I was standing beside my daughter today when I noticed the scar.
I had just been commenting on the fact that she’s getting taller, stretching toward adulthood way too fast for me. When a child’s first birthday in your home is their 9th, the years of “little” are very few.
And there was the scar, near the top of her head. It’s thick and white and is usually covered by her hair, but I see it most every day as I’m spinning a braid into the black strands.
Recently someone asked me about it. They saw the way her hair flopped to the side and noticed the stark whiteness of the scar. “What happened there?”
I said the words that haunt me. “I don’t know.”
It was a bad cut, that’s for sure. On her head. It must have bled like a fright. It must have scared her caregivers to death. She probably went to a hospital. It looks like it was closed with stitches. Did they cut her hair? Or just shave that spot?
She told me one day that it was from jumping into a kiddie pool that didn’t have any water in it. Another day it was a fall from a bike. Another day it was from running into a partially closed door.
It’s possible all of those things happened. Perhaps one of them caused the scar, or maybe it was something else entirely.
I’m her Mommy, but I can’t tell her where the mark came from. It’s agony for me. It’s part of her lost childhood.
Did she ever have chicken pox? When did she start walking? What was her first word? Did she crawl on her hands and knees or do an army-crawl? When did she start eating solid food? When did she lose her first tooth? How old was she when she learned to write her name?
Questions that have no answers. A child doesn’t remember these things about themselves… a mother remembers it all for them. But I can’t remember them for her. I wasn’t there. I don’t know.
There are days when this truth causes me sorrow. I wish I had been there. I would give most anything to have been there. But for some reason, God did not allow that to happen. Instead, she arrived when she was eight.
But this is the thing I must remember– this is the truth I cling to– I know today. Yes, my daughter has a lost childhood but God is redeeming that. He is giving her a new start in a family that will remember.
We begin from now, from today. We mark the memories in photos and notes. Our lists grow.
- We write down her hilarious sayings, like the day she told me, “Well, Mom, the truth is that you have more patience than Daddy, but you’re also more boring.”
- We celebrate the first tooth she loses at our house.
- We save the first little bit of a haircut.
- We fill a baby book with her “first seven years HOME”.
- We talk about the time she went running down the driveway to meet Daddy and skinned her knee. It scars and I’m thankful. I know the story behind that one.
- We talk about how we chose her middle name and how we debated and changed our minds so many times.
- We tell stories about when she first came home and I gave her a package of gum and she ate the whole package. All at once.
- We laugh about the time we went sledding and it wasn’t until half way through the afternoon that we realized she was talking all of her new cousins into pulling her back up the hill, every. single. time.
And here lies the truth about lost childhoods: They aren’t the end of the story.
It’s true that my daughter was moved through four homes before she came here, and that’s sad. But it’s also glorious because she made it here. We’re together. We’re going to survive this.
And the story doesn’t end with a lost childhood, it ends with family.