘It is my turn?’

Parenthood may be fun a good part of the time, but Mary Lou admits that the scariest part of being a parent is the Internet, adding that "we don’t let out kids go on MySpace or have their own computers" because "there are too many bad people and too many bad things out there."

Source: Family Circle, September 2008 issue; Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night.

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