It’s things like this

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking74 Comments

Yesterday, I was talking to Cole about the upcoming start of school (he tackles the 6th grade this year) and I was asking him how much he remembered about his very first day of school.

Turns out, very little. So I started to tell him one of the sweetest stories I remember from that momentous occasion, and I realized that the only reason I really remembered it is because I wrote it out in complete detail on a scrapbook page.

I hadn't even thought of this memory for years, and yet it was right there, ready to be recalled as I shared the story with Cole.

Of course, this led to pulling out the page itself and ending up in a big old hot mess of tears as I'd forgotten the other part of the story: the regret I felt for all the times I distracted my one and only baby boy so I could send one more email, or get one more page designed, or check one more thing off of my to-do list.

Memory, love, regret and truth. That's the stuff of my life I want to remember. All sweet, and some bitter.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go replenish the Kleenex supply.

Here's to stories we remember.


(Click on layout to see it larger. From my book, Clean & Simple Scrapbooking: The Sequel.)

JOURNALING READS: Since the day you arrived, I've let you go at your own pace. No charts or measurements or new word counts. No concerns about when you should be doing this, or that. I quit my job to enjoy being your mother. There were no rules, and no limits. Just you—glorious you—and time.

So why is it, that on the eve of the start of Kindergarten, I'm feeling like somewere along the way, I broke my end of the deal? Somewhere between scrapbooking and finding a new career direction, did I distract you one too many times with the T.V., or a new toy, or your box of Legos? Did I have to send one more e-mail, scrap one more assigned page, or meet one more deadline?

On more than one occasion during the past year, I've said how cool it's going to be when you are in school as an all-day friend. Oh, the work I'll get done! No more late nights and weekends. I can focus on being a mom the minute you walk in the door. I can't help but feel like that focus should've never shifted. Not from the minute your precious, irreplaceable soul landed on this earth. And I can't go back.

Tonight, your tears came fast and furious when I tucked you in. You didn't want to go tomorrow. The day would be too long. You didn't want to go to music class. You wouldn't be able to finish your lunch before the bell rang, so I shouldn't pack you more than three things to eat. And as I tried to comfort you, and Aidan was offering her support as well, it just came out, in one soulful, sob-choked burst: "I'm going to miss my Mom."

It was like an arrow to the heart. And I couldn't hide it from you. In all my imaginings, I never, ever thought I would hear that from the little boy who's been pushing the limits all summer long. Who's fought every bath. Who's been doing things his own way. Who's been asserting his growing independence.

I never stopped to think about the fact that he was going to miss me.

I wish I could bring back every peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and read you more stories, and play catch and baseball, and go for bike rides and all that stuff that is what becomes memory in a six-year-old mind.

I hope you know, Coley, how much I love you.

How I hope. How I hope.

I'm going to miss my son.



Cathy ZielskeIt’s things like this

74 Comments on “It’s things like this”

  1. #1

    Aww, Cathy. You got me good. My littlest went off to Kindergarten last week, and he tells me every morning as he climbs on the bus, “I’ll miss you.” it makes me a little bit happy and a little bit sad. It’s only half a day, and he’s my third, so I know the drill now.I, too, wish to turn the clock back. But something about that sweet little boy face…sigh. Both of my boys do the “I miss you.” Not so much the girl. My 8 yr old started 3rd grade, and with his Autism, school is a struggle sometimes, so his tears the day before school started got me good, too. He used to have such a hard time expressing his feelings, but now it’s almost harder to hear him talk about his fears. But everyone’s been doing great, just as I knew they would in my heart. But it still stings a little. Sniff.

  2. #4

    Oh! This was not the morning to start crying! I have to be at a wives’ brunch in 45 minutes! Now I’m a blubbering mess. I sent my “little man” off to 8th grade yesterday. What kills me the most about sending him off this year is the fact that I remember 8th grade. I mean, REALLY remember it. And to have my own child now old enough to be in a grade that I remember is just killing me. Talk about tears and depression. Ugh. The funny thing was, as he ran for the bus yesterday morning, I yelled out, “Have a great day at 1st grade”. Yup, totaly meant to say, “Have a great first day in 8th grade” and it didn’t come out that way. I think that slip of the tounge speaks volumes. I’m really lucky this year — I won’t be working this year and I’m really anxious to be very “present” in his life — his last year before high school. But the regrets. OH the regrets. I have many. And they are tough to overcome. All the things I wish I had done. All the extra time I wish I’d spent with him. Time to remind myself to get off FB and be really present in his life this year. Thanks for sharing. It’t so comforting to know I’m not the only one.

  3. #5

    Well, darn it, that was a bit hard to read this morning as I send my baby off to his first day of kindergarten (and get ready to drive my oldest down to his new dorm and first day of college next week.) My little guy drew me a page full of hearts so I could “remember him all day” when he is gone to school.

  4. #6

    You gave every mom something to think about and look at in their own lives. So glad you documented and shared your feelings. I need to re-start doing the same, especially as my kids are growing right before my very eyes! Thank you!

  5. #7

    oh, how i am here with you. only because my oldest just went to college. my heart is dying a little. now i need to go make a page similar to this for all 3 of my girls!
    thank you for sharing such a heartfelt story!!

  6. #8
    Nisa Fiin

    this needs to come with a warning to just not read it at all if you are 31 weeks pregnant please. Gorgeous story. I’m a wreck. Thanks lady friend… now I have to go blot the tears off my peanut butter toast.

  7. #9

    “Memory, love, regret and truth. That’s the stuff of my life I want to remember. All sweet, and some bitter.” Yep…sigh….nuff said.

  8. #10
    Heather M

    Oh, Cathy. You made me cry! I’m sending my baby to preschool (2 hours twice a week) this fall and my heart’s already breaking a bit at the thought. Thanks for the gentle nudge to remember these (and all) days with him. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to walk away from my computer and focus on my sweet little boy.

  9. #11
    Vicki J

    Cathy I remember when my youngest was getting ready to go to kindergarten us Moms planned a “party” for when the bus left. And looking back I feel the same way did I do enough. But just this weekend I was cleaning out a drawer in our now guest bedroom–formally my dd bedroom and found an envelope addressed MOM–it was dated August 17, 2005. Yup days before my dd went to her 2nd year of college. And the letter started out saying ” I know you would eventually snoop in here” (lol) and then went on to tell me how much she loved me and appreciated all the parenting my dh and I had done. WOW–talk about tears!! so in the end I guess I must have done something right???
    As parents do we ever meet our own expectations? Thanks for sharing your story–because its good to know I am not the only one with momma guilt.

  10. #12

    Mine started 6th grade last week. It’s a whole new world for her and for me as a mom. Thanks for sharing your story. It pierced right through this heart.

  11. #13

    Wow, that hit me hard, awesome journaling + pms = blubbering. My girl starts full day preschool next week and I have been counting down the days. Thanks for the reminder to chill and enjoy every last second with her.

  12. #14
    Melanie L.

    Sniff, sniff. My youngest just started PreK. Thanks for the reminder that I need to remember this time and enjoy it while I can. They grow up way too fast.

  13. #15

    Oh man…you got me on this one. Sniff. My boy started 6th grade yesterday so my own feelings of excitement and dread at close to the surface, making this post especially real. Thanks for sharing.

  14. #18

    Oh my!! I have fallen off the scrapbooking wagon & justified that I don’t have enough time or the room’s a mess or whatever, but if I don’t do it, I won’t remember!!! When my youngest went off to kindergarten, I copied someone’s SB page & wrote, “Will you still…?” and then wrote all the cute little Jared-isms that he was doing at the moment. So sweet & so different from 4th grade Jared. Thank you for the SB boost!

  15. #23

    oh my God. Im sorry… but now I am sitting here in tears reading that. Wow. Okay. Must blow nose. Thank you for sharing this.

  16. #25
    Katie Pegher

    Cath – this is hands down my favorite layout from both of your books. And that’s sayin something. The exquisite photo combined with that heartfelt journaling. It’s a reminder to us all. I’m in the throws of being overwhelmed being a “work from home photographer” with a 3 year old and a 9 month old. I’m totally and utterly AWARE of the guilt and regret I’ll no doubt feel when they are off to school in just a few short years and I’ll have my days to myself. What to do? I have deadlines to meet for clients. UGH – such a washing machine of emotion. When I read this awesome reminder – I just wanna quit quit quit my “career” and do it after they’ve started school. These years are short… the school years – well – there’s just so many more of them… Worst of all – I just haven’t carved out time to SB much in the last year. It’s such a guilty pleasure for me – one that gets POSTPONED and put off and that just SUCKS!!!!

  17. #26

    My baby boy is in Iraq. He is 23 so he isn’t a ‘baby’ anymore, but he is still my baby. He told me the sweetest thing before he left. He said “Thanks for being the greatest parent ever! I wouldn’t have wanted anything any other way.” That meant so much to me. I struggled with a lot of things being a single parent, like never having any money and raising two kids on my own. (Their dad lived 1,000 miles away.) I remember when he went to school the first day as a senior. I cried. I thought, man, where did the time go? Great post today, Cathy!

  18. #27

    Your journaling really got me and made me all teary-eyed. It is just perfect and such a good reminder to stop and remember what is important. It is so easy to caught up in everything that needs to be done and you have reminded me to stop and just enjoy my little boy while I can.

  19. #28
    karen young

    You made me cry too. My little guy started 6th grade last week and while I’m loving watching him grow and develop, I’m also feeling all that you’ve said. He’s been kissing me a lot lately too. Maybe he’s feeling some too… My daughter is a senior this year and I’m already dreading this time next year when she’s off to college. I’m going to be a mess. It’s tough being a mom.

  20. #29

    Oh god. Huge crocodile tears pouring from my eyes right now, as I sit with my four-year-old next to me. I have one more year before she goes to school. And I find myself dreaming of the day and how much I will finally be able to get done without the guilt of saying, “Can you put on Dora on Netflix, so I can finish editing these images?” Your post is big smack of reality. I also have only one more year to feel her little toes tucking under my tight for warmth while we watch Hansel and Gretel. One more year to rock her day with endless games of Old Maid. One more year to remain her favorite playmate…one more year to get it right.

  21. #30
    C. Rayevich

    wow, trying not to cry!!! this did prompt me to document( by that i mean journal more on my scrap pages) for my daughter as she gets ready to jump into 2nd grd. thank u cathy =)

  22. #33
    Kelly L

    Wow, this really hit home. I’m sending my baby off to Kindergarten next week, and I too feel so guilty for distracting him and his baby brother with TV shows, Legos, etc. while I try to get my work done. I work from home, and the balance and freedom that I imagined it would bring me has not been easy to find. As my 5 year old prepares for this big adventure, I can’t help but be wracked with guilt and what-if’s. The catch-22 of parenting. We have to remind ourselves as parents to be easier on ourselves — we’re doing the best we can! But I’ll still be a crying, hormonal mess come next week…

  23. #34

    Aahh Geez. Now I’m crying too. So sweet! I have a 2nd grader, a Pre-K and a 2-year-old. A good reminder. Thanks, Cathy!

  24. #35

    I love the line…”I quite my job to enjoy being your mother”
    What a wonderful statement, it truly made me smile as I
    have done the same….

  25. #36
    Lisa Damrosch

    Shit…now I want to go stalk my third grader on recess, instead of drink coffee and work. Waah.

  26. #37

    Beautiful words. Just like life- sweet and messy. Since just starting my blog over 2 months ago, I know I have brushed my little one aside to play blocks or playdoh- ouch. Thanks for the reminder that while jobs and blogging and deadlines are important, not as important as that time with our squirts. Thanks for the reminder. Time to close my computer and go put some puzzles together with Sam. Blessings.

  27. #39

    Sniff. Now my little boy watches his own little boy start his Junior year of hs. I know he knows and that makes all the sighs and regrets (which we all have) a little easier. But sometimes it’s still hard to let go …of a 44 yr old …when he kisses me goodbye and goes home. His today home.

  28. #41
    Debbie Rosenkranz

    Oh my God….my one and only started Kindergarten this year and it was so darn hard and I swear he is already forgetting his mama. At least thats kinda what it feels like. What a special memory, Im gonna have to dig out those books and get some of my own memories down in the books like this.

    Right now though…off seeking a box of tissues!

  29. #42

    My daughter started 7th grade last week. Just this morning I was thinking, “I only have 6 more years with her. Then she will be 18 and go off to college and our relationship will change. In six years, I’ll no longer see her every day. In six years, I won’t be reminding her, every day, to brush her hair. In six years, I won’t be asking her if she remembered to eat breakfast and if she packed a snack.” I was a blubberly mess as I drove to work. Of course, I reminded myself that my daughter says she will never leave home to go to college, that she is going to always live at home, adopt three daughters, have lots of pets, and I will take care of everything. Maybe I’m beginning to agree with her that her plan sounds like a good one!

    Thanks for sharing.

  30. #43

    Cathy, funny you should bring this up now, because I was just looking through your book yesterday, and stopped by this very layout. It is so very touching, and a reminder to embrace the sweet things of childhood while your babies are small. Thank you for being this reminder. xx

  31. #44

    Oh, goodness, Cathy. I am, like all of the others here, standing at the computer with tears running down my face… Our eldest, Adam, is starting his sophomore year in high school. He had a good freshman year, but it was filled with some rebellion and pushback from a boy who has been the poster child for complacency.

    Over the past 3 months, he’s come back into his own… he’s settled more into the ebb and flow of teenage life… he’s found his true smile again… you know, the one he flashes when you catch his eye as he gets out of the car after driving, or as he waves on his way to the bus, or as he crashes on the couch at the end of the day and a nice long shower…

    He’ll be moving on in just 3 short years, and his sister will be, too, just a couple years after that.

    This posting has done something to me. It’s inspired me to stop making excuses for why I don’t have their scrapbooks started and going. It’s hit me square in the face that the books, journaling, reflections don’t need to be perfect. They just need to be captured and pulled together in a book / format so that we can look back on them… and laugh… and share perspectives… and prove that we are indeed, a family filled with love and life.

    The craft room in the basement has been a catch-all crap catcher for the past months. No more.

    I mean it.

  32. #46
    Martha S.

    Cathy, what a sweet story! Stories like this make me happy and proud at how much I toil over my son’s scrapbooks… and I’m happy that yesterday after school, when my kiddo brought one of his friends home to play, I played on the Wii with them for a couple of hours. I need to do that more often and leave the “one more email, one more SB page” attitude checked at the door.

  33. #48

    No fair, there should be a tear jerker warning on the heading of this post! Reading your beautiful post and all the wonderful comments, I am a total wreck right now. My daughter starts 6th grade on Thurs. and my son starts 3rd grade. I am super emotional right now anyway because we will be moving out of the country in a few months and our lives will have lots of uncertainty and change. I just want to wrap by arms around my kids and hug and protect them forever! This growing up thing is MUCH harder on the Moms than the kids. Off to wipe my mascara off that is dripping down my face.

  34. #49

    Dearest Cathy
    Someday i will remember not to read your journaling at work… long weekend, last CE, flew my son in to play in the golf tournament, he is now 22 and living in Baltimore… so far away and i want to just copy and past that journaling into an email and send it to him… oh my goodness the time goes by so fast!! On a random side note… loved seeing that chatterbox paper, brought back a ton of memories of my early days 🙂 Thanks for the tears, and a smile

  35. #50

    Oh my – the memory, love, regret and truth. Why do the years fly when they start school? I’ve got two in college and one who graduated in August. My daughter is going into the Army as a new 2LT and will be moving to Korea after Christmas. This is a whole new letting go – she still texts some nights just to have me say good night sweetheart, and I don’t know if we can keep in such close touch that far away. If I can stop crying, I need to go journal.

  36. #52

    Beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes. My baby boy turns 30 this holiday weekend with a family of his own now. Where did the time go………

  37. #53

    No fair, twin … you’re not supposed to make me cry at work! My little man isn’t in school yet, but I cry at least once a week as I head to the office knowing what I’m missing, and I’m sure some serious blubbering awaits his school days. In the ongoing battle of “do I quit my job and stay home with him until he goes to school or do I try to work at least part time” you’ve just put a couple of points in the quit column. And in the “keep a scrapbook” column. Thanks for both!

  38. #54
    Jennie Hart

    Good grief, this made me cry. I look at my 6 year old and think what am I doing right, what am I doing wrong?

    Cole seems fab now though doesn’t he!

  39. #55

    awww this is so sweet. now I’m crying too and wishing to turn the clock back. thanks for reminding us moms to hold on to our babies and treasure the time we have with them. thanks cathy for sharing, love this.

  40. #56

    Wonderful journaling…….it’s the way it is. Thank you….my son is 26 now…and some days I so long for one more pb&j, one more box of mac n cheese, one more Dr. Suess nighttime story… more of anything from his sweet young boy years…..

  41. #58

    Oh boy…..after a messy day as a working mum this really hits home. However, I wont sit here sniffling (although I want to), I will go and hug my little girls a bit tighter than normal, and play with them instead of hoping the TV will provide just 5 minutes more entertainment (just one more email)…..
    Most of all I will stop procrastinating, and start writing down all those funny, silly and beautiful things they say so I can share with them just as you have done. Thank you Cathy.

  42. #59

    Oh man, thats so hard! For our family, when Cole was born, I was basically working (or would have been working) to pay our day care costs, and really, not much else. It was a hard decision financially, but… so, so worth it in the end. : )

  43. #60
    Design Editor

    Major boohoo. I’m in the crazy, wonderful world of working moms as well. Always nice to know that there are so many of us trying to balance that push and pull. Thanks for sharing!

  44. #61

    Oh, this made me go to the ugly cry. I went right home and hugged my kids. thank you for sharing, what a beautiful memory to have. XOXO.

  45. #63

    I TOTALLY agree! As my youngest just started all-day kindergarden, I need to remember to stop working when they get home and be present 100% for them (while they still want me!). Unfinished work can wait until tomorrow or after bedtime. They do grow up so fast! As it is so often said, the days are long, but the years are short. Thanks for the reminder! Now off to journal about the start of this school year…

  46. #64

    I have to agree with you… awesome journalling and pms does equal blubbering… it’s just one more reason I don’t want to send my young man back to grade five next week… I just want him to be “safe” with me… even though I know he needs to grow up!

  47. #65
    Beth R.

    I am sitting here in an empty house with 2 dogs. My only child is now 25 and living in her own place with the daily roomate drama. Talk about tears, between your amazing writing and my own regrets / divorced mom guilt, I am a mess right now. There are years I was working 3 jobs and going to school, just to pay to live in a mobile home, a nice mobile home but it was not the 5 bedroom ( with plans to fill them all) home she was born into. All that time is such a blur and now she’s grown & moved on.
    Be thankful you were a scrapper then so you CAN remember, I was late to the game and she was already a sophmore in h.s. when I started. I have wished a hundred times that I had written it all down, because the sweet day to day memories do fade away.
    Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt testimony of love, your writing is a gift and I am grateful.

  48. #66

    Beth, I just want you to know that I admire you. Single parenting must be one of the most challenging things to face. Thank you for posting today.

  49. #67
    Deb Rymer

    Cathy, this is my very favorite page of yours – and I have loved it since the day I first saw it in your book many years ago. The first time, it made my heart catch in my throat, and brought tears to my eyes. The second time, it made my heart catch in my throat and brought tears to my eyes…And so it is, EVERYtime I read this story, I am moved beyond words.

    This has served as the “golden standard” in my world for what good scrapbooking is all about. If I can touch the heart of the story (as you surely did here) – then I have done something right.

    Thanks so much for sharing this story, this example, this heart.

  50. #68

    I hear you – my baby turns 13 on the 9th and it seems like yesterday he was born. One day he was a cuddly baby and then I turn around and he is looking me in the eye – fortunately for me, he still likes a cuddle!

  51. #69
    gypsy chaos

    Maybe you could change your language and see if that changes how you act.

    You say scrapbooking is a guilty pleasure. Is it? Sure it’s time alone. Sure it’s fun. Sure it allows you time for personal creativity.
    BUT it also allows you to pass down the day to day stories. I would love to see photos and read stories about my grandmothers’ and mother’s and father’s ‘oh so dull when lived in the moment’ lives.

    So may I suggest that you say scrapbooking is an essential part of your role as family historian? And see if you find yourself carving out time for recording your history.

  52. #71
    Fun Mama - Deanna

    Um, thanks for that? lol My daughter doesn’t start Kindy till next fall, but I’m already crying and missing her and wondering if I’ve done enough. Is it even possible to be there enough during those first years?

  53. #73
    Heather H.

    Cathy…thank you for posting this. I feel much of the same things. My son (only child) is starting Kindergarten on Tuesday. I’m excited and sad and filled with regret all at the same time. I think we always wonder as mamas what else we could have done or what we should have done differently. Rarely do we acknowledge that at the time we did what we could and what we thought we had to do. The truth is that they grow so fast and the time slips away before we know it but it’s always our job to raise them to be the best people they can be.

  54. #74

    Cathy, I remembered the LO but not the story. As a very busy mom, I can relate. I rarely play with my kids, I’m happy I did it this afternoon.
    First day of school tomorrow for my littlest, but he’s only 34 months old (In France, children begin going to school the year they get 3).
    thanks for sharing.

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