My husband gets to travel frequently with his job. At times it means we all get to tag along, especially if he is driving somewhere. This past week we had the privilege of visiting one of my childhood stomping grounds, Port Townsend, Washington. We left early in the morning, packed cereal in baggies and stopped for snacks. It takes 4 hours of driving. Turning off of I5 just past Tumwater we enjoyed the windy scenic 101 up the Hoods Canal and onto 20 along Discovery Bay, until we are across from the north end of Whidbey Island.
Our hotel room overlooked Puget Sound, and the kids were glued to the balcony railing watching sail and fishing boast float into and out of the jetty and marina. My husband headed off to his meetings and with a diaper changed and necessities taken care of, my three little companions and I set out for a walk into town. My son leaping and charging, my daughter carefully hanging onto the end of my sweater, my toddler swinging his feet and waving to passing cars from his stroller.
After lunch we walked through the little waterfront town. We went to a couple of old stores that still smell the same as I remembered from 18 years ago, my children enthralled with the toys and window displays, just as my sisters and I had been. The streets and building were exactly as I remembered, with a few new stores replacing one of my family’s favorite cafes. We walked out onto the pier where grizzled old men sat shirtless in the sun, delighted to engage my kids and good-naturedly tell me a thing or two about parenting. Only a few swear words slipped out, and they looked enough embarrassed to let it pass. My kids giggled and covered their mouths with their hands, looking up at me for my reaction. We watched ferries land and take off with their loads of people and cars, and we yelled hello to various boaters that came within earshot.
My wonderful husband met us as we were heading down to the beach to throw pebbles into the water. Not an activity my sisters and I engaged in as children, but one that delighted my boys. With Daddy present more than pebble throwing took place, and my children, dripping and sandy, kept the questions about sharks, crabs, “sea enemies” and dolphins flying as they traipsed over piling rocks behind their Hero. As tummies began to rumble, my older kids gleefully charged up the path when asked if they’d like to ride the ferry the way Mommy used to. My toddler joined in with just as much exuberance as he scrambled after his sister and brother.
On the Ferry we treated the kids to hot dogs and chocolate milk. They could hardly hold still to eat. Their eyes were huge and their words were tumbling and high pitched. My sons clapping, stomping and jumping. My daughter quivering and giggling. As soon as dinner was consumed we were off to explore every inch of the boat, something I remember doing with my sisters so well. “Mom, did you see this with Aunt Candy and Aunt Ali?” “Mom, did you go all the way to the top when you were little?” “Mom, did you get as close to the water as I am when you were with Nonie and Grandpa?” “Mom, did you have this much fun?” Yes.
With the kids asleep in their beds, my husband and I sat on the balcony bundled in sweats, hoodies and a blanket, eating our supper. Our fingers brushed and our eyes met and we smiled. The sun set brilliantly and boats floated by us quietly. Light clouds came in and the moon illuminated the sky and the distant spots of snow on the mountains behind the water. We sat there holding hands shivering and remembering and laughing… just reconnecting, until 1 am.
When my toddler woke up at 5am my husband gently pushed me back into the pillows and swept him up in his arms. They left the room and walked the shore below our hotel together in the hazy morning light. My older two quietly crawled into bed with me and we snuggled into consciousness lazily.
“This is the bestest of your kid life you have shared with us, Mom,” my six year old whispered.
“Can this place be part of our kid life for always,” my eight year old asked, brushing my arm with the back of her tiny hand. The only response I could offer in that moment was to snuggle them closer and quietly thank the Lord for this amazing adventure He is walking us through, sometime on repeat.