Six months ago we welcomed my beautiful baby into the world. I am sure this is a bit of a surprise because despite well-founded fears based on my previous inability to keep any living thing alive (yes including cacti, the type that survive the Sahara, but apparently not my black thumb), Lagi is a healthy, hearty, happy baby, already raising one eyebrow inquiringly, in that very Samoan way.
What has suprised me most about parenting is how utterly primal it feels. I lie next to my baby at night, and listen to him breathe, and feel so innately protective I could almost growl (or rip out someone's throat). As you can imagine my poor partner has to approach the bed very very carefully.
I am surprised at how much I love the way he smells. And how much I hate it when I can smell other people, particularly females, on him. No matter how good they smell. No matter if the person I can smell on him is my darling mum, who has taken him, to try to give me some much needed sleep. I can't explain it. I figure it's some throwback to that animal ancestry.
Sometimes when he has had tears streaming down his face, I hold him in my arms, and I almost feel like licking him. Like a cat. I would like to state categorically that I have never done so. I restrain myself by kissing away his tears.
I love his smile. He's too young to know any artifice, his smile lights up his whole face. When he smiles up like that at me, his whole face glowing because he sees mine, I know he loves me and my heart feels like its going to burst out of my chest. I couldn't have imagined love so elemental. It's no wonder that in creation stories, people are said to be born of the earth. That's how this love feels, like the earth- deep and old, though he's just six-months-old.
When we have been away from each other, we collapse into each others arms in mutual need. My breasts hard with susu, he seeks out hungrily until he latches on, and we both sigh with relief and happiness.
I expected that I would find motherhood difficult. And it is sometimes. But I have never felt so in touch with myself. It's so basic this need to look after this baby, to love him, to do anything for him. Maybe Darwin didn't need to do that whole study of finches. The survival of the species must be based on mums' (and perhaps even dads') feeling this way.