Abby and I sit on the back porch steps looking out into the cool, gray afternoon. The event is normal, ordinary and calm. But my thoughts start to ricochet between the calm bliss of this moment and the anticipated arrival of her kindergarten debut.
Her sweet, rosy and round cheek glows in the late afternoon light. Her inquisitive and thoughtful eyes survey the barren trees and seem to reach thirstily for the future. I am awash with hope, pride and bittersweets. I see both my baby and the woman she will become, standing somewhere in the first few feet of the brick path of her life. The path being paved by her, by me, by her Daddy, and soon her kindergarten teachers, one slab of brick and mortar at a time.
I try to imagine what her eyes see, what her mind dreams. In this moment, she is an independent, formidable force, seeking, searching, seeing. Eyes and soul wide open.
How does her future path look? Is it curvy and detoured or straight and direct? I don’t know the fifteen year route but I know tonight, tomorrow and even Tuesday’s plans: play, sleep, questions, answers. Hurt, joy, anger, happiness. As much as it will all change in her distant young woman’s world, it will all be similar, familiar as different events garner the same emotions.
So I equip her with tools, big and small, subtle and strong. This is necessary as she is a complex person wondering in one moment how the sun knows how to set and in the next why her baby brother got his milk first. Not too surprisingly, the workings of my four-year-old’s mind are not too varied from my own:
Why can’t our country find a sustainable solution to poverty?
Why don’t I ever seem to have anything to wear?
This poignant back porch moment is significant because soon, for the first time in my first baby’s life, she will spend more time with other adults than with me. And maybe even more prominent is my guttural knowledge that these steps to elementary school are just the beginning of her path. A fresh, bright journey.
At this moment, her path leads us to the back porch. And so we sit, symbiotic in our journey together, as one and alone. Connected so firmly and deeply neither of our earthly, human minds can navigate the intricacies of our association. We sit, looking out, looking in, at each other and back out again.