A Stroll by the Sea

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When on a date with my now husband during the weeks before we got engaged, we were taking a walk on the boardwalk by the sea.  It was early spring and the partly warm and partly cool sea breeze at the beginning of nightfall was pleasant as we strolled along the promenade.  The sound of the waves was soothing and gentle as I walked with the man who was to become my husband and the father of my children.  Our relationship, by this time, had already developed to the point where not talking could be as comfortable as talking.  We spoke intermittently, enjoying the feel of the breeze, the sound of the waves and just enjoying each others presence.  Suddenly the peaceful enchantment of our seaside stroll was abruptly interrupted by the shouts and insults towards us by some disheveled, drunk, or perhaps even drugged, looking man who sat on a bench not so far from us.  He looked as though he was getting close to middle age, though his condition made it a bit hard to tell.  He was unbathed and unkempt.  While his insults were unpleasant, we didn’t really find them hurtful in light of his state of mind and state of body.  It was more annoying for me than anything else.  My soon to be fiance then said something to me that, besides confirming my inkling that this was the man that I wanted to marry and to be the father of my children, would actually change my life as a mother and as a person.  This is what he said.  “It’s so sad.  Just think about the hopes and dreams that this man’s mother must have had for him when he was a baby.”   “Yes,” I thought.  “Just think about the hopes and dreams that this man’s mother must have had for him when he was a baby.”  My feelings of annoyance quickly shifted to pity and sorrow, and to regret at the tremendous potential lost.  What had his mother imagined for him?  A happy life.  A productive life.  Probably marriage and a family, and perhaps so much more.  And here he was, impoverished and inebriated.  It was so sad.  Every human life holds so much potential, but what can we do to bring it out?  That encounter on the boardwalk planted the seed for me for what has become some of my most central and driving questions as a mother.  What can I do to guarantee, to the very best of my ability, that such a thing will not happen to my children and to all the children that I am able to influence?  What do I want for my children and what can I do to help make it happen?  How can I best bring out the true potential of my children?  These questions are a guiding light for me as a mother.  I pray everyday to know the answers.