we just got back from a week at the beach.
the weather was weird, every day was something different and much cooler then we had hoped.
still, we were all together and at a place that we love, so there were still many memories made.
for me, one thing i want to remember, is ben giving out hugs on the boardwalk in orange beach.
we were walking out to the beach and ben chose the longest path for us to take.
it was warm and a little sunny and ben and anna were barreling down the walkway, giddy to be heading to the beach.
there weren't many people walking out but a few walking back.
ben ran up to each one and hugged them, all the while i was apologizing, "i'm sorry, please excuse us..."
no one seemed to mind but i really wanted ben to just let them pass by.
right before we reached the end of the walkway, an older man was approaching and ben was so enthusiastic about hugging him.
the man smiled so big and hugged ben right back.
i did my usual, "sorry!" and he stopped quickly.
"for what?" he asked.
"some people are bothered by him so i..." i fumbled.
"well, that's THEIR problem!" he said smiling and reached down to hug ben again.
by now we were at the beach so we all ran down and played with our children and i kept thinking about what that man said.
when we were ready to leave and head back to our car, we once again had to make our way back on the long boardwalk.
ben and anna ran ahead of us once again and this time, when ben hugged each person on our way back, i didn't apologize.
i watched instead.
and i saw each person smile and hug him back and it was almost as if he brought out something sweet and kind in each one of them.
when he approached them, at first they didn't quite know what to do.
but then he would wrap his little arms around them and each person couldn't help but smile. and giggle.
but mostly smile.
ben was spreading love and acceptance up and down that entire beach all by himself.
and instead of apologizing, i said things like, "he's a hugger!", "he always hugs the prettiest girls!", "you're next!"
and it was so much fun letting my son be exactly who he wanted to be.
and enjoying him.
and that is a memory that i hope i never, ever forget.
it changed me.