So winter is well and truly under way and the lakes have had their first bit of ice decoration to the edges. I enjoy riding this time of year because there are only the usual die hards who do it purely of the love, coupled with the fact that the queues are significantly reduced makes for a nice little session. Winter, for me, is about keeping the muscles active and working on smaller tricks that won’t lead to too much pain if I screw up. However, this has become a bit of a habit for me of recent.
I got to thinking about what was harder for me. Coming back from injury or coming back as a mother. Its hard to make an absolute clear comparison as I had knee surgery 10 years ago and I became a mother nearly two years ago, but I’m going to try.
The knee: I blew out my left knee on a kicker in Xscape. I knew I’d done something but am more of the mind – if I just work through it, it’ll get better. I was wrong. Four months later I ended up in surgery and I’d done more damage than they’d thought. I was non-weight bearing for two months, then had to learn how to walk again and lots of physio to build up my leg that was half the size of the other one with muscle wastage. Good times. Anyway, it was really hard going back to snowboarding and wakeboarding because my knee was so weak. I had a brace but my brain would still kick in with its warning bells when trying anything new and I’d bail. After a year or so I was done with this and ditched the knee brace and haven’t worn it since, and I haven’t let my knee bother me either. Yes it throbs in cold damp weather but it does’t affect my riding as the muscles are all strong again. Overall, it affected my riding for about two years maximum. I also fractured my lower back snowboarding and my collar bone wakeboarding, but being fractures they healed pretty quickly and didn’t really have an impact on my riding, although typing at work was harder with the latter with my arm in a sling.
Motherhood: I had Ethan in January 2013 and had the goal to ride in the Nationals in July 2013, six months after childbirth. I definitely didn’t perform how I’d wanted to but I’d achieved my goal of competing at Nationals level. You don’t just casually pop out a baby – from start to finish its nine months and then you have all the aftermath and healing (physically and mentally) and getting to grips with sleep deprivation, stolen identity, baby blues, and generally being responsible for a tiny helpless being, which for me was about six months. Because he was so small I knew I had to avoid any big tricks that I could potentially get injured on, so I focussed on rails instead.
I’m two years into motherhood and this feeling is yet to change. I still cannot get injured otherwise I wouldn’t be able to care for Ethan properly, as well as making my life harder (I never did mastered the art of carrying a cuppa from the kitchen to the sofa while on crutches). So when I’m setting up to learn something new, I look into every possible outcome that I could potentially have, I look at features differently, I might walk round to them to get a better look and watch people hitting them, ride past them ten times and then hit them ten times before I progress on to try something more technical on them. The way I look at things as changed. I doubt this feeling will ever shift which is a weird to know. An example of this was filming the WSW Team edit before I hit the transfer, I looked that thing up and down so much, then hit each bit individually and gently and then when I was confident I could do it, went for it, but it took some time for me to get there, unlike the boys who just batwinged over it first hit, (thats you, Edd).
So two years after injury I was back to normal. Two years into motherhood and I still have that alarm bell in my brain telling me to study and assess the situation instead of just going for it. Sadly I don’t think this will ever change as I’m not number 1 anymore, Ethan is. So to all the ladies who’ve got back into riding after becoming a mother, and all the mothers in general, have a glass of champers and give yourself a pat on the back because its bloody hard and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise!
Or take up wakesurfing – its way mellower 🙂