My husband is a fisherman. Not by trade, but certainly by hobby.
He grew up in Seattle, so for him, fishing in the Pacific Ocean was a regular thing. It is something my husband and his dad still enjoy doing together when they get the chance.
Recently when the perfect little used boat became available for the right price, we jumped at the chance to own it.
Personally, fishing has never been something I’ve gotten that excited about. It seems like a lot of effort (and sort of mean) to hook some poor, unassuming fish who was tricked into taking an innocent bite. I’d hate to end up with a hook in my lip after taking a big bite of a good-looking donut, after all.
Of course, it's fair to say that I never mastered my fishing skills: My one memory of fishing as a child consists of tying a piece of string to a stick and wondering why the fish didn't bite.
Nevertheless, when my husband’s career brought us right smack dab in the middle of the country, he had to trade salmon fishing in the Pacific for Midwestern lake bass fishing. And though we don't have a large lake in our town, we do have a pretty little lake that's just big enough for a (very) small motor boat. That little lake and boat are all my husband needs to satisfy the fishing desire deep within his soul.
So we join him.
Sometimes all of us, or sometimes he just takes one or two kids. Either way, his fishing passion is contagious.
While aboard that little boat, I watch the man I love invest in our children in a positive way. He desires that they learn a skill he learned from his father, and thus, he is passing down a tangible form of his love.
My husband sees potential in each of our kids as they attempt their new skill. He teaches, models, and talks to them through each and every part of the experience.
On that little boat with my family, I breathe in deep with gratitude, even if I am sitting on a semi-broken chair that leans back so far it could be mistaken for an aquatic Barcalounger. After all, my view from that little chair is wonderful.
I get to enjoy the beauty of nature as the sky's colorful hues are reflected on the water and the evening rays of the sun stream in from between the trees. It serves as a backdrop for the happy faces of my husband and children.
And I get to see my husband going from child to child, helping them reel in a tiny bluegill as they squeal with delight. I observe him patiently explain the correct fishing technique to them, even when their lines cross and he has to untangle yet another knot.
From my chair on the boat, I witness the beauty of fatherhood on display. And indeed, it is worth every minute.
Yet, there have been messes. It’s not all pretty.
In a few short weeks of owning the boat and only a few trips out, I had already been sprayed with fish water and had gotten my finger caught in a rogue hook (with no Band-aids handy). The kids have gotten covered in dirt and have lamented many a lost fish. They have argued over the “best seat” on the boat (next to Daddy) and have nearly fallen in the water more than a few times.
And there was that time the motor stopped working and we had to get towed back to shore. Perhaps the most disappointing thing, however, was spilling half a bag of very worthy BBQ chips into the murky water pooled on the floor of the boat.
But on our little boat, my kids are watching their father in his element, a man who is often busy, traveling or tired after a stressful day of work.
And it’s worth it.
They come to life when he comes to life. They sense his passion, and they want to experience a little of his passion for themselves. And when he delights in their catch, they burst with pride and radiate joy.
At the end of the night, when everyone is bathed and free of pond residue, I again see the positive effects of our little fishing excursions.
Our kids feel loved. Our family has grown closer.
Obviously we get closer in proximity (because, you know, the boat is tiny) but we also grow closer emotionally, because the kids and their dad have bonded over a hobby that brings him joy.
My husband’s fishing passion may not be my passion, but I am passionate about my family.
So if fishing is the way to experience that family joy, I’m hooked.