Natalie Ogbourne

My children are all in various stages of learning to wakeboard, a sport which uses the wake, that trail of water disturbed by the passage of the boat as it moves over the surface. They wakeboard because my husband comes from a water sport loving family. They’re a family of wakeboard enthusiasts, and for that reason, they have a wakeboard boat, a boat designed to leave an especially large wake for jumps and surface tricks.

The youngest is in the beginning stages of understanding what it means to let the boat pull her into a standing position as it picks up speed and coaxes her out of the water. The older two have progressed from boarding directly behind the boat to moving cautiously from side to side, edging ever nearer to the intimidating precipice at wake’s edge, all the while becoming more and more comfortable. They have slowly and carefully crept over the top, boarded outside of the wake, and learned to make their way back in. Last summer, my middle daughter began to jump. My son, who has been at this a while, has been catching air and making solid landing for several summers.

They’ve logged hours of watching wakeboarding members of their family from the time they were tiny when their uncle introduced us to the board and the family made the switch from skiing to boarding. From the boat, we watch as the water pours over itself and spreads out behind, a smooth surface on which to play.

The wake is not yet a play place for the little one. From her side, it’s different. She floats in the water as the boat quietly idles into position to pull her up. As the boat accelerates, the engine’s growl grows from an innocent gurgle to an intense whine as the boat picks up speed. All the while she waits to feel pressure from the line on her arms, pressure that she will learn to use as the boat pulls her along while she tries to find that place where she will either stand or fall.

All that passes over the water leaves a wake, whether watercraft, swimmer, or snake. I sometimes wonder about the nature of the wake I leave as I pass through the lives of others and if it looks different to me than to those on the other side. As a mom who spends most of the waking hours with my children, I wonder especially about what I leave in their days and their lives. Does stress roll off of me as I walk through the house? Do my words sound the same to them as they do to me? I am more than a mom, and those questions linger over every interaction, every circumstance in which I find myself.

A short moment of scrutiny reveals the nature of my wake. I’ve been grumpy and negative in recent weeks, the water rough and the edges steep. My wake has been no place to play. The morning will bring fresh sight, smooth water, and every opportunity to set up a better wake, one that will encourage the people I love to stand rather than fall.