Falling, not Failing

Falling, not Failing

The laughter stung more than the impact as I lay on the asphalt- my arm sandwiched between the ground and my body. The loud guffaws from the passing car ebbed away as I stood and picked out the tiny stones imprinted in my arm and realized my elbow was pretty bloody sore.

My husband broke into a trot pushing the pram with my baby girl to catch up and see if I was ok. The towering pines standing sentinel over the Manly beachfront, litter pine fronds over the grass and bike path below. One pine frond halted my skateboard and catapulted me skyward and then downward. Bam! Hello bitumen and broken elbow.

I was quite unprepared for the reprimands and scolding I received from friends, family and strangers. “You’re a mother now. You shouldn’t be skateboarding a month or two after giving birth!” was the general accord. One friend admonished “It serves you right!”. It was my body and I’d paid the price, yet what I did seemed to really bother people. As a new mother, God forbid I should do anything joyous and active that made me feel alive. Best I sit on the couch scoffing Tim-Tams watching Dexter. Now I love nothing more than a great box set and some Cookies and Cream Connoisseur, but I want more from life than that. And skateboarding and surfing motivate me to eat healthier and exercise regularly. After I had my first child, rather than batten down the hatches and hole myself up at home, I wanted to try new things, learn and grow. Having my daughter inspired me! I wanted to show her you can do whatever your heart so desires.

Interestingly nobody questioned my husband taking up skateboarding as a father. Almost as if it wouldn’t have been as disastrous if he hurt himself. Society views a mother as the glue that holds the family together, keeps the cogs turning, feeding, washing and organizing. And yes, many households do work this way. And many don’t. We don’t have to be defined by antiquated views of gender roles. I’ll be damned if I can’t hop on a skateboard and my husband can’t competently run a household. Let’s look more broadly than what convention tells us.

After my fracture, I wondered to myself- when in our lives does falling become unacceptable. Both literally, and metaphorically. A few months ago I watched my little boy fall over and over as he learnt to walk. We view this process as totally normal and understand that in order to walk he will fall and cry, and fail and struggle before he acquires the skill of walking. When do we become so scared of falling that we stop having a crack at new things? When in our minds does it become so undesirable to fall? So displeasing to fail?

From my observations it doesn’t take long. My 5 year old at times becomes frustrated and hesitant to draw a picture, as it won’t turn out the way she wants it to. She is scared of failing. We all are. And that is why I skate. I’m scared. I’m scared of hurting myself physically, but I’m even more afraid of falling in front of people, of breaking another bone, having people laughing and chide, “I told you so!”.

And that’s why 5 years and 3 children later I’m still having a dig. Not because I’m a crazy reckless hoon with a death wish, and let’s be real- we are all taking a risk when we buckle our seatbelt in the car every morning. I’m consciously choosing to walk towards the fear, not run from it. I want to feel awake. Not dead inside. I don’t want to wonder what I could have done if I’d tried. The exhilaration and delight I could have felt. I have fallen since and I will fall again. But to me that is not failing. Not trying something you really want to do is failing.

This week I attempted a frontside turn on a small incline in the skate park. This is a very simple maneuver, but one I have been petrified of trying. It involves turning towards your blind spot and it feels downright awkward. I had to push beyond comfort. And I fell (take a breath- I wear safety pads all the time now!). And then finally it clicked, and…I felt the magic. I hit the sweet spot, felt weightless for a moment as time stopped, and then swooped down the incline as if I was flying. Cue rainbows, unicorns and euphoria!

Falling, however you define it, is never as bad as you imagine. And it sure as hell beats not having a red hot go.

6 Replies to “Falling, not Failing”

  1. Corageous, brave and inspiring sentiments. And what a super cool mum to be able to do a frontside turn. A quote that I’ve been hearing a lot lately is “If you don’t fail, you’re not trying hard enough.” Sounds like you’re killing it.

  2. Well done Kingy. You are a beautiful mum that three beautiful children will always look up to. You are teaching them the most important lesson of all – be yourself and do what makes you happy regardless of what anyone thinks! Xx

  3. Amen, sister!! This is the woman who took me (mother of two young girls) to the skate park for the very first time…showed me that, in fact, a grown-up woman can give it a crack! Thank you for the inspiration!!!

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