The Ferryboat

The island stood alone in the distance. The faint glow of the lighthouse’s lens circled around and around, drawing all eyes in. When the ferryboat arrived we piled in, a skiff filled with different colors and voices and thoughts. An enchanting boat ride ensued, complete with miles of uninhabited beaches, shimmering water and wild ponies.

This family vacation felt like paradise, especially when I looked into the shining faces of my two young sons. My little guys were like coiled wire, ready to spring at any moment. Exploring the lighthouse grounds, combing the beaches, jumping in the waves…the only regretful part was that it had to end.

When the ferry returned for its cargo, we all obediently filed down the plank once again. The island spilled its contents haphazardly into the little skiff; we all sat tangled together, a mass of arms and legs and sun kissed skin. My little one sat on my lap, his brother to my right, subdued into silence by the motor’s lullaby. I felt the small body in my arms jostling about. I was aware of the flashes of light reflected off the pristine waters as the sun receded into the indigo bed below it. My heart was filled with thankfulness and quiet joy.

The kinship of the ocean drew me to the faces of the others. Their expressions held the peacefulness that I, too, felt. A mother, in middle age, sat with her teen-age son, shoulder to shoulder. The fullness of his forearms and upper chest jiggled with the rhythm of the skiff on his still developing frame. They were seemingly unaware that their bodies were touching, sitting impassively side by side. His coloring was hers, his eyes, her eyes.

I buried my face in the hair of my young son and breathed him in. He smelled of salt and sand, of sun warmed flesh. My heart swelled with love for this little boy. I wondered if we would grow into this mother and son who were jostling about before me. Will there be a time when his kisses and hugs will not flow so freely? When we will sit dispassionately beside one another, side by side bumping through life?

The answer to my question is reflected in the shrug of my older son’s shoulder as I reached over to gently touch him. Recently he said to me, quite seriously, “Mom, you have to stop this hugging stuff.”

With only the slightest hesitation and with a lump in my throat I responded, perhaps a little too emphatically, “Never! As long as I live I will never stop wanting to hug you and kiss you.”

I gazed at the mother and her adolescent son again from under the cover of my lashes. They seemed happy, appeared to be comfortable sitting there aside one another.

I would have worried had the teenage boy been sitting close to his mother and cuddling her as my littlest was doing me. After all, isn’t it our job to fledge them well? To send them soaring from the nest while we stand patiently alone?

Alone, like the island until the ferryboat arrives to fill it full of life and color once again.


  1. says

    Once again, you tell the story and take me there, Laura. I loved this. I went on the ferry boat with you. And I related to the thoughts, as I face them with my own 10 year old son. How does it feel so good and hurt so much to be a parent all at the same time? I guess when you love hard, you know.

    Keep hugging and touching those precious gifts of yours, Laura. They secretly want you to.

    Love you much!
    Lisa 🙂

  2. says


    I tell both of my boys all of the time, “Even when you’re 40, you will still be my baby!” 🙂

    But even now, when my sixteen year old is upset about something, he will let me hold him. (Just not in public.) 😉

    And my 13 year old is the same way, especially if he’s tired.

    As a mom to two teenage boys, I have learned to take the loving that I can get when I can get it. And even when they are not demonstrative with their love, I still know they love me….But it is so hard to let go of those sweet cuddly years.

    Keep holding on, Momma!
    God Bless,

  3. says

    Yes, it is our job. But is also our hurt. Our growing pains, alongside theirs. Grow anyway. One day you will surprised at their return to your lap.

    I’ve been surprised by it, and I am grateful for all that it means to me.

    When my 19 year old is home from college, he always makes a point of telling me goodnight, giving me a hug an echoing the words…

    Love you, mom. Lots and lots and lots and lots.

    This is the same son who sent me flowers on the day he left for college with a card reading,

    “If home is where the heart is, then my home will always be with you.”

    Fear not in watching them grow. They will return, and all the tears along the way will be worth the man he becomes.


  4. says

    Yes, my friend, I have been there, am there. I have one teenage son who would be appalled if I hugged him in front of anyone. The other gladly hugs me.
    One’s 16 the other 14. They still hug and kiss me goodnight, after all no one’s looking.

    Yet when the get sick, who do they want to comfort and care for them….yep, ME.

    Time is flying by at warp speed.

    My 18 year old daughter leaves for her first airline flight TO INDIA on Monday. She will have a 3 hour layover in Chicago. It’s hard to let her get on the plane, after all she sure is cute. Maybe I could put a shroud over her or put camoflauge paint on her face so no one will see her beauty. Some ask me how I can let her go. I ask them, “how can I not”?
    She’s headed on a 3 week trip to stay with some missionary friends and gain insight into the culture and life of a missionary. She wants to help people, to see how they live. How can I not send her? She is His, after all.

    I hear you….I understand….it’s hard when they begin the transition into adulthood, and manhood.
    The boys sorta leave their mothers behind and gravitate towards their father. I am glad I read Wild At Heart. It helped me understand.

    Thank you for your sweet message you left on my post. It always blessed my heart when you stop by.

    You are truly a gift from above.

    Hugs & Love to you this day,

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