The post wherein you may require a tissue

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking90 Comments


This kid is breaking my heart.

Not because she's done anything other than be 100 percent fabulous and amazing on a daily basis. She's completely golden. The only time my heart starts to break is when I begin to imagine the day that she'll be bunking with college roommates, as opposed to me, Dan and Cole.

She started the 10th grade last week. The 10th frickin' grade! I decided to create a layout about this monumental shift in the elements along the same design lines as what I shared last week. This was supposed to be a layout that remarked about the maturity and the changes I've been seeing in my daughter; how she is taking so very many measured steps toward her burgeoning inependence.

But true to my self-absorbed form, it ended up being a little bit about me as well.

But the little bit about me is the part that wonders, and wonders often, have I been a good enough parent?

So with that, I share this page with you. If you have children around the same age or are premenstrual, you might like to have a Kleenex on hand.


JOURNALNG READS: So here we are, Aidan. It’s 2011, you’re 15 years old and starting your sophomore year of high school. Sophomore year of high school! Holy mother of pearl, where has the time gone?

I ask this question, not to simply be a mom cliché, but because this year is really hitting me squarely between the eyes: in two years, you’ll be off to college and you won’t be one of my three roommates anymore. (At least not until holiday breaks come around!) And as exciting as that might seem to you, the idea of college and being out there on your own, this countdown is a bit different on the mom side of things.

I’m writing this as a letter to you and I don’t want to fill it with regrets and what ifs. But it’s hard to not look back and wonder: did I do enough? did you know how proud I was of you? did I show you in some way every single day of your amazing, singular life how blessed and lucky I was and am to share this life with you?

All those years of being a frazzled mom are still clear in my memory. The mom who was far less easy going than the one you know today. The mom who was crabbier than most because I was always jonesing for time to get out to the garage and steal time for a smoke. The mom who didn’t understand than being louder than everyone else didn’t actually mean a victory.

That mom is part of our shared history, yet you seem to have emerged with more grace and wisdom that seems possible for one so young.

So here we are, Aidan. You are this remarkable creature of light and passion and gifts. So much is changing and yet you seem more assured in who you are every day. I remember asking you a while back about why you weren’t out there experimenting with things like drinking, or other things that girls at your age probably shouldn’t be doing, and you simply replied, “I’m not seeking, Mom. I know who I am.”

I think you’ve known who you were from such an early age. It just took some of the adults in your life—i.e. me—a while to catch on. And believe me, sister, you have no bigger fan on the court side of your life than me. (Okay, so maybe your Dad would give me a definite run for the money on that one!)

I love you, Sophomore Girl. Not a minute of this era will I take for granted. I am so thankful to be able to know who you are, every day. So very thankful indeed.


DIGITAL SUPPLIES: Layered Template No. 92 (Cathy Zielske) • Striped Mix: Sunshine Paper Pack (Katie Pertiet) both coming this weekend to the Designer Digitals store • Honey Script font

This template, and everything else in my collection, will be on sale as part of the Designer Digitals 3rd Quarter Sale, beginning this Thursday at 7 a.m. EST, and running through next Wednesday. Save 30% storewide except for gift certificates and licenses

Cathy ZielskeThe post wherein you may require a tissue

90 Comments on “The post wherein you may require a tissue”

  1. #1

    well, okay then. i’ll be reapplying my makeup now.

    i share your sentiments – our son, Adam, is a sophomore too, and just seeing Aidan’s expression in your layout, well, I know that look.

    and i know the heart strings that get pulled these days. it’s almost unbelievable that they’ll be heading out on their own in a couple short years…

    thanks for such a lovely reflection, cathy…

  2. #3
    Sherrie M.

    And here I thought I could resist the tears since my three daughters are only 5 and 7….of course not!! Beautiful Cathy.

  3. #4

    Such beautiful heart-felt journaling. Of course, it’s nothing compared to what you’ll be writing a couple of years from now. Trust me on this one. I have a senior in college and two seniors in high school this year!

  4. #5

    I know exactly how you feel. My oldest is a sophomore in college and my youngest is a high school sophomore. As hard as it is with my daughter gone (and it doesn’t get any easier the second year they’re away-I’ll never get used to seeing her empty bed), it will be all the more difficult when my son goes as he is the baby!

  5. #6
    Stephanie Howell

    Oh Cathy… This is beautiful. And I know that Harper will be there in a blink of an eye. Who she is? Is a testament to you and Dan. And your love and guidance. She shines.

  6. #7

    Ok, you should add “if you just sent one off to college” to your list of tissue requirers. Thanks for sharing this. So, I am wondering. When you make a page like this, do you share it right away with Aidan? I regret that I tend to put these pages straight into the book. I guess the kids will see them someday…

    Hope that you and Aidan have a wonderful year and that you enjoy every minute of it!


  7. #8
    Julie S

    Cathy, This layout is amazing and timely. Last Sunday was move-in day for our son’s first year at university. I’ve been feeling both ecstatic and weepy as he begins this phase of his journey. You’ve now motivated me to scrapbook it!

  8. #9

    As a mom who’s son has been away at college for 10 days now, let me tell you to SAVOR every minute of Aiden’s high school years. I let my son’s junior year slide by too quickly, thinking there was still plenty of time to spend with him. As his senior year began I was tearing up at the national anthem as it played for his ‘last’ first game of the football season and almost sobbing at the last out in the last baseball game, just a day before graduation. It goes by so fast.

  9. #10

    I don’t think there is one mother out there who doesn’t think they have done “enough” for their kids. It seems that you have a pretty well adjusted teen who “gets” it and I’m pretty sure that has a lot to do with you!

  10. #12

    If I may, I might actually print out your quote, “being louder than everyone else doesn’t mean victory”
    because I sure tend to think it does!
    Thanks always for your whit and humor on the big and little things in life.

  11. #13

    Love that line “I’m not seeking. I know who I am.” Therein lies the proof that you’ve done a great job.

  12. #14

    Not to get all math-teachery, but she’ll go to college in three years, right? You’ve got three more years with her at home. That’s a whole extra year–what you thought you had left plus half again more.
    Better right? Just trying to help.

  13. #15

    Beautiful page, Cathy. My two are both in college (sophomore and senior) and I still miss having them around. I don’t miss the laundry though!!

  14. #16
    Heather H.

    Beautiful post Cathy. My son is starting Kindergarten today and there will be tears all around! It’s so exciting to watch them grow but heart wrenching at the same time. And how amazing to have such knowledge about ones self at 15. That is a blessing for you and her.

  15. #18

    Sharing your feelings as well. Both of my daughters just moved into an apartment to be closer to their college and it all happened so fast I had no time to adjust! I thought I’d have them home for at least 2 more years then boom they were moving! Trying to adjust to this empty nest and it’s not easy.

  16. #20
    Ronnie Crowley

    Just perfect. I think she will treasure this letter as an adult when she reaches this point with her children (and maybe your not there to be with her to share). I wish I had something like this from my mum whose no longer here to guide me through such challenges. Off to replicate for my own sophomore.

  17. #21
    Lee Currie

    Gulp. Thanks for that. I’ve been avoiding writing my own letter to my girl in Grade 11 this year. You are blessed – and so is Aidan, have no doubt 🙂

  18. #22

    I’m reading this while eating breakfast, just minutes away from heading out the door with my oldest. We’ll be making the 9 hour trek down to his college today and I am really, really feeling the “did I do everything I could as a parent” emotions.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful journaling. And making me cry. Again. 🙂

  19. #24

    “I”m not seeking. I know who I am.” WOW! Apparently you have done a wonderful job of parenting if your 15 year old is able to say that. Go Aidan!

  20. #25
    Marina D-K

    Beautiful. I love the openness you have with you’re daughter and that you’re able to share it with us through scrapbooking. Thank you!

  21. #28

    What a lovely layout. We dropped off our oldest daughter for her sophomore year of college yesterday and I had similar thoughts on our ride home: should I have done more, less, differently? This drop-off was actually a little more bittersweet because she was so much more independent than last year. But our job as parents is to raise them to fly the nest so I took comfort in knowing that she seems to be ready. Thanks for sharing your heart~

  22. #30
    Courtney Walsh

    Omgosh. I can’t even look at the journaling because I KNOW I’ll be a blubbering mess. My daughter is ten and I know in a flash she’ll be in 10th grade. It’s just crazy. I love this layout, Cathy…and your beautiful girl will cherish it always!

  23. #31

    My “baby’ of 4 is also a sophomore and like Aiden very self confident. I left the Freshman at WSU a couple weeks ago and the hole in my heart is still there. I do have to admit though that it does get easier, a little. I don’t think about my 24 and 21 year olds EVERY minute now….just every other minute!
    None of us is perfect and none of us mother perfectly but I bet you mothered her ‘just right’ for her!!
    borrowing your idea by the way….thanks!

  24. #32
    Chris O.

    My oldest started college a few weeks ago.I look at this kid- in college now -and it blows me away. His starting college hit me somewhere that training wheels, first days of kindergarten and learner’s permits did not.

    They always say those little kid years will pass so quickly and when you’re neck deep in diapers and Blue’s Clues, you roll your eyes and wonder if the person saying it would press charges of you punched them in the neck– but then one day you realize that the time is passing at warp speed and you turn around and there is this young adult who looks back at you, who is as tall as you and who has their own ideas and things to do and you still see the child, you see the time, you see the memory and even though you are proud and excited, you make sure to take each day and hold a piece of that in your mind and heart because you know it’s going.
    It’s a wonderful and weird thing to have a child make those transitions, and your daughter is making them beautifully. So many have watched her grow up through your eyes and think you are doing a great job and she is an incredible kid.

  25. #34

    My baby started high school a couple of weeks ago. She is also a mature for her age, self-aware (only sometimes self-centered) young lady. She has overcome many obstacles (she’s severely hearing impaired since birth) to be the top of her class in school, play guitar in a rock band and lead plays in drama. Sometimes I think our children are successful in spite of our parenting mistakes. She makes me proud every single day. Her dad and I try to make sure she knows it, but it’s always nice to see a reminder. Thanks for that reminder!

  26. #36
    Jenny S

    Wow. Beautiful letter. If I ever got that from my mom, I’d be stoked. She’s lucky she has such a centered, honest mom.

  27. #37

    oh lord woman! I am not PMS but I do have a fourteen year old girl and OMG….tears, tears, tears…beautifully written!!

  28. #38

    I remember the day when my daughter was half-way through 9th grade and it hit me like a brick – that she was only going to be living in our house and calling it home for another 3 years!!! And I couldn’t believe it happened so fast!!!

    Your post reminded me of that day, the day when (at least in my mind) she started preparing to leave home rather than she would always be living at home!!

    Time’s change for sure!!!

    Good luck, and enjoy the next couple of years!!

  29. #39

    As the mother of a 7 year old daughter, I can say that I hope my girl knows herself as well in eight years as Aiden does. We’re already talking about peer pressure (although I’m not sure Gabi is old enough to really understand). A beautiful example of journaling from down deep in your soul, Cathy. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  30. #41
    Tammy M.

    My oldest being a Freshman this year, I can totally relate to your post…what happened to that little 5 year old who had a crush on his Kindergarten teacher?? Why do they have to grow up anyway Cathy?? Why?? Ok…putting the tissues away now. :,(

  31. #42

    My daughter started 7th grade a couple of weeks ago. Last week, after dropping her off, I realized that in 6 years, she’ll be in college. I was a basket case-boo hooed all the way to work. There are times when I really want her to grow up (like last night when I was helping her with her homework), but then moments like last week occur and I realize, she is growing up too darn fast.

  32. #44

    Yeah, Ive learned the hard way and with a wee bit of therapy, being louder isnt about victory at all. At least not the kind I want to have.

  33. #46
    rebecca keppel

    I should have listened and grabbed the tissues first. I am going through a very trying time with my 6yr old daughter and I catch myself saying things I know I am going to regret and not being easy going enough and just generally not enjoying this time when I know it is going to fly by so fast. Thanks for the reminder.

  34. #47

    I do think of that, how people have seen her grow up in bits and pieces, in books and scrap mags. Its a strange and wonderful thing, huh?

  35. #49

    I’ve been where you are now wondering those same things and still do…
    You resonated some profound things in this post for me to jot down and share in my own way, i.e., “All those years of being a frazzled mom are still clear in my memory. The mom who was far less easy going than the one you know today… The mom who didn’t understand than being louder than everyone else didn’t actually mean a victory.”
    I believe that there is a certain resilience that first- born children come with, as if God knows we are going to mess up on these cute little guinea pigs!! Luckily, they are packed with forgiveness and manage to come out stronger than we ever could have imagined! 🙂
    Between this post/LO about Aidan and the other one you did about Cole, I am feeling very inspired and, most of all, grateful to be a Mom! And grateful to you for sharing your life and stories so we can commiserate, cry, laugh together about life’s triumphs and mistakes.
    Thank you! And enjoy that girl…all 3 years you have left with her! 😉

  36. #50
    Laura A. in Oregon

    Oh my gosh, Cathy! Beautiful! Thank you for putting into words what we all think about! My oldest is a senior this year, and it is hitting me hard, as well. Jen’s comment above spoke to me as well. Thank you.
    Thank you. I need to write my son a letter!

  37. #51
    Janet C

    My oldest is in Tennessee her first week of college, while the rest of us miss her terribly here in California.
    I think I cried the whole plane ride home. But after the first week I have been feeling better. I know you will be proud and excited too, even though your stomach won’t mirror that at first.
    Your layout is beautiful, and emotes what all of us mothers feel at that mid high school time.
    Hang strong

  38. #53

    *sigh* Back to School season is the time of year that sends us mothers into a tizzy. My girlfriend was lamenting on facebook about sending her four-year old off to kindergarten while I quietly fretted about my 11-year old’s transition to middle school. I won’t mention your blog to her because this post would just send her off the deep end. ;P

  39. #55
    Jennifer O.

    As a Mom whose oldest child started college this year, I admire you so much for having the foresight to recognize the importance of taking in every minute of these next few years. I love the honesty and beauty of this layout. Its okay that its about you too … its about a relationship. Just lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  40. #56
    Sarah B

    My oldest just started first grade, and already I’m feeling some of this. I think most parents question if they’ve done enough when it comes to parenting. But if my daughter is like Aiden is at 15 I will be thrilled. “I’m not seeking Mom, I know who I am”. What an amazing girl. I hope I can encourage that kind of self assurance in my own children.

  41. #57
    Pamela K.

    Okay. You got me. I am both PMSing and have a son starting his sophomore year as of yesterday. Hand me the kleenex. I’m wondering if it’s at this age that moms get all sentimental because I have been acting the exact same way lately. Awesome layout. And I am very lucky too that my boy has a good head on his shoulders as well. Take care, Mom!

  42. #58
    Tammy B

    Beautiful, Cathy! My oldest is in grade 11 this year and my youngest is in grade 9. Time sure flies! I know that they probably won’t leave home when they graduate as we have many a great post-secondary school around here but thought of them getting older and leaving home is certainly scary!

  43. #59

    With tear filled eyes……absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing and allowing us to reflect as well!

  44. #63

    Yep this is a tissue kind of story. You have done an amazing job with her and it shows every time you share about her on your blog. I can’t believe how time flies either. My daughter just started 9th grade and I have started calling her FRESHMAN GIRL for a few weeks now. We but heads pretty daily, slammed doors, she wants to be in that big world now and not wait for anything, she loves high school. I too will miss seeing her face every morning at the table and giving her hugs good night, don’t think I’ll ever be ready for those college days. Thanks for sharing this and the layout is beautiful and her photos are too.

  45. #64

    Well, there was really no hope for me reading this post, as I have a child the same age AND I’m menopausal..
    Once again your words have inspired me, thank you x

  46. #66

    You could not have expressed it any better! While I have a 15 year old sophomore daughter at home, I also have a 19 year old sophomore daughter in college only 1 1/2 hours away. But I’m still an emotional wreck every time she leaves after a visit!! We are very very close and
    unfortunately I don’t have the same connection with
    my daughter at home-hoping it is just the trials and tribulations of being 15 and with maturity and age she and I will have that close connection by the time she is ready for college. Enjoy every moment with your daughter because in a blink of an eye, you will have just moved her into that college dorm as a freshman and wonder how those 18 years passed by so quickly!! From a faithful reader in Atlanta.

  47. #69
    Denise KC

    Sorry, I just have to ask — since your name is so uncommon– are you the Leora who went to Lanai Road Elementary School?

    Denise K

  48. #70
    tara pollard pakosta

    she has always been such a soul filled girl> I remember seeing her photos in magazines and thinking that back when she was around 8 years old! she’s an amazing girl and you should be very proud of her, as I can see that you are!!!

  49. #72

    You nailed my thoughts! They grow up so quickly and I will always ask myself if I have made the right choices and given her enough love. I am so glad to read that many others have similar feelings. Thanks for sharing!

  50. #73
    Audrey V

    oh yeah, kleenex required for sure! Thanks for sharing, I have a sophomore boy and I so need to write this for his book.

  51. #74
    lynne moore

    Oy! We (meaning ME)are going thru that here too. Only mine is a Junior with her first boyfriend and I am having a really hard time letting go of the idea she doesn’t want to spend time at home anymore. I was the mom who let the friends come over. And yes, how in the world did I raise a gilr who seems to know herself so well at age 16? I know I was over 30 before I felt like i actually understood me…. Congratz and thankz CZ

  52. #75

    truly beautifully written. so so honest and it really hit a cord with me :> ( a mum who occassionally checks the computer instead of ‘playing!:)

  53. #78
    Sue I.

    Son starting high school, granddaughter starting kindergarten, daughter waiting to give birth to second granddaughter any minute now…no, I cannot believe my babies are no longer babies…

  54. #80

    I have been following your blog for many years. I enjoy reading your posts and having a glimpse into your life, family, struggles and successes. I find your writing motivating and inspiring. You are humorous and unique. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest bit that Aidan said ” I am not seeking, mom. I know who I am.” All of these years the one thing I have noticed from your blog is how you always allow Aidan to be who she is. You’ve let Aidan’s true personality shine through. You’ve accepted and loved her without stifling her independence, creativity and uniqueness. You’ve showered her with praise, guided her and let her know that you have confidence in her. She is remarkable just like her mother.

  55. #82

    I feel very confused Cathy and everyone. I was unaware the ‘chat room’ was gone and for the past 20 minutes, have been attempting to ‘find where this chat’ was taking place (???) I’m sorry to say I’ve missed out on everything except one jpg. If anyone would be kind enough to fill me in, I would be ‘very grateful’. I really wanted to be involved Cathy. My deepest apologies 🙁

  56. #83
    Lisa Baker

    What happens is you end up having more and more moments like this while it all unfolds and it hurts and feels fantastic all at once. The pride that wells up is astonishing. I remember my oldest sons graduation from High School hit me that much. Not Kindergarten, not middle school but when he graduated. I found myself unable to speak. Or move. Or do anything. Then I realized my camera battery was dead (back in the day before my Nikon) and I cried a bit more because of that. I was to only preserve this one in my heart.

    I feel ya girl. I feel ya.

  57. #84

    So beautiful, Cathy… And your journaling about your daughter knowing who she was from an early age, takes me right back to another layout of yours – “Amazing, how do you do what you do”… 🙂

  58. #85

    I also have a daughter starting the 10th grade this year. I didn’t have the guts to read all your jounaling, I didn’t have any tissues on hand! I’m sure there were some mutual feelings!! great page!

  59. #90

    As always a heartfelt page as only you could do. Love ya!

    But man, can I relate to the sadness and the hopes that they know how much we love them and how proud we are. Miles is a sophomore too and I’m keenly aware that time is ticking and want to make sure I get it all in. Enjoy every moment, tell him I love him, hug him, tell him how fabulous he is even when the rest of the world doesn’t see it.

    You have definitely inspired me to get this down in my scrapbooks. (I’ve been missing some good moments lately.)

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