Having a mom who surfs rocks. She brought me into the ocean when I was very little, paddling me out on a longboard so we could tandem together in Waikīkī; my mom introduced me to the Surfer Spirit Sessions, teaching me the beautiful impact that surfing can have on our lives; she lets me cancel plans because the waves are good.
If it weren’t for my mom, I would not be here writing this post today, following my dreams and my passions.
After a rough surf session last Spring Semester, I called my mom, distraught and upset. Devin had surfed somewhere along the East shore, while I’d stuck it out in Town—big mistake—and caught terrible waves while he caught amazing ones. In my moments of extreme frustration, when I need a voice of reason and rationale to help me get down off that ledge, my mom is always there to give me the perspective I need.
Most parents would tell you to suck it up, it was just one day of surfing. Many parents would want their kids to go into highly lucrative jobs at the cost of their happiness. A lot of kids I went to high school with felt this extreme level of pressure to do what was expected of them, what was right and the norm and standard.
My Mom is Not Most Parents
My mom empathized with me over missing out on epic waves. She related with me to that terrible sense of FOMO that us surfers experience from time to time.
And then she said, “why don’t you be a surf journalist so you have a reason to always be surfing waves and you’re not stuck in an office?”
What Would Be Next?
I was nearing graduation, not sure what to do next (as you know, I would eventually begin bartending for a while, which brought me a lot of money but very little fulfillment), but knowing that being stuck in an office or classroom slugging it through a 9-5 or grad school was not in my cards. The 4 years I spent in college were incredibly valuable, and they taught me a lot about who I am and who I want to be.
Learning About Myself
But college also taught me that I didn’t want to be cooped up indoors when the waves were firing. College taught me that academia could be tedious, and that my pursuit of knowledge could be expressed in myriad ways outside of an institution.
From my time in college, I learned what I loved about learning, and what I definitely did not want for myself in my career and life.
Most parents would want you to stick it out and have a solid plan. Many would tell you to suck it up because we must do things we don’t want to.
My Ever-Supportive Mom
My mom encouraged me to become a surf journalist, or blogger, or web designer, or anything I’ve ever wanted to be. She, along with my step-dad, have given my financial support while I’ve been building up my business and pursuing my passions. It’s amazing to have someone in your corner who believes in you as much as my mom does, and I think sometimes I even take it for granted just how lucky I am. I try not to, but it’s easiest to forget the gifts we are most accustomed to getting.
Dawn Patrolling Before School
While other kids had to be up early for sports or music lessons or other activities, my mom and I would wake up before dawn to surf Diamond Head before I had to go to class. There were mornings when I grumpily made a scene: the water was too cold, I was tired and hungry, can’t we just go back to bed.
I didn’t realize then how insanely cool it was to have a mom that would take me surfing before classes. But I do remember the feeling when my bratty butt got into gear to paddle out, and we would watch the glowing sun rise over an ocean seemingly from another planet, and I would smile so hard at the gorgeousness of it that my face hurt.
And then we would get breakfast, warm salmon musubis from our favorite café up the road, head back home and rush to get me to school on time.
All day in class I would luxuriate in the salty drowsiness of a morning well-spent.
Seeing Her Spirit
I didn’t fully realize until I started writing this just how much my mom has embodied the surfer spirit that I so deeply admire and aim to emanate for myself.
Through Every Hurtle, She’s Been There for Me
When I became entrenched in my eating disorder, my mom was there for me. She was imperfect and courageous and scared and did her absolute best to take care of me. I missed out on a lot of surfing during those years, and a lot of living. A lot of everything, really. Yet I know I wouldn’t have survived it without her. She protected me in the best way she knew possible, and even though my self-destruction was terrible and difficult, she never gave up on me.
Even When I was a Jerk
And she still doesn’t give up on me, even when I’ve wanted to give up on myself. Even when I was in toxic relationships, when I yelled and tantrumed and was a huge a**hole. Even when my depression wreaked havoc on my mind and spirit, and I felt there was nothing to do except lay crying on the floor, she didn’t give up on me. Because of her, I now know how to believe in myself. I still make mistakes: sometimes I’m still a jerk; my depression still hurts, and sometimes food and my body image give me crazy anxiety. But I know I’ll never be alone because I have her.
Happiness is the Highest Pursuit
My mom instilled the spirit of surfing and stoke in me. She’s given me the courage and coaxing I’ve needed to become a better person. Through it all, she’s reminded me that taking care of myself and being happy is the highest pursuit of all, because everything else falls into place when we are taking care of and loving ourselves.
Having a mom who understands the exhilaration of catching a wave, the heartache of a frustrating session, the difficulties of depression, the challenges of anxiety, and the absolute thrill of being in the ocean is incredible. She knows the ups and downs and twists and turns, but most importantly she knows just how life-changing every moment spent sliding down the face of a wave is. Her value of the ocean, of happiness and self-compassion has been guiding me all this time.
So, this post is dedicated to you, momma. Happy birthday to my OG surf companion and life-long Surfer Spirit mentor. I love you.