Sweet Pete, came to me in the midst of something much different and yet very much the same as what Paul described. I was in, what felt like, the launch of my career. I would only find out later, that that was not what I was meant for and the calling to the foreign service was one that was carefully laid out for all of us.
I worked at my computer, day and night, with tiny Pete curled up on his tummy on my bed, by my side, editing weddings. Weddings I had shot when I was eight and a half months pregnant on Palm Beach. There was a lot of stress in our lives during my pregnancy with Pete and despite our constant attempts to keep things zen, I prayed that the stress wouldn't have an affect on the sweet baby growing in my belly.
Peter's entry into this world was, I now realize, a test. Something given to me by a God to say "Go ahead make an outline for the way you want your story to read, but you don't write the book." I planned on having an epidural, I planned on having him before New Years, I didn't plan on having him so fast that I missed out on the epidural. He entered this world in a room so bright and filled with so many people that I missed the very calm and serenity that we both deserved for the first time in a long time. But, I was given the gift to know what I am/was capable of and at a time that I'd need that confidence to move forward, the peace and serenity would wait.
I know without a doubt now, that my stressful pregnancy and delivery didn't have a negative effect on Pete. But, there was a whole sleepless year with my boy who wanted to eat constantly, there was doubt about our decision to uproot our whole lives, our whole family and to leave our home. There was doubt about leaving my business and doubt about leaving the country. There were adjustments to living in the city, to having two children, to having Paul working 9-5 and to me staying at home. There were still weddings to shoot in Florida and there were clients to find in DC. There was post-partum depression.
I will always be honest with my boys and have no shame in telling you that while Pete saved Paul's life, Paul was saving mine. Paul also kept Pete alive during the midnight hours, the two and three and four times a night that he got up to eat. I kept us all alive during the week, just barely.
It wasn't until Peter was about eight months old that I fled for the open wheat fields of my parents house for a break from the constant noise of the city, that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
It was Pete.
I spent all day with he and Sam, in the fresh air. We picnicked and discovered parks, much the same as we did this summer. I woke up with him each night and I was exhausted, but it was different. I finally connected with those big green-grey eyes and I fell in love. I have not stopped falling love since then, but we got off to a rough start and there is a lot to blame, none of which is important now. Pete showed me what I'm made of, he continues to every day. Pete doesn't do easy and he doesn't do fast. He takes his time in the world, his feet move more slowly than molasses, but only to make up for the fact that his brain moves faster than a jet.
He is the smartest, sweetest, fieriest boy I know. He is the first one to clap his hands when he hears "If your happy and you know it..." and he has a voice like a little songbird.
Yesterday was his first day of pre-school and he won the hearts of his teachers, too.
We are asked not to ask how the kids did at school at pick-up, which is silly, but perhaps necessary. As I waited and spied on him through his classroom window before pickup, the office lady stopped to tell me how well he did, she'd been in and out of the room all day and "He is so polite."
Then his teacher appeared to write the things they did for the day on the white-board outside his classroom and made it a point to tell me how wonderful he was.
He had told her his "Granddad flew jets and landed them on the runway of aircraft carriers." Which is partially true, but that isn't important either. They bonded over their naval pasts.
He was a ball of sunshine with a huge smile when he sprang from his class to greet us. He had painted rice blue, painted his hand white and painted the school red.
The highlight of his day was seeing Sam in his class on his was to the playground and the highlight of Sam's was seeing Pete on his way back from the playground.
Pete has two boys from India in his class, one is from Chennai. He also only speaks Tamil.
Once you realize hindsight is 20/20, it becomes so much easier to press on.