When my little was little I remember having to get in the tub with her to make sure that she was safe. OK, maybe I didn’t have to, but the awkward lean over the ceramic rim didn’t give me enough solace to think even in her infant bath holder she wouldn’t slip off and smack her head.

For my husband, bath time has always been stressful. He was already worried she would slip and bump her head or somehow the water would cover her even as we had four eyes combined watching her like she was an eye test. And then he learned that dry drowning was a thing—forget about it.

But that was a while ago and was typically a game-time decision, often with me sitting in the bathtub in all my clothes protecting my kid from slippery surfaces. Now my daughter’s 2 and the other night she asked me to join her in the bath. She didn’t need me to prop her up and I didn’t get in because it was the best angle to wash her hair. She wanted me to come in because lately I’ve been her buddy, and much like her four Disney dollies she carries everywhere, she wanted me to do everything with her on that day.

So I did. And honestly, it wasn’t that weird.

But as I sit here trying to convince you that it’s not weird that I climbed in the tub with my daughter, my mind is still a little stuck on, “but what if I’m wrong?”

“What if I’m the only one who thinks this is normal?”

I’ve decided I don’t care.

There was something really magical about bathing with my toddler the other night. Something maternal. I wasn’t in there with her very long because I wanted her to have her space, but even when she asked me to get in with her my heart felt a little warm. She wants ME to do something with her.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little excited when she wants me to hold her over my husband at times (note: this comes with a limit. I do want her to want to be held by anybody else when she refuses to sit in a cart at the grocery store). Or when she wants to sit next to me only on the couch, or hold my hand when we’re in public. Two years in, I still have a hard time identifying myself as “mom,” but when these things happen I feel a little sparkle in my soul.

So I took off my work clothes and got in behind her so that she could have enough room to play with her bath toys. I washed her hair and scrubbed her back and felt so much like she needed me in that moment. To keep her clean, to keep her safe, to keep her healthy.

And then she handed me a Troll doll and asked me to “make Poppy swim.” She needed me to play with her, imagine with her, make her smile.

After a few rounds of splashing wars, she turned toward me and looked me in the eyes and said, “I love you, mommy,” and gave me a big wet hug. She needed me to be in it with her, to love her, to be her mom.

Some people are skeeved out by baths in general, the whole “bathing in your own filth” idea. Not me. I’m a bath person through and through and take one at least once a week, especially on Sunday nights. To me a bath is escape, relaxation, calm. I’ve had some great ones before too with the candles lit, acoustic music playing and the water hotter than lava. A good bath is the perfect treat just for me, usually.

That was until this bath. The first bath to bring me to tears. The best bath I’ve ever had. A bath with her.

What could be weird about that?

My bath buddy. Credit: Ariana Sheehan