I had a scar once. It was the subtlest line of slightly raised tissue on the uppermost spot on my right thigh. I was fascinated with it as a little girl, crafting different scenarios by which I came to have it. These weren’t stories I shared with anyone, just events I explored in my mind. I had dalliances with perfectionism as a girl, worrying that this or that wasn’t just so, but this scar, this mark, it suggested having done something. I had braved something. And I loved this scar with its delicate pink and white streaks. I still have it, but it does not take center stage as it used to. Now my fingers are more likely to trace the sprays of lines that spring from the corner of each eye, or the freckles I see on my girls.

Watching the girls now, I wonder what their secret scars might be. What are the things that they roll around in their minds, or absentmindedly trace fingers along as they sit alone. Does Briar turn her back in the mirror and look at the constellation of three freckles that dance from arm, to torso to underarm when she stands just so? Or does she see something else, is it the way one finger tilts inward? Does Avery tense her legs and watch the way her musculature flexes, snapping to attention and burning with a strength that has always belied her age? And Fin, does she ponder how with just the wrinkle of her nose or tilt of her head she can play each one of us?

These past months I’ve been growing increasingly aware of the shift in what we share. The echoes of my own childhood, whether I listen to them with the sentimental ears of an adult child or the yearning-for-knowledge searching of a mom on ever more unfamiliar terrain, I recognize they are my own. Clues about how I was parented or how I interpreted things as a kid—they are a part of where I come from and an important part of who I am, but they are not my daughters’ childhood.

If I listen, really listen, my girls don’t want what I had, they aren’t licking the wounds of what may have hurt me, they just want me. They will not point out the things that they wonder about in private, that is theirs, and for it to be truly theirs, I have to allow that everything about them is not mine to discover.

My scar today, as faint as it was then, still soft to my fingers and still completely without concrete explanation. It is a precious, potent memory of my mind then. It speaks to me of imagination and confidence. Looking up from my scar I think about my life with these amazing girls and I allow my imagination run with the whispers they will hear so many years from now as they think back to when they were little girls.

*This post was written in response to Momalom’s Five for Five topic: Listening.