I have a clear memory of leaning over the side of the tub, rinsing the strawberry birthmark on my daughter’s soft baby skin as she splashed around, oblivious to me. I was responsible for her cleanliness and safety, her health and well-being. A year prior, I had been routinely pecking from a large cheese ball for dinner (on nights I actually ate dinner) and alternately puffing from Marlboro Lights and an asthma inhaler.
Now I was 25, indulging in a “Can’t believe I’m an actual adult” moment. She was four months old and (appropriately) self absorbed and entirely dependent on another person. In many ways, we were just alike. I said aloud: “Lily, I cannot WAIT for you to talk to me.”
A few weeks ago we walked through Centennial Park together on a warm spring Sunday. One mile melted into another as she lobbed enormous questions:
What is God?
What happens when you die?
Why don’t boys wear dresses?
Why are people mean to animals?
Why do people get mad at other people who don’t agree with them?
Why can’t girls ask guys out on dates?
Do things happen for a reason?
Maybe because I’m open to all kinds of answers, my child is open to asking all kinds of questions. More likely it is the other way around.
In either case, we are still in concert. I’m holding her above the water, rinsing her back, talking her through age 9. She’s waving and splashing, delighting us both, talking me through what’s left of 33.