Cathy ZielskeCZ Life64 Comments


Written on April 2, 1996, during the whirlwind days following the phenomenal Aidan Zielske's entrance into this world.

My first born is 15 today. One-five. 3 times 5. Half of 30. One year from driving. Three years from—gasp—college. Part of me wants to say, "How did this happen?" even though I know exactly how it happened: this is what life does, it just keeps on moving.

It would be an understatment to say I wish I'd lived more in the moment when she was younger. I wish I'd been able to be aware of the awareness I'd have in the here and now—that this precious and brilliant soul won't always live within these four walls. She won't always sleep just two doors down from me. She won't always need me to make her meals, and clean her clothes and remind her to brush her teeth. And she won't always need or want my opinions and advice.

I plan to make the most of these years with her, even when her teenaged self might want nothing to do with her well-intentioned but slightly annoying mother. I plan to learn as much as I possibly can about who she is and who she is on her way to becoming.

And I'm going to keep trying really hard not to mess it up and get in her way.

Happy birthday, Aidan Isabella. Part of me aches for the little girl you are leaving behind, and part of me tries to imagine the woman you are on your way to becoming.

But the part of me that is the luckiest gets to see who you are, right now, at 15. And every day to follow.


I love you more than french fries.

Love, Mom.


Cathy ZielskeFifteen.

64 Comments on “Fifteen.”

  1. #3

    As a mother of a daughter, thank you for putting things so beautifully and concisely. I hope when my daughter turns 15 I will remember this post and put the text somewhere prominent to remind me of what has been, what is, and what will be ……. that’s a bit too philosophical for me at 9pm. Happy Birthday Aidan.

  2. #4

    Happy Birthday Adian -it is funny I have been watching you grow for five years now ( which is as long as I have followed your amazing mom ) and watch you grow to a young lady just as my own daughter has, I often commenting to my daughter how alike you seem to be even though you are countries apart both great kids- have an fantastic day from us both over here in Ireland.

  3. #6

    “Part of me aches for the little girl you are leaving behind, and part of me tries to imagine the woman you are on your way to becoming.” This is so beautiful, Cathy! I feel the same way – my oldest will be 13 next week. It is a bittersweet grieving process to realize they are never going to be “little” again.

  4. #7

    Cathy I love the way you write your thoughts. I’ve enjoyed watching Aidan grow up with my just turned 14yr daughter. You have done a wonderful job with her and you are both lucky to have each other. She is beautiful just like you. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY AIDAN, HAVE A GREAT, FUN, LOUD, CRAZY BIRTHDAY!! Cathy happy birthday to you as well. I love the story of how she was born.

    We just got our first official scheduling notice for my daughter who will start high school in the fall. So I’ve already been counting down the years we have left too. Thanks for reminding me to treasure them.

  5. #8

    Happy BDay Aidan! Whether you realize it or not, it has been and continues to be a joy to watch you grow through your mama’s scrapbook pages. What a gift you are to your family and they, to you. Keep growing! Keep learning! Be true to the amazing young lady you are! Enjoy today and every day!

  6. #9
    Lee Currie

    More than french fries? Whoa! Happy Birthday, Aidan! I hope all of your birthday wishes come true — and more 🙂 My daughter is just a little bit older (15 in December) and it has been an incredible journey. Enjoy yours!

  7. #10
    Glenda Thorne

    My mom is 76, I’m 58, my daughter is 31 and my 3 lovely grand daughters are 51/2; 2 1/2 & 8 months old. It doesn’t matter how old you get you still want your mom to cook for you; clean up after you; you will always want her opinion or advise. it is a never ending circle and we are so lucky as women to be a part of it all.
    Happy 15th Birthday Aidan.

  8. #12
    Lisa R

    Happy Birthday to the sweet girlie who I will always remember for writing our names in chalk on the front steps to welcome your mom’s friends. What a wonderful, independent, creative, spirited young lady you’ve grown into – so much like your momma. Keep up the good work, kiddo. 🙂

  9. #13

    I didn’t realize until today that our oldest children were so close in age. Mine turns 15 on Monday. It is quite the journey! Happy Birthday Aiden.

  10. #15

    Have a beautiful blessed BIRTHDAY day! Enjoy the many smiles and hugs you will no doubt receive today. We love March Birthdays as we have many in our family. My son turned 16 last week. Have a happy, happy day!

  11. #16

    As the Mom of a boy who will turn 14 in a few days, I totally and completely understand how baffling it feels to realize that they’re suddenly this old… it doesn’t seem possible that it’s flown by so fast. I too sometimes ache for the baby he was, but feel so proud to watch him grow into a young man.
    A beautiful post Cathy- Happy Birthday Aidan!

  12. #18

    Cathy, forgot to mention that I love her name, especially her middle name. That has always been a favorite of mine but never got to use it.

  13. #20
    Kelly R

    i have three kids under age 6 and this is a great reminder to me to slow down and enjoy these days. i need to live in the moment and cherish the memories we are creating each day. i think i’ll be lost the day my kids don’t “need” me anymore. thank you, cathy!
    and happy birthday to aiden!

  14. #21

    Happy Birthday to Aidan! A truly great post to remind us to soak up the “now” and live in the present.

  15. #24

    *sniff* Happy birthday, Aidan! It’s like we’ve watched you grow up through your mom’s scrapbook pages in her books, in the magazine and on her blog. Fifteen! I hope it’s a great year for you. 🙂

  16. #28
    Stephanie S

    Happy Birthday Aidan. Watching you grow up these past 8 years has been pure joy. Cathy (and DAN)your children amaze me with humor, poise and confidence. I look forward to seeing the family again in May!

  17. #30

    Happy Birthday One Five!!! You are probably one of THE coolest girlies I’ve seen in a long time! Don’t lose it!

  18. #31



    N!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and many more!!!!!!!!!!!


    I couldn’t have said it any better myself—I read today’s post through tears in my eyes—they just grow up way too fast!

  19. #32


    You are amazingly lucky that you live in the era of digital cameras and that you have been taking photos and journaling about your kids so that you have a permanent record of their childhood. As you realize, the years go by so fast – I remember seeing your young children in your first book! Happy birthday, Aidan!

  20. #34

    Best post ever. Just what I needed to read in a room surrounded by toys, with a 3 yr old and 5 yr old. Thank you for sharing it!

    And happy birthday, Aidan!

  21. #36
    Melissa Kennedy

    Cathy, I don’t know if you would want the keen awareness that you baby is going to leave you someday when she was little. My kids are 2 and 4, and since both of my kids have been born it seems that I struggle seeing them for the little tiny needy people that they are right now – I’m too busy looking down the road. It is a pessimistic view of parenting that I struggle to override every day – with varying degrees of success. If I could be blissfully unaware and live in the moment I would see accomplishments for what they are, not as another step closer to them not needing me or wanting me. It’s a fine line.

  22. #37

    I have 2 boys: 17 & 20. The younger is special needs, so his childhood did not seem to ‘fly by’ at all, rather, his childlike innocence seemed to last forever. I have had the realization that it’s not that their childhoods are so fleeting as much as it’s once they are gone, they are gone forever. I ‘miss’ the people they ‘used to be’. I like who they are now, but I still miss who they once were. I guess that is rhythm of time marching on.

    I guess that’s why GOD gives us grandchildren 🙂

  23. #38

    I guess in hindsight, I wish i hadnt been so focused on the future with them, when I would be able to work longer hours as a freelancer, when theyd start school and so on. I think I was more self-absorbed than I should have been. i guess thats part of my regrets. I think living IN the moment would have been a goal. But I cant go back. Sigh. : )

  24. #40

    Happy Birthday Aidan!
    I love what you’ve written here and feel it could all apply to me as my youngest turns 15 in September. I can’t believe my baby is growing up so fast but I love the young woman she is becoming.
    Luckily, I can now enjoy watching my first grandchild as she grows up and I look forward to making the most of all the stages 🙂

  25. #42
    Tammy B

    Happy, happy birthday to you, Aidan! Hope you have a wonderful birthday and an amazing year! Great job Cathy! Your girl is so lovely!

  26. #43

    Happy Birthday Aidan!
    Cathy, my heart ached reading this beautiful post, as my eldest daughter turns 15 in a few months too. I feel so blessed that I get to hold on to her for just a few more years, but can’t help but feel a little sad that those younger days are gone forever.
    I think I’m actually starting to look forward to being a Grandma already!

  27. #45

    My son turned 14 today, so your post really hit home with me. I, too, regret not living in the moment more. I can’t change the past, but I will be present for the rest of the time he’s at home. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

  28. #46

    Aww. My kids are going to be 8 and 5 in the next couple of months, and that’s hard enough. My little girl asked tonight (having come in as I was getting dressed) why my “tummy is all stripey”… when I replied it was stretchmarks from carrying her and her brother, she said “Oh! I guess I’ll get those in like. . . 40 years!” (I’m 30).

    I can’t even fathom 15. But big enough to tie shoes would be nice.

  29. #47

    Very beautiful. Sniffle, sniffle. I chuckled a bit, because I would never had written something like that in my early postpartum days. I was a mess. But we all get there in our own time.
    This weekend my brother had his 18 year old son on his lap. My nephew will be heading off to study in a few months, and my brother actually just started to cry. It was very sweet. Your post just reminded me of that.

  30. #49

    Happy Birthday Aidan! I am sure you think it is weird that all these people that don’t really ‘know’ you are wishing you Happy 15th but a lot of us have watched you grow into the amazing person you are today through the wonderful words and pictures of your mother. So I hope you enjoy these messages in the way they are intended. Have a great one! Cheers or Cheese as my son would say, Jane, Sydney AUS

  31. #51

    Happy birthday, Aidan. You are about 9 months older than my older son, so when your mom posts about your birthday each year, I read it and start prepping myself for a whole new stage in his life.

    Cathy, I hear ya about not having them in the immediate vicinity in a few short years. Carpe diem!

  32. #52

    It’s posts like this that make me stop and enjoy the (good and not so good) moments I’m having with Mr 6 and Miss 4.

    When it feels like drag a to walk him all the way to his classroom holding his hand all the way rather than dropping him at the school gate and getting on with the day, or when it feels like a drag to give them ‘just one more’ kiss good night (because the previous 4 were not enough) or one more hug goodbye (ditto) when I really should be getting to work (or watching Desperate Housewives ;))…I try to remember that these days will not last and one day I will wish I could live them all over again.

    It’s posts like this Ms Cathy…thanks!

    And Happy Birthday Ms Aidan – the world is yours for the taking!

  33. #53
    Kristal Jones

    I love that you have a journal page for Aidan like this. Have you been keeping a journal for her for 15 years? I have journals for both of my girls that I started when I was pregnant. My oldest is 13 and my youngest is 10. These books are treasures for all of us. I should write in them more.

    Time passes way too quickly. Savor these moments. I know I don’t do it enough with my two.

    Happy Birthday to Aidan!

  34. #54

    Happy Birthday Aidan and Cathy too! We are celebrating here, too. My youngest is 14 today. It does happen in a flash, doesn’t it. My oldest just turned 18 and is trying to figure out where to go to college. Wishing that life had a a pause button. Cherish this day!

  35. #55

    As I go through old photos there sometimes is a feeling of melancholy. Reminiscing about times gone by can be emotional. I love the way you said that – I miss the people they used to be. That’s exactly how I feel.

  36. #56
    Sara-Jane Bunting

    Happy Birthday Aidan from your friends in New Zealand (better late than never) I think of you every time we go past that St Aidans church that we took your photo in front of when you visited our country!

  37. #59

    Just sitting here at my desk all teary from your lovely post.
    My Aiden (boy) turned 12 today and your words spoke very loudly to me. Yes we do miss who they were, enjoy who they are now and wonder who they will become. Life is a wonderful journey and I appreciate that there are people like you around to remind me to LIVE!
    Happy 15th Birthday Aidan.
    Jane and Aiden (in Australia)

  38. #60

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful baby girl! Time flies…I can’t believe my oldest “baby” is going to high school next year! Ahhhh!!!

  39. #61

    My baby girl will be thirty eight in a few weeks but your layout still brought tears to my eyes. I have found that the years gone by have not changed a thing, I still wish I could go back and have each and every day over again.I look at her beautiful face and wonder how did it go by so fast…. yes thirty eight years can go by too quickly also.Enjoy enjoy enjoy! Hugs to you both!Happy Birthday Aiden! 🙂

  40. #63
    Katie Pegher

    Great post Cathy. Makes me wanna go sniff my kids heads right now as they sleep. And not in a creepy way… but in a, “I know I’ll miss this sweet smell” just two doors down way. 🙂 Happy birthday one-five!

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