Toward the end of Aidan’s senior year, I was very conscious of expressing my gratitude to her for letting me share so many stories about her over the years. I’ve tried to respect how much to share, especially as she started to navigate that tricky space called adolescence. Over the summer I asked her if she’d ever consider sharing her perspective of what it was like to grow up with a scrapbooking mom who made her living online and part of that living directly revolved around telling stories about the lives of her children. She agreed but in the course of getting ready to go to college, we both forgot about it. She texted me over the weekend and said, “Hey, I have a surprise for you. Oh, and it might make you cry.” Turns out she did write out some thoughts and those thoughts I share with you today. Thank you, Aidan Isabella. You are truly something else. Take it away…
I hesitate to say I grew up in the spotlight. I’m not the child of a celebrity. I am not named after a fruit or an inanimate object and I had as much privacy as I ever thought was normal for a child. Growing up, it was never at the forefront of my mind that my life helped my mom’s career. Of course my life had and has a lot of different functions and intricacies, but my existence was and is intertwined with the existence of my scrapbooking mother and her brand. Truthfully, I am only ever reminded of this in sarcastic moments where my stubborn brother and I are goaded into smiling for a photo because it “keeps the food on the table.” Otherwise, it is my normal.
My mom is really into being honest and raw with you all. She opens herself up to a lot of things and sometimes what comes in hurts. She has not, however, done the same for me and that is something I respect. While she may share the nitty gritty of her own life, she doesn’t share the nitty gritty of mine. Sure, sometimes my life looks like stock photography. Sometimes my life looks like a Pinterest board. Sometimes I look at the photos and think that on the surface it’s a damn pretty picture. The truth is that sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. My life is complicated. Whose isn’t? There have been times where I’ve gotten angry about a certain photo she’s posted on Instagram because I don’t like the way I look or where I refused to smile for a picture because smiling’s not cool; it’s cool to widen your eyes and suck in your cheeks slightly to look angular and intense.
My life in the lens of my mother’s career hasn’t been all that strange. Occasionally it’s funny to think that there are people rooting for me that I’ve never met. It’s funny that sometimes people recognize me in various places and say they feel like they know me, because for all intents and purposes, they do from reading about my personality through the words my mother writes. My mom is Cathy Zielske (though I don’t call her that). She’s not CZ Design. She’s never been her career and growing up with my life on her blog has rarely been a misfortune.
This world has brought me some great things. There are people in this world who I admire for their kindness and their creativity and people who I wouldn’t be staring at through my computer screen if it weren’t for my Mom and her friendships and professional relationships with them. There are places I never would’ve imagined going if it weren’t for my mom teaching classes.
She shares a lot but she also keeps a lot to herself, and she understands when it’s time to let up a little.
Thanks, baby girl. You’re something else.