Each year I visit my sister who lives very close to the ocean. There is a particularly beautiful town that we always visit. The front of the magnificent houses face the ocean but the back of the houses are as beautiful as the front. There are wonderful gardens full of gorgoeus and colorful flowers. It has always been a magical place for me to visit each year. This year we went for a walk on Labor Day. Many of the families were packing up to go home. Parents and children were loading up the car in one driveway while next door grandparents were waving goodbye to their family as they drove down the street. It was like we were part of an ongoing scene in an old fashioned move. Only we didn't know much about the characters or what had taken place behind the scenes we were watching.
When we got to the end of the street we sat on a small bench overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying our visit. A young man approached us with a baby carriage. He sat down next to us and after a few seconds asked if we would like to see the most beautiful baby in the world. In a time when most strangers don't look at each other much less make conversation, we were a little surprised but of course we were anxious to look at the baby. He was as beautiful as his proud father said he was. For some reason this young father had an incredible need to talk and to tell us all about himself. He told us that having a ten week old son made him look at the world differently and he was having to make some very hard decisions. He worked in a job that he liked in a nonprofit organization. Although he felt he was good at working with handicapped adults, he was not making enough money so that his wife could stay home with the baby. They were living in a small house across from a park with ducks and they were very happy and satisfied with it. But it took both of their salaries to make the house payment if he continued working in the job he loved. He wanted his son to have the best of everything which in his mind didn't mean the most or the biggest. It meant being able to spend time with both of his parents and sharing the beauty that nature had to offer. He didn't ask for advice but we could tell he was reaching out for it. We told him about several programs that we knew of that would allow him to still serve people but possibly allow him to earn more money. We told him of college programs that might lead to new fields that would not mean giving up who he was. And we told him how lucky his wife and baby were to have someone who cared so much.
Walking back to the car the big houses looked a little different. We thought more about who lived in them and what sacrifices they had to make in order to get and keep their house. Was it worth it? Did it bring the family the happiness they wanted? For each family the answer would be different. But hopefully, as they made their decisions years earlier, they had given as much thought to what they were going to do as the young father with the baby with the red hair and blue eyes was giving to the decisions he was making for his family on that day.
Knowing who you are and what you believe in makes it easier to make the tough decisions. What would you do if you were in this family's situation?