Monday, September 22, 2008

Sun, sand and nappies

There are many times when I have been prioritised as being second (or third or fourth) to waves, and while I mostly understand it still really sucks.

From what I've witnessed, surfing and romantic relationships don't always fit together particularly smoothly. The total freedom that we have when we're single often needs to be negotiated and re-thought when we enter a relationship that holds responsibilities such as a partner, housework and children. Many of my (especially guy!) friends seem to think that there is some definable amount of effort that they can make in order to be free to go surfing whenever they want the rest of the time - especially when it comes to those usual points of friction, housework and childcare. But life doesn't operate on such predictable rhythms and often surfing can affect a partner or friend in selfish ways.

Surfing might be all about me, but the rest of my life isn't.


Action Sport and Music

Being the primary care-giver for children can be a full-time and tiring job when you are the one who is doing it all day. Partners come home from work and want to relax, but so does the carer;

"But you've been home all day! I've been at work, I need to chillout"

I know that friends of mine can find it hard to explain to their partner that being home all day isn't fun - it means chasing and entertaining their children, cooking, cleaning and all those other housekeeping tasks that most of us mortals find far from relaxing. When it comes time to go surfing, someone has to stay with the children on the beach to make sure they are safe and cared for and often this falls to the women-folk! This can easily make for feelings of isolation and resentment.

Instead of feeling isolated or reliant on their partners, women like Surfing Mums are forming friendships with other women that allow them a continuing relationship to surfing and to the beach both as women and as mothers. It allows them to continue to surf and to find new meanings that surfing has in their lives - as something that they increasingly share with other women, other mothers and with their children. It also changes the way that surfing can be generationally taught and 'handed down', which has been usually by fathers, uncles and brothers. Surfing Mums not only allows women to continue surfing and being surfers on their own terms and within their own time when they become mothers but also begins normalising women as having the skills and knowledge to share with their children and people wanting to learn to surf.

However, Surfing Mums is not exclusively female - there are many fathers, boyfriends and guy friends who are involved and I know that the local group in my town is supported by many of the male surfers around the place. While focused around mothers, this group encompasses men who are stay-at-home-dads and who, just like the women, want to find ways to keep surfing as an easily accessible part of their everyday. Surfing Mums has become a visible and interesting dynamic of my local surfing community and, while I am not a mother, I am proud to be a supporter!!

*On a more superficial note... did you see Dennis from Heartbreak High in there..? Oh yes he is!*

1 comment:

  1. And then there is the naive selfishness of being a grom:

    "Mum, pick me up after surfing please". "Mum thanks for the sangas". "Mum going skating with the boys". fast forward 18 years. "Mum off to Indo, later". "Mum moving to Byron, check ya". "Hey mum, I am back".

    "mum ...mum ... mum?"

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