Having Kids Made Me A Better Surfer

18 Jan 2017 1

The ultimate surfing mum, Bethany Hamilton takes on Jaws just 5 months after giving birth to her first child

The ultimate surfing mum, Bethany Hamilton takes on Jaws just 5 months after giving birth to her first child

SURFING MUMS AUSTRALIA | PUBLISHING PARTNER

Words by Alex Harmon

When I became a parent, I remember someone saying to me, “so when are you selling the surfboard?” He looked at me like I’d soon be so consumed by parenthood that all I’d have left would be a pang of nostalgia for my old life while watching the Bananas in Pyjamas Surf’s Up episode.

I’ve been surfing on-and-off since I was a kid after growing up in Port Stephens. When I moved to Sydney and life got in the way (and I didn’t have a car) it kind of took a back seat until a couple of years ago. It’s funny that since becoming a mum two years ago I’ve surfed more than ever. Sure it’s just a hobby, but it’s a borderline obsession too.

SEE ALSO: Bethany Hamilton On Faith, The Shark Attack, Motherhood and Surfing Jaws

I know that a lot of parents hang up the boots of their hobbies when they have babies, because let’s face it, kids come first. But I’ve found that you can have your cake and carve it too. You just have to be more organised - something that being a parent has forced me to be.

In fact, there are many ways in which being a parent has made me a better surfer. Here are a few…

Patience: As a gung-ho grom I’d go for any wave, it was more of a numbers game. But if being a parent has taught me one thing, it’s patience. It’s taught me to stop, to take a moment and choose my battles wisely – or in this case - choose my waves. Patience is the key to wave selection. Sure, my patience can be tested when I only have a short amount of time in the water. These times I think of myself as being in the Roxy Pro, under the pump with the clock ticking and my wave choice paramount. It’s about practicing patience under pressure (that could be a fridge magnet for mums).

My Health: I don’t know about you but being a parent has made me look at my own diet and make some changes. It’s made me read the labels on food, it’s made me interested in cooking food from scratch. I want to be healthy and lead a good example for my kid. Then there are all the nights out on the town I happily pass up in return for sleep. You hear of people saying, ‘When I became a parent I wanted to be able to kick a ball around with my kid so I got fit’. I kind of did the same thing. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. And that makes it so much easier to paddle out.

Mindfulness: What better place to be alone, without any of your devices, to stop and soak up the moment. In the line up, I can pause, breathe, and have some ‘me time’. Before I was a parent I took these moments for granted. Now I love them. And when you surf with a clear head, you surf better.

SEE ALSO: How To Revive Your Body & Mind

Risk taking: I actually take less risks, but put myself out there more, if that makes sense. Imagine you only have one hour in the week that you can surf and when that hour rolls on, it’s onshore with grey skies and drizzle. Now that I’m a parent I don’t let that stop me. Even a bluebottle invasion can’t stop me. Would I have done that before becoming a parent? Hell no. But now I get out there on that cloudy onshore day and I find a wave… or something that resembles a wave. I’ve been out on Lake Bondi in half a foot battling for a shore break with 35 other kids, but it’s still a surf.

Having said that, now I’m a parent, I don’t do anything stupid like head out in monster sets. You gotta know when to hold them, and when to head to Malabar instead.

Early mornings: Before becoming a parent, early mornings used to make me feel nauseous. Getting out of bed early by choice was not the done thing. Even for surfing. Now? Waking up at 6am is civilized, 7am is a luxury, 8am is just lazy. Turns out the surf is better the earlier you go – all these years I was hoping you surfers were just exaggerating. But since having a baby who woke up at 5am every morning for months, getting to the beach for an early sesh was easy. I was up and I wasn’t nauseous. Now I love early mornings. I never thought I would say that. I feel like a true parent now. And a true surfer. You see, they go hand in hand.

SEE ALSO: The Most Advanced Women's Wetsuit This Summer

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