Gidget goes Geriatric – How Old is Too Old for a Surfing Holiday?

Mom & Coop Ride Tandem

Just back from our recent fab Surfing trip to Sayulita with Coop, his pal Andrew and my pal Koko (a.k.a. Myrtle, a moniker we picked up for her while listening to a homespun radio program near the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana.  I am Sue Ellen (pronounced S’willin, but that’s another story).

When we got back home, I couldn’t wait for Myrtle to send me all three thousand two hundred and eighty four pictures (nearly) that she snapped.  Got myself comfortable, and excitedly began to go through the images when the wave of nausea hit – I spied the first picture of me, a forty-something mom, cavorting on a beach in Mexico, bopping around as if I were Gidget, (though looking rather more like Gidget’s bloated, gravity-impacted grandmother Golda, with my 16-year old son, and an ever-increasing number of other sixteen to early-twenty-year-olds.

Yup, I was squarely bitten on my Brazilian bikini-covered ass by the ugly moral conundrum known as perception versus reality.  I can still feel the sting, though it has been slightly assuaged by the horrifying mortification of what my son’s friends must have thought of his mother clearly experiencing an “awkward stage” in her mid-life crisis.

The Highlight Reel of our Trip

Now, several days after the unfortunate and revealing incident, I am still left with a feeling of embarrassment and unease, though the,”goddamnit why can’t I”, justification sequence has started to kick in.  In my desperate rationalizations, I say to myself that I have always been the athletic mom; that Coop and I have spent every summer since he could walk, swimming and playing in the ocean – boogie boarding, body surfing, surfing.   When the big waves come (“outsiders”), I taught him to swim towards them, regardless of his fear or their size.  We spent two summers working on his conquering the fear of big waves, but he got it before any other kid his age.  And if we’re too late to get to the wave in time, and it broke on us, I taught him to dive down to the bottom and pick up a handful of sand as a way to take his mind off the fear while also staying out of what could be a powerful washing machine.

My conclusion?  No doubt the surf is our playground.  As I consider this, I realize that it is a sacred place that we have always shared – where we have grown up.  Together.  These times represent a celebration of summer, of spending time just the two of us, of the hot sun, of salty skin, of ice cream cones at 3PM, and an early evening swim before dinner when hardly anyone was left on the beach and none in the water, before we would each head into our respective locker rooms at the club, spend far too much time under a hot shower, get in warm clothes and stay down at the beach for Bistro dinner, when Stuart would come down and join us.  This was our Friday schedule for over 10 years.  And we loved it.

So, while there is clearly a pang of self-consciousness at my body’s total lack of cooperation and traitorous foray to the dark side of gravity, painfully evidenced in a bikini these days (note to self – possibly more conservative bathing suit selections in future), after careful consideration, I’ve decided “screw it” – the end justifies the means.  If Cooper actually wants me to surf with him – to continue as we have done for 16 years, and play in the ocean together, I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop now.

So…look for us back in Sayulita in a couple of weeks.  I’ll be the one hanging out (literally, most likely) with the group of 16 – 23 year olds, eyeing the breaks, chatting about God knows what, surfing with my kid for hours and hours at a stretch and occasionally reminding myself that I am having the time of my life.

4 comments for “Gidget goes Geriatric – How Old is Too Old for a Surfing Holiday?

  1. June 28, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I think you look great! Good for you and keep it up!

    Much love,


  2. Shaun
    June 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Im in my 50’s and the best times of my life were spent with my Mom at the beach body surfing from 8 am till dusk. Then shower, warm clothes and A&W Rootbeer and burgers. I never noticed what she looked like in her bathing suit – we performed this ritual well into my teens. I’m a single mom and wish we lived someplace where I could do the same with my son. In fact thinking of making a trip to Cancun this summer just in order to have the opportunity.

    Good for you – he’ll remember it as fondly as I do.

  3. June 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Ahhhh. So glad it resonated with you. Thank you for your comments. Try Sayulita instead of Cancun. The pace is slower, the price is less (significantly) and the break is long and gentle. You can’t go wrong! Be happy to help if you need any ideas. LMF

  4. julie mershon
    August 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    surfing the net and came upon your sayulita surf adventure!
    love it and the pictures of our house! keep surfing love the blog
    Ventana al Mar

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