Eight years old is when I have my own distinct memories from my own life, as opposed to vagaries I've adopted through family stories and pictures. I remember riding (before seatbelts, before safety) in the way back of my parents powder blue Volvo station wagon (we called it the pig pen) and thinking to myself, Gee, being eight is really the greatest.
Today my son is eight. Eight years ago I was a delirious, a paper "gowned" sweatball, sitting on a yoga ball in labor, yelling at my doula, "Midwives suck! What was I thinking! Stupid Smith College! I want an epidural!" And it being too late.
I remember holding my son in my arms and distinctly thinking I was going to pass out. Shit on a shingle. I didn't even have to pass any sort of the lowest of low bubble in tests to qualify to do this, I practiced more to get my learners permit, and to be a volunteer at the Mystic Aquarium as guide to their tidepool exhibit, and suddenly (O Great and Powerful Oz) I'm the Italian Renaissance Madonna and Child.
Like a brown bear slowly waking up from hibernation is how I approach love. It is a slow thing for me. I love tentatively. Uncertainly. Sniffing around at first. Yeah yeah, I see how babies' toes are cute. Those toothless smiles. And toddler hair just woken up from a nap. Adorable. Kindergarten drawings. Sure. Whatever. I was never that mom who was milky swoony.
But now I feel that love like in the pit of your stomach there is a molten pool of magma that glows orange as the sun, that's psychedelic and galactic and it is the angel of my better nature battling like hell as I see my son riding his bike down gleefully ferociously down Chapel Hill and feel a lurch in my spleen, but it's taken me eight years. I finally know what those befuddled with love new mothers are talking about.