I don’t skateboard anymore. I used to. My brother introduced me to longboard skateboarding when I was 14. I thought it was perfect—you got all the coolness of being a “skater” without having to bother with any of those annoying tricks. You just cruise around on a Cadillac of a skateboard and feel like a badass.
So I skated until I was about 20*, whereupon I broke my wrist doing the one and only trick** you can on a longboard (power sliding). After holding my wrist in tact and walking myself to the ER, because I was in college and had no vehicle on campus, I decided it was time to give up skateboarding and act like an adult.
Fast forward five years. It’s summer; I’m at a bar with grad-school friends. My husband decides to meet up with us and uses his longboard as his means of transport. After a bit we decide it’s time to go and begin the trek home. Joel offers for me to ride the skateboard and he will run/walk. It’s been a while, but at this hour, of course this is a brilliant idea.
But in fact, it was a brilliant idea. As I kicked, pushed, and carved down Oxford Ave all those feelings of being free and careless came back. Read: giant rush of endorphins.
Then came the tears. Just relentless sobbing. You know, the “this-is-definitely-my-ugly-cry”, shoulders shaking, kind of crying? Yeah that. So, picture for a moment: girl surfin’ up that asphalt and simultaneously sobbing her freaking eyes out. It was probably dangerous, because tears tend to cause low visibility, and on a skateboard that’s not ideal. Whatever, I was having a moment, people.
When we get home I explain to my husband that I am crying over the loss of a part of myself. I am mourning the loss of a portion of my identity, my skater-ness, and it will never come back.
Fast forward again, this time only two years. My husband has made plans to go longboarding with a friend. I am staying home because the baby is sleeping. I say something snarky about how it’s so nice that he gets to go out and skate while I stay in. He politely offers for me to skate and he will stay home instead. I decline.
But why? Why do I decline? After all, wasn’t my last experience with skateboarding akin to being re-acquainted with an old friend?
Because I have expectations of what a mother does and does not do. She does stay home and finish the laundry. She doesn’t go skateboarding at 10:30pm on a Thursday. She does make sure all the toys are put away. She doesn’t engage in an activity that could potentially injure her, limiting her capacity to care for her 9-month-old.
I recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way, but if you know me, then you know that I am prone to anxiety and that I must.have.it.together. Skateboarding does not afford that, because it is a risk.
It’s ironic really, that the thing that could bring me the feelings that I crave the most—freedom and a sense of being carefree—is something that I avoid because it isn’t a wise choice for me, a mother.
So what I’m really trying to say, if you’ve made it this far, is that I’m coping with my shift in identity in ways that I hadn’t foreseen. Apparently this all started before I became a mother, but motherhood certainly digs the dagger in a little further. Unfortunately, I have an idealistic view of this awesome mother, who’s relaxed and free and open and super positive and the best skateboarder ever, and she will teach her son to skateboard, and we will go on family skateboarding trips in summer and snowboarding trips in winter. But I’m not her, because I’m a worrier and I want my kid to grow up and be safe.
Skateboarding isn’t safe and kneepads aren’t cool.
…but don’t think for one second that I’m not forcing my son to wear them if he wants to skateboard.
So the skateboard will stay in the garage for now, because I still can’t convince myself to integrate it back into my life. And maybe that’s just fine, because let’s be real—I’m almost 30 and my body doesn’t exactly bounce back the way it used to. Maybe my history of skateboarding, skim boarding, and snow boarding just makes for really great stories that I can tell my son when he’s older. That’s what I’ll go with for now at least.
*I have some pretty good stories about being in the “sidewalk surfers” in college and totally eating it after going down a steep hill and flying through the air (not kidding, I got legit air), topped off by landing in the middle of a volley ball game. If you’re ever interested, I’ll give you the details.
**I mean, there are probably other tricks, I’m just not cool enough to know what they are.