Olivia Newport daughter photo

A favorite picture of my daughter. She’s always had amazing hair.

In a few days, my daughter will be a quarter of a century old. She’s my youngest. Hard to believe!

It’s a exciting time for her. Recently she got engaged, and a couple of weeks after that started a new job after being a well loved and valued employee at the same place since she was 17. (She worked full time all through college, determined to graduate without debt.)

You know, acting like a grownup.

Every now and then we have a conversation about something that happened during her childhood—a family vacation, a birthday, some event or another. I sometimes think she was too little to remember, or my memories are full of stress that blocks out the details.

And then she describes what she remembers, and I totally don’t remember what she does.

The latest story was about a trip we took when she was nine or so. Apparently I’d given her a copy of The Secret Garden that came with a locket and a tiny little key that went into a tiny little lock on the book. (I know. Locking the secret garden. Fun, right?)

Totally don’t remember that. But it shouldn’t surprise me. I loved that book as a little girl.

And apparently her brother, two years older, got his hands on the book during that trip and lost the tiny little key. She was aggravated all over again just thinking about it.

Totally don’t remember that, either. At least he didn’t try to deny it.

I love hearing what she remembers from her childhood. The differences between my perspective as the mom always keeping the balls in the air and how my children experienced events reminds me that we each have our own stories. All of us see life through a grid that forms because of these experiences—what we come to believe is true, emotions, trigger points, laughter, the things that make us gooey in the middle, the things that get our backs up. No one’s grid is exactly the same as someone else’s, even though they may experience the same events.

And that, my friends, is what makes the fiction-writing wheel go round. Characters see the world differently because of past events, and those differences translate into actions that keep the plot moving.

My latest release is Meek and Mild. In a few months, be on the lookout for Brightest and Best.

In the meantime, happy birthday to my baby.