Kids Tell Mom to Go Surfing

by Kate Hayward on May 10, 2012

My name is Kate. I am a single mom raising two sparkly and spunky little girls, and  have had one heck of a year. Last February, I got divorced. In March, I bought a house, and in April, I went back to work for the first time in a decade. There were so many changes, and so many days and nights spent on the verge of panic; exhausted scared and lonely. Through this time, I learned how to lean into the constants of my life: my daughters, my family, my friends who are my family, and my running. If you’d like to read a bit about this, go to Water Your Plants and Running Toward…but this blog is about surfing, and how a very ordinary woman from the Midwest decided to jump into her fear, and go ride a wave.

I mentioned my house- my beautiful, old and creaky house. With the floors that needed to be refinished, chimney that needed to be rebuilt, and the bathroom…our funky, leaky, cloggy bathroom, which is also the only full bath we have. I knew from the start that I’d need to replace it, and had been planning accordingly, but then all the other old house things came up first and took priority, as they are wont to do. So when my friend Des asked me last fall if I’d like to go surfing, my first thought was YES, quickly followed by I CAN’T. But here’s the thing with Des: the girl just doesn’t give up, and is very convincing. She’s also one of those people who is usually right, so when she told me that surfing with Las Olas is life changing and I needed it, well, I listened. I thought a lot about my fears, too. Fear of the ocean, of the unknown, of disappointing people and, mostly, my fear of failing as a mother. That last one’s a doozy, isn’t it? Yeah, we moms tend to dump that one on ourselves far more than we should.

So here’s what I did: I asked my children. I told them that we had to make a choice; that we could not afford to redo the bathroom if I went surfing. My generous, wise girls, 7 and 8 years old, told me to go. They said the bathroom didn’t matter, but happiness did. They told me that I needed a break, and they wanted me to smile the way that Bethany Hamilton did. Hearing this, I cried.

And so, I went to Las Olas. I surfed and laughed, and smiled just as much as Bethany, and was happy in every bit of my self. I carried the love of my children with me, and brought them back a new and lighter me. We looked at the pictures of all of us glowing women remembering how to be girls, and my daughters saw me with new eyes. We now have a surfboard in our living room, as a reminder of how extraordinary every day can be. When people ask us why, my daughters smile and say, “because our mom’s a surfer.”

Kate Hayward comes from a family of wordy women. Her mother writes fiction; her aunt has written a dictionary, and her great-grandmother Maude was the first woman to graduate from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Kate was born in South Africa but has lived all over the world. She has a Master’s degree in Counseling and used to specialize in oncology and end of life work, but is now in the automotive industry, because life is funny like that.  She’s a runner and a laugher and a friend, but most of all a mother, and is working hard on becoming braver. Kate cannot type or spell, and lives in Indianapolis with her daughters Maggie and Eleanor, and a crazy calico cat named Charlotte, and blogs at
Photo with kids by Emily Schwank/Raincliff’s Photography.

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