Moms Making Waves
Local women find support through a surfing sisterhood
What began in 2018 as a Facebook group for surfing mothers is today the Wrightsville Beach Surf Mamas. The goal of the group is to empower mothers to reconnect to their passions and build community, according to LISA DUNLAP. “As we all know, motherhood and the postpartum phase can be really challenging for women. There is so much isolation, changes in our bodies and less time for things we love,” she says. “For us surfers, it’s even harder. We have less time to devote to surfing, our bodies look and feel totally different, and it can be overwhelming and intimidating to get back out there when you haven’t surfed in years.”
“Brooke (Acas), Juli (Cullins), and I each had similar ideas and missions for a surfing moms group in Wilmington at different times,” Dunlap says. “Our current mission is to empower rad moms and their families who live in North Carolina to reconnect to their passions again, build confidence, prioritize themselves, and build community through surfing.”
By providing the infrastructure needed for moms, Dunlap says the group allows members to be better mothers and partners – and better surfers. The Wrightsville Beach Surf Mamas meet regularly to hit the waves for both moms-only and family-friendly surf sessions. Surf lessons help members improve their skills. And in addition to time spent on the water, the group also organizes moms nights out and child care trades.
This kind of support enables mothers like JULIMARIA CULLINS, who grew up in a family of surfers, to get back on their boards. The camaraderie of the Wrightsville Beach Surf Mamas community reminds her of the one she knew in her youth. “I grew up surrounded by surfing women. My childhood best friend’s mom was the world champion surfer in 1983, and I always had a surf girl crew,” Cullins says. “Therefore, when I became a mother, I missed having a group of females to be with in the water.”
Acas is a Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach native. “I grew up surfing in Wrightsville Beach and enjoyed working at Bert’s Surf Shop as a teenager. I was able to work with some great seasoned surfers there that taught me how to read the waves and understand the ocean better,” she says.
Although the women come from different backgrounds, their collective families, careers, talents, and knowledge have allowed this group to thrive. Plans for future growth include organizing surf retreats in the Outer Banks this fall and to Puerto Rico next spring, and eventually, the group hopes to expand to other communities along the North Carolina coast. According to Dunlap, their success is due to member input and the importance it holds; consistency in meetups; child care trades so that all surfers have the chance to get a break; including dads in family meetups to encourage moms to come without the guilt; and including all levels of surfers to make sure everyone has fun without exclusions.
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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