I have said many times that motherhood is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding jobs in the entire world. It’s still true. Of all the hats I wear, it’s the one that means the most to me. All those years ago, when I just knew I was pregnant with baby girls each time, I could never have guessed the rollercoaster ride of emotions being a boy mom would bring. I continue to be surprised at all the lessons I’m learning along the way. So, when the boys and I took another visit to Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch, is it any wonder that the lessons went well beyond surfing and water sports? Moms, you’re going to want to read this one. Let’s talk about it.

Surf Ranch

Last week I traveled a little over three hours with my boys to the Kelly Slater Wave Co Surf Ranch. It’s a sports complex unlike any other featuring what’s called “The Wave.” The Wave is a “6-foot barreling wave that travels over 2300 feet yielding up to minute long rides.” We have visited Surf Ranch before, and we had such an amazing experience that I knew we would return someday. Growing up in Southern California, surfing is just something you do. I’ve always enjoyed it, and my boys have taken surfing lessons here and there since they were young. They even surfed a couple years ago in Hawaii. So it was fun to see them both challenged in new ways with the opportunity to work with pro surfers and coaches.

Surfing: Self-Discovery

One of the things I’ve loved most about watching my boys grow older is seeing them discover their interests and talents. We are a homeschool hybrid family, and our curriculum and schedule flexibility truly allows my sons to get involved in a myriad of activities that both include and extend beyond a typical school course curriculum. That means they’re always learning new skills like music production and DJing, various sporting activities and even how to grow their own food. We dabble in a bunch of projects, because I believe that’s a significant part of self-exploration, and that leads to a richer life.

Support from the Sidelines

Over the last couple of years and especially after our first trip to Surf Ranch, Kingsley, my oldest, decided that surfing just wasn’t for him. He enjoyed trying it out, but he didn’t fall in love with it. On the other hand, Kensi absolutely adored every part of it. He seemed to have a natural skill for it, and his fascination was a huge part of the reason we returned. After our first day of the most recent visit, Kensi hopped in bed with us and said, “Thank you guys for coming here to support me.” He gave us both hugs and we all just cuddled. 

I realize that as much as Kensi was learning lessons in surfing, Kingsley was also understanding that it’s just as powerful to support someone while they’re pursuing their passion as it is to participate. I was inspired watching how their love for one another shows up in so many ways. Kingsley’s selfless act was just being there and acknowledging his brother’s love for the sport. Kensi’s was recognizing that his brother prioritized him in a beautiful way. I hope they will always support one another this way throughout their lives. 

Connecting Confidence and Passion

I cannot express how proud I was of Kensi as I watched him masterfully surf out there like a natural. It was immediately clear that he was in his element on the water. He took instruction well and he excelled! One evening at the Ranch I could tell he was emotionally in a different place to connect with me. I think that was primarily due to the fact that he had pushed himself physically that day on the wave, and he was proud of himself. He had what I describe as a beautifully vulnerable moment and told me, “Mom, my brain…sometimes I worry about things.” We proceeded to have a conversation about the thoughts he’d been ruminating on and what it all meant for and to him.

I realized that while we were at this cool place to have fun learning how to surf, so many other life skills were being practiced as well. See, when children learn new skills, it gives them confidence in other areas as well. They are often more motivated to express their feelings, or try other new activities that might have seemed daunting before. Surfing had unlocked a new boldness in Kensi, and it was amazing to see him initiate those conversations with me. 

Authenticity Wins

I grew up with my toes in the sand, and I’ve always known I would live on a coast somewhere in the world. It was inevitable that my boys would end up enjoying some water sport. I’m a Hermosa Beach kid. My celebrities were never football players or basketball stars; they were surfers! These experiences totally make sense for our family. As an anxious mother, I wanted to ensure my son learned to surf with every safety precaution and from the best of the best. While Surf Ranch is invite only, places like Waco Surf and The Palm Springs Surf Club are available and more affordable at $200 an hour. We can’t wait to try them out. We’re the weird, single mom, always traveling family of three that surfs occasionally! What can I say? Is $200 a day crazy? Maybe. But maybe so is a trip to DisneyLand. We’d rather go surfing!

Moms Learn Too

I was just as excited for our time there as the kids. But, watching my babies out on the water so far from me felt…foreign and uncomfortable. Listen, city life is different from, say if you have a large backyard in Oregon. I would never let my kids wander so far from me in L.A. My youngest is just eight years old, and at that age you want eyes on them at all times. At the Ranch Kensi was just out there with the coach taking instruction, and Kingsley was on the jetski with another coach. All of this is happening while I’m on the mainland watching. It was tough to not go into full mama bear mode to protect my cubs. However, I realize that part of the reason I want them to have this experience was to learn that they have the ability to communicate with these adults and be their own people. 

Seeing my two little ones out there in the water with the coaches taught me to check in with myself and remember that my boys are capable and intelligent enough to handle what life throws at them. I’m instilling that in my sons in several ways. My task was to deal with the stress of my kid being in water all day, while also celebrating the joy of the moment. Turns out lessons in surfing aren’t just for those taking waves!

Sometimes when you’re raising your kids, you forget that you are growing, too. I’m enjoying watching life reveal itself to us bit by bit. There’s always something beautiful around each corner. I encourage moms to lean into the uncomfortable part of your kids’ new self-discoveries. The lesson might just be for you as well!


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