Before Sam was born, Elise encouraged me to write a letter to our unborn son. The letter to Sam was filled with hope and excitement and all the wonders I was looking forward to sharing with him.
I did the same for Peter, but Peter's letter was different. It was full of unknowns and, frankly, fear, as at the time I didn't know what was going to happen to us. I was out of work and cashing in every asset I had just to keep our heads above water and food on the table. It was impossible to keep that sense of unknowing and dread out of the letter. But at the same time, that sense of unknown created context to help explain our love for Peter...I wrote then that amidst the fear and dark tides lapping at our shores, Peter would always be treasured and loved.
I still feel that way about him. I had always felt that during what was arguably the hardest, most difficult time of my life, both personally and economically, I was given this little bundle that glowed and warmed. He helped remind me of what is really important in life. He distracted me from financial worries. He made me focus on his daily needs, instead of staring blankly at a computer screen, wondering or imagining where the next paycheck would come from, and he accompanied us on the all-important, do-or-die move to Washington, D.C....when he was only a few months old.
I wrote Peter a letter before he was born, but I should have waited until now to write that letter, because I can better tell him now what he really means to me.
Peter has never been any easy child. It goes all the way back to his entre into the world three and a half years ago--quick, yet painful. But, in those early years, he was like a lighthouse. He was always smiling and happy. Maybe my memory of the time is selective, but I felt that no matter how many months behind I was in paying the bills, Pete still smiled. He helped me realize my worth went beyond dollars.
I see commercials now for dolls with night lights built inside them. You squeeze the doll and the night light comes on and your child can fall asleep without a worry in the world. Glow Pets, their called, I think.
The first summer we were in Washington, D.C., we treated ourselves to a few nights away to celebrate the Fourth of July. We didn't travel far and stayed at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor. The picture Elise took of me and the boys there is how I always remember Peter:
Even now, when he is a moody toddler, equal parts Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with a heart full of both sunshine and thunder and lightening, I can hold him close to me and feel healed. He growls sometimes and he screams sometimes, but we are working on controlling the weather, to make rainclouds dissipate. He is Cheetah Man, after all.
I feel in many ways he saved us all. Everyone says there children are "gifts". Peter was a life buoy, thrown to someone who most needed to be pulled to shore.
Sometimes, yes, it does feel like Peter is trying to drown us, and he is a complex individual, even at...or especially because he is....three. But to me Peter will always be that boy hanging his head out the window, ready for the world to smack him in the face. That boy, hair streaming in the wind, toothless grin unabashedly shining, yearning for adventure and excitement. When rays of sunshine do shoot from his heart, when he does bring Clementine a book, hold her hand, or stick up for her on the playground, it is because of the thunder and lightening we have grown to know too well that he is all the more impressive.
Peter started school today, and I could not have been more proud of him. We knew he was ready. "Too ready," I said. He's been bored with us for over a year. Is he ready to stick his head out of the window and his face into the world and share with it his sunshine and rain?
Oh, yes. Most definitely.
The better question would be, is the world ready for Peter??
Hold on and find out.