Monday, 22 August 2011

Motherhood and Darwin's Descent of Man

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.


reesa said...

This post gives me that warm, nice feeling inside as I recall when I first had Maaveave. He's five years old now and we forget so easily these times when they are ulavale. But just this morning, he opened his eyes and said, "Mummy, I love you." Just like that.

Coconut Girl said...

You're really smitten aren't you :) I know just what you mean, and I agree with reesa that we forget when they are driving us up the wall, just how special they are to us. With my 3, when all 3 are fast asleep in bed, I look at them and am overwhelmed with love (and guilt for how I treat them sometimes) and I give them one last hug before I go to sleep. I sleep with my baby. She wakes up first, presses her nose to mine and gurgles "Mummy! MUMMY!" and that is the best wake-up call in the world.

Thank you for this post. It is a reminder to a mother like myself to appreciate the little things in my children and remember that they are just that. Children. Sweet children who love their mummy very much.

Pusi nofo said...

Oh this post is just gorgeous!! I have a gorgeous 3mth old girl (HUGE gap between her and her older siblings) and I can sooo relate to all this LOVE you have for your son...I love my baby so much it blows me away!!

Lani Wendt Young said...

ok, u just about made me cry with this one. My very last baby is going to be 4 in a few months. I cant have any more and so this 'baby' has been reared with many bittersweet moments. I will never breastfeed another baby. Never feel again that moment when you've gone to hell and back and then they give you that (ugly wizzened) darling and you know it was all worth it. My baby has graduated to sleeping in her own bed, but sometimes I still say (piteously) "Do u want to come and sleep with Mama tonight?" Most times she says No. (dagger to my heart) and I am reminded again, that she is NOT a baby. and every day, she takes one more step away from me. Into teenager-hood. Into adulthood.
and now I really am sniffling!

reesa said...

Oh the times when they're asleep is the BEST! They really are angels when they're fast into slumber and I just shower them with kisses (for Afele, its the only time I can really snuggle with him) and whisper "I love yous" into their ears.

Teine Samoa said...

Thanks Reesa- Lagi hasn't said his first words yet but I imagine he says 'I love you mummy' with his eyes! Oh but he is already ulavale!!! LOL. Yes CG- totally and utterly head over heels! Not sure I'll still feel this way when they are multiple and crawling all over me. Then it might be like-go to daddy!!! So am treasuring while I have the time to treasure :-) Oh Lani- you just made me almost cry, imagining a time when my little boy is too grown up to sleep with his mummy!!! Thanks again- it really is lovely to have mums who can totally relate!!!

ReaderWriter said...

Malo lava! I absolutely love reading your blog. I have a 6 month old boy who is just an armful of gurgles and giggles so I really relate to your post about the whole maternal instinct thing. Babies are just beautiful! All the best with your gorgeous little bubba and look forward to reading more of your posts.

Teine Samoa said...

Thanks ReaderWriter, It's nice to know someone else with a baby the same age is reading and relating!!!

jo_an said...

I really loved your post.! especially the part you wrote that said : "..It's no creation stories, people are said to be born of the earth. That's how this love feels, like the earth - deep and old..." That really sums up how I feel about my own as well. I could never really describe that feeling, and now I can, so thank you.