Do you see his teeth? His big, beautiful front teeth. They’re permanent. They’re important. He has to take care of them.
When your baby turns one, you think, I did it. I survived the first year. When your son turns eight, you think, This is forever. He’s mine and he’s important and oh my god I need to take care of him.
Like those big, beautiful front teeth.
We don’t think about eight when our baby is born. We don’t think about Native American dioramas, mean kids, vision therapy, the plight of shoelaces, wearing a helmet when rollerblading because I said so, or the cost of braces. We don’t think of the miles upon miles of deep in the pit of your stomach, heartbreaking, heart-melting, and heart-fixing mothering that lies ahead. Then eight happens, and when you dare to open your eyes, you’re standing at a water stop in a mostly uphill race. You’re too far from the start line to go back, but you’re too far in to quit. You’re thirsty and determined, but your legs are tired.
Eight is remembering the day he was born like it happened yesterday but feeling in my bones the years that have passed.
Eight is remembering the exhilarating fear of holding his warm body in my arms for the first time and feeling something eerily similar today.
Eight is less wishing it away and more wanting to slow slow it down.
Eight is wondering if I’ve even scratched the surface of hard.
Eight is smiling at the universe anyway because my son fell asleep on his eighth birthday under the same full moon that lit up the sky on the night he was born.
Eight is real.
Like those big, beautiful front teeth (that probably will need braces).