This was originally posted on the Tiny Big Adventure Blog! Tiny Big Adventure is all about real families doing rad things outdoors. Check it out here.
Kelly Slater, the 11-time surfing world champion, famously said,
“It’s like the mafia. Once you’re in – your in. There’s no getting out.”
Any surfer will tell you that surfing is more than a sport, it is a way of life. Surfers become obsessed and hopelessly devoted to being in the water. All other commitments get in line. When Audrey Hills became a mom, she wasn’t sure what that would do to her surfing lifestyle. Turns out, there’s a whole subset of surfer out there – moms who surf or “Murfers”. Here’s Audrey with some thoughts on why it’s so important to keep going back to the water!
If you are the mother of a young child, it’s doubtful that you’ve missed the Disney movie Moana. My daughter has watched it 15 trillion times but I still love it.
In case your movie choices aren’t governed by a tiny dictator, Moana is the story of a young princess, inexplicability and compellingly drawn to the ocean from a young age. The ocean calls her, the reef pushes her out of her comfort zone, and the horizon makes her break through the boundaries imposed on her by her parents and culture.
Like a surfer.
Surfers around the world are age-old experts in lifestyle design: creating a life that allows them to live near the water, surf when the swell is up and prioritize surfing over most things. To an outlier, surfers may seem insane. To a surfer, nothing else matters.
Having a Child is Not the End of You (or Surfing)
That’s why the surfing moms are an interesting bunch. Having a baby rocks every mother to her core. Things that meant the world to you before the baby seem insignificant – the baby becomes número uno.
But deep down, even with a baby attached to your hip, you are still you.
This is why more and more, surfing mothers groups are popping up and growing in popularity. Rather than forget about our love of the ocean and get back to folding laundry or changing diapers, modern mothers recognize that pursuing our passions makes us happier and more mentally stable. It makes us better mothers.
Water Makes Us Happy
But why are moms going surfing rather than taking up yoga, knitting or playing the guitar?
People all over the world pay a premium to live near water, feel relaxed when they look at pictures of water and report a positive impact on their mental health by merely being near water.
Being on, in or near water helps the brain relax and creates positive vibes that can help you deal with the gnarliest of temper tantrums, diaper blow-outs or power struggles. Moms are going surfing because water makes them happy.
Surfing is an Individual Sport that Comes with A Fanatical Tribe
On the east coast of Australia, a group of like-minded surf “mums” meet every day of the week to watch each other’s’ children and go surfing. We surf, go on camping trips, get surf coaching and share the experiences of motherhood. The common thread is surfing but we are a very diverse bunch in terms of skill level, experiences, and children. There are mothers who compete in contests, who just learned to surf, who have school-age kids, toddlers and infants.
Even though surfing is an individual sport, the women I know in the line-up are like a team. We hoot and holler in and out of the water, swap boards and gear and push each other to surf better. Each mother has had that ah-ha moment when surfing ignited their passion for life. Now we can share our individual obsession with surfing with a group of women who are going through the same journey as mothers.
Getting back in the water can mean you gain an entire tribe of women who love the same things you do. When a baby turns your world on its head, the surest way to combat postpartum depression or isolation is to find a support group of like-minded mothers, even better a fanatical group of “murfers.”
Mothers Need “Me” Time
Your happiness as a person directly affects your ability to be a good parent. Our energy and mental state is often reflected in the way our kids feel and behave. Many moms get caught up in the stress of an endless to-do list, constant messes and child-related commitments but, how can you love your kids if you don’t love yourself?
This is why more and more moms go back to the water. We must prioritize ourselves and our personal interests in order to be the happy, healthy nurturers we want to be.
Just last week, I was in Indonesia sitting under a palm frond shade structure, drinking fresh coconuts on a beautiful white sand beach with the most crystal blue water. It was paradise but my daughter, aged 2.5, had been whining about one thing or another for hours. Her dad was out surfing and I was getting fed up… By the time he returned, I was about to explode.
I handed her over to her dad, took my board and went out for a surf. An hour and half later, I returned and she was sleeping on the beach, wrapped up in a sarong. By then, I had completely forgotten about my near meltdown. I was dripping wet, smiling and adoring her cute little face. My mood had done a 180.
A little space, fresh air, and exercise can work wonders for a mom teetering on the brink of a breakdown!
Surfing Moms are Happy Moms
We go back to the water to feel alive, save our sanity and improve our relationship with ourselves.
Moms that pursue their passions, take time out to reduce stress and surround themselves with a girl gang are happier moms. Happier moms means happier children. That’s the point of all this, isn’t it?
Just don’t be surprised if you find your little one at the water’s edge singing their own version of Moana’s song: