I wasn’t the woman who knew what kind of parent I would be. It wasn’t that I never thought about it, but beyond the parenting I was receiving, I didn’t have an appreciation for it. I suppose what I did know is this: that I would meet teachers along the way. And these teachers turned out to be not only people but experiences I could look to as guides for the road that lay ahead.
In writing our Travel Moments With Kids, I realized that travel provides important teachers. What we’ve experienced, and the people we’ve met along the way, have been teachers for my husband and me as parents and spouses, and for our kids as newer beings on this place we call earth.
We pulled into our second Croatian island port, Lobster Island, a place I wished everyone could see: a few houses and fish restaurants, solely dedicated to the sailboats that stop for dinner. The restaurant that had been recommended was modest but we were here for the seafood.
As we docked the boat, the kids took a navy shower on the back of the boat with Sean. He gently washed away the sea and salt their bodies had collected throughout the day. Under the setting sun, Sean and the kids laughed and hugged as water dripped from the thin white hose.
Even before we stepped off the boat, the lobster and mussel fisherman was hard at work. Although not a young man, he was strong and focused. With his obscenely large black flippers, he sank headfirst into the bay, the tips of his duck-like fins peeking out from the clear blue sea.
This was a man who had lived no other life. He was a master of his trade. He didn’t smile, but it was clear he took pleasure in the smiles his work brought to the kids’ faces. Still, I found myself staring, waiting for a smile as he dove back into the clear blue water—his fins diving back beneath the water’s surface. I was so mesmerized, I forgot to snap a single photo. Uuuggghhh!
After the fisherman was finished with our bucket, we made our way up the stairs. The ambience in the restaurant was welcoming: wooden chairs, traditional family style tables, lights hanging loosely from the ceiling. The sun was almost down now, casting an effervescent light across the settling water and sky.
From our table I could still see the fisherman hard at work. I thought about what I do for a living, and how different our lives were. I thought about how I had a desire to make a difference in the world—and sometimes that stressed me out.
Maybe like the fisherman I could put more focus on the small things in my life and do them really well, with appreciation and depth. It was as though the fisherman was saying to me: Love for what you do is not measured by how far your influence travels. Sometimes, impact that docks closest to home is most important. Perhaps the small things would allow me to be more present in the moment.
The black buckets filled with seafood were carried into the restaurant by two Croatian women in over-sized stained aprons. I watched again for a smile on the fisherman’s face as he dove back into the clear blue water—his fins playfully splashing. I envisioned them smiling.
As the sun set on the crystal blue cove, the delicious smell of steamed mussels and other traditional Croatian dishes finally headed our way. We quickly emptied the overflowing bowl of tasty black-shelled delicacies. With broth dripping from my lips, I dipped fresh crispy bread deep into the bottom of the bowl and noticed Braeden doing the same. I was here, in this moment, living every small and meaningful detail. I was in heaven.