When it’s not your story to tell

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life98 Comments


A weird thing is happening to me as I near my 49th year of life and I’m guessing there are some people who read this blog who just might be able to relate. No, I’m not talking about missing menstrual cycles, hot flashes and the inability to string more than a few hours of sleep together on any given night, I’m talking about wanting to write about my life but realizing just how many stories are not mine to tell.

It’s different when your family is younger. There is a general consensus that telling stories of what you do and where you go and who you are is a little easier when you are an editor with a younger tribe. And yet what is life if not the stories of every day, whether they are joyous or sad, simple or complicated, yours or mine?

Ah life! It’s a glorious series of stories linked together on a chain marked by days, hours, minutes and seconds. It’s a narrative of flesh and blood and time and experience. But as this family gets older, the narrative is shifting because I’m not the sole keeper of the stories. The single story perspective has to change.

I can tell you about me. I can tell you about Dan. I can tell you about therapy’s highs and lows. I can tell you about ultimate frisbee and paying for college tuition. I can write about struggling to pick safe topics about which to write. But as my children become not children anymore, their respective narratives require me to honor their privacy as they figure out who they are and who they want to be.

Write about what you know. That is a guiding principle for writing that has never failed me. When I write about what I know, the words just flow.

But right now, there I things I know or think I know, that are not mine to tell.

That’s a weird place for a professional memory keeper,  you know? It’s actually a really hard place to be for me, creatively, professionally and personally.

I wonder if this is why I’ve been dipping into older layouts for my Make a Page Monday series. I know there are stories that are much safer to share. Stories that don’t require the same level of respect and intimacy and care. Because new pages, if they were truthful pages, would hold stories of sadness, disappointments and struggles. And though I play a part in those stories, it doesn’t green light me to write about them here.

Because surprise, not everything is about me.

Write about what you know. I’m trying but right now what I know is that my family is a work in progress and my job is to protect certain stories.

It doesn’t mean I can’t find other stories to tell. It just means I need to dig a little deeper.

Or not. Maybe I’m really overdue for a long post about hot flashes.

Cathy ZielskeWhen it’s not your story to tell

98 Comments on “When it’s not your story to tell”

  1. #1
    Linda Matthews


    I totally understand. I am 48. Our son is 17 years old… Senior this year. It is so hard to not talk about him. Giving the privacy that he wants.

    A hard price for us scrapbookers that want to share every story. To preserve the memories…

    Hang in there. We know how you feel.



  2. #2

    Oh hellooooooooooo!
    Your child does not have to be a teen! We have a nine year old who has made it very clear that there are stories we can share aka my 50th…and those we can’t like being student of the week (oh puhlllllleeeaaaaaaase!)
    You know it is hard – I want to share it all…but…it is not mine to share.
    hate that.
    maybe I should share … not being able to share!

  3. #3

    My son is just 8 (and has autism) and likes appearing on my blog … for now. Don’t want to think about the time when he declares a blog embargo on all things related to The Boy Child.
    Perhaps Aidan and Cole could suggest one story concerning them per month that they feel is suitable for global sharing? Perhaps Aidan would be willing to write a few more posts for you, given that she did brilliantly sharing her thoughts about college last year?
    Just a thought.

  4. #4
    Natalie Turetsky

    …just spit my coffee out at the end of this one (from laughter). Bad timing on that sip! So well written – as always. You are an amazing writer and an amazing mind. Your words give me so much to think about and insight into what lays ahead on this road of parenting. And I so appreciate and need that.

  5. #5

    I came to scrapbooking late; I’m 70. I subscribe to so many scrapbooking Feeds for inspiration that it’s a good thing I’m retired! I have wondered how the Project Lifers will respond when their children, who’ve been scrapbooked within an inch of their lives, reach the age your kids are–and stories don’t belong to the scrapbooker any more. I will be so interested to see how you move into this life stage, Cathy, because that is what you have reached; scrapbooking is simply the mirror. It IS all about you because as Aiden and Cole’s lives change, so does yours and it’s your livelihood. We are all left with who we are. I suspect you will bring the same honesty and flair to this as you have to your kids’ Wonder Years. We’ll wait with you as you find your way, And, if all else fails, hot flashes during a hot summer are a great fall back.

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yes, Janet, I suppose it’s simply a matter of shifting how I tell stories, and moving myself to the forefront. But it’s funny, maybe it’s just after too much therapy and learning what a self absorbed person I’ve been for my entire life that I actually want to move away from that.


      1. #5.1.1

        Oh Cathy, I hope I didn’t sound as though this is simple. Or that “it is about you” means self-absorption. It is d*** hard. By the number of replies, you have struck a real chord.

        1. #
          Cathy Zielske

          Oh, no! not at all…. and when I talk about self absorption, I’m serious. I’ve learned a lot about it from working with my therapist. 🙂 Part of what I’ve been doing the past four years is looking at my inadequacies and trying to understand them and make changes. But yes, I’m surprised at the number of replies today. And grateful for the dialogue.

  6. #6
    Natalie Turetsky

    Question, do you think if you didn’t share your pages publicly you would still feel the same way? Because after all aren’t these scrapbooks for us and our families to record our lives? In which case you could treat it like your family journal and only tell memories from your perspective. You don’t have to get into the specifics. For example “so and so is going thru a tough time right now with such and such. It’s hard to watch her struggle but we are happy that we can be there to support her thru it” etc etc…no details necessary.

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      That’s a really great question, Natalie. Because I don’t want to fill our private books with painful details, and yet, they are for our private viewing.

      I think the public aspect is part of it, definitely. I don’t like making pages just to make pages, and right now, many stories are not for the public. As we are struggling in places.

      Such is life, this amazing thing.

      1. #6.1.1
        Katie Jones

        Ah, but sometimes the painful details are actually the ones you want to read. Sounds odd, but once you are through them, you can look back and see how d*** tough things were, and yet you got through it. And thrived and were stronger because of it. I switched university halfway through my course, similar to Aiden, and it was tough. But I did better and got better grades because of it, and I’m so glad that things happened as they did. Even though for a few years after graduation it felt kind of awkward to explain (I failed my maths module and the retake and had no option but to switch course). Now, 12 years down the line, no-one cares in the slightest! I’m still a great engineer 🙂
        I’m also glad for the challenges we had when our twins were born at just 26 weeks gestation – it was incredibly tough at the time, but our experiences helped friends of ours going through a similar thing a bit later on, and it really shows me how strong I can be when I need to be. Though I hope that challenges like that one don’t come along too often!
        You’re amazing, Cathy, and I bet you will find just the right way to record these stories for future pick-me-ups and “keeping it real” now. you are a master at that 🙂

  7. #7
    Joanna Henriksen Bjerga

    I hear you. Big time. But thank you for being such a good example. Hang in there. I’ll still keep reading your blog, even if I miss hearing more about the kids.
    There was actually a big debate in the media in Norway last year about how we are bombarded with good advice and sharing of stories about younger children, but the voices grow fewer and further apart when it comes to older children. Some indeed wanted parents of older children to be more open about the struggles and joys of parenting older children and teens, thinking that it could be beneficial and encouraging to know that other parents struggle with the same issues. But at the same time, just like you say: It’s not always our story to tell. I guess balance is the key. You can share your journey as their mother, and still respect their privacy . I think you are already doing a great job of that. Thank you!

  8. #8
    Jennifer Henson

    I totally sympathize. My blog has become much lighter as I have less stories about my kids (who are now 20 and 16) and my running is on hiatus… Thank you for letting us acknowledge that and move forward…

  9. #9

    Yep, I’ve been in this stage for several years. Its hard to navigate what to scrapbook and write about and what should be left out. Being the mom of a college student,(one year left) trying to figure out the empty nest at home, I just document “project life style” but not weekly just as things happen, so I might only have one or two pages per month and I’m ok with that.
    I document general college things like the cost of tuition and books, the place he lives and his roommates, general things he does but nothing to detailed. My life has changed, my scrapbooks have changed, my child is an adult, we are empty nesters my husband and I (ages 49 & 46) we are still young and still have stories to tell. Its different now but its ok.

    I do wish there was more info out there and inspiration for those of us without younger kids. I understand exactly what your post stated today and I look forward to seeing how you will navigate this stage of your life. You can be the first or among the first to inspire those of us in this same stage of life because this stage of life is important to.

  10. #10

    I am right there too.I have a 23 year old son ,I can’t share anything with out his okay.Thank you for sharing and inspiring others in this journey.

  11. #11
    Musings, Rants & Scribbles

    The greatest challenge of essayists/memoirists is telling “other people’s stories” as you aptly put it. That’s why a lot of writers use a fictionalized form but even that can get tricky since everyone reads themselves into everything. If I write about my parents, I always get their permission even if its loving. You never know what can stick in people’s craw. Some people advise writing the first draft, warts and all, and then getting permission from people and/or taking out the tricky parts.

  12. #12
    Jenny B.

    I have just started to deal with this a little bit. My oldest is ten and has had a first crush and some other issues that I want to document and remember. To me, these are things that I should definitely record in a journal, and maybe document a little bit in the scrapbook, but not share online at all. I can imagine that with your business being scrapbooking, it is a big challenge. I am thankful for what you do share, though, because it helps me think about what I may face as a mom in the future, and that is helpful and encouraging. 🙂

  13. #13

    Janet’s post struck a cord with me. An interesting topic I’ve been wondering about is possible setting up a loose scrapbook for the child to fill in. I wish I had those entities from my high school and college and post college travel days. Maybe it would be a concert ticket holder or new song menagerie for Cole. Maybe it’s a “best places to study” compendium for Aiden. I’m grasping at straws, but you get the idea. Some system you set up and the kids add to – their mirror to look into later to see how far they have come.
    As an example, I’ve given zentangle art supplies to my engineering student neice and I’m asking her to send me a drawing a month to keep for her so they don’t all go into the trash with the calculus notes. My intention is to scan them to make a
    calendar and note card set for her to gift her parents and grandparents for Christmas. I feel like it’s my job to make sure the other side of her story gets told and I know she will love it, as soon as she gets over the shock of someone oogling over her art talent.

    1. #13.1
      Gypsy Chaos

      Hey! Those calculus notes don’t get tossed. Not yet anyway. Oh if only they weren’t so necessary as the coursework increased in difficulty. 😉
      ~ an engineering student from long ago…

  14. #14

    To be honest this is really the problem of a public blogger, not scrapbookers in general. My kids are teens and they have no problem with me putting their stories in our family scrapbooks. Anything too personal gets tucked behind a photo so a casual viewer doesn’t get to read the nitty gritty.

    You can always create scrapbook pages for public viewing and blur the private details. I personally don’t enjoy putting my personal details online at all, much less my children’s (whether they are old enough to complain or not).

    1. #14.1

      I have to say some scrapbookers without blogs do have this problem. My boys are 13 and11. I am so proud of many things they do and want to include those in our scrapbooks. But often get a veto on taking the photos or if the photos get taken, on placing the pages in the albums. I get around that last one by keeping them in an album I keep separately so the pages are there to be found in time. But teens are surrounded by tech and the ability to be captured so easily, if they are saying enough, I think I has to be respected.

    2. #14.2

      Tj I agree with you. I was a design team member on an online store for those pages my Journaling was always hidden. So the stories…mine, theirs, and otherwise are still documented
      ..just not openly shared.
      As my children got older my blog posts got shallower and shallower. I no longer blog because I went back to my old fashioned journal. I found I lost a lot of the honesty in my Journaling when blogged. I felt others were reading it so I would pretty it up. I would “remember my audience” while writing instead of writing for me..which was what it was all about anyway, right?
      Cathy…I will always read what you write as you are entertaining. So far as therapy goes you do the best you can at the time. I know my pages are more about my husband and I as the kids grow older…we don’t spend as much time together anymore so I have more stories of us as couple than us as family. Therapy is good for throwing yourself under the bus. Remember to pick yourself back up and give yourself a hug and know you are learning. Hugs,

    3. #14.3

      I am going to have to respectfully disagree with TJ. I find myself thinking about this as my daughters get older (now 16 and 13) and I think about their children reading my journaling when they are 8 or 10- maybe my daughters don’t necessarily want to share some of the things I find “pertinent” to their present lives with their children until they decide to do so. Since I am not making a “sanitized” version and “deeply personal” version of our lives, this is definitely something that a non blogger struggles with, also.

  15. #15

    I’ve also always contemplated keeping the “heart heavy journal/scrapbook” in my nightstand for when the therapists says “what has been going on?!” and I can pull out the tear stained notes and fb pics from my older step kids to help explain my frustration. Because it’s a huge part of my life and I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist but it’s hard to sugar coat the heavy stuff. I’m sure it would be helpful some day for my little ones to see what we as parents were balancing when they were small.

  16. #16

    I identify with this in a different way. I hadn’t been able to articulate what it was until I read your post though. I do not share a lot of my step kids stories in our scrapbooks because I don’t feel like they are mine to share. Even though they are with us all the time, I’m not their parent and I guess I’m still uncomfortable with it. Very interesting stuff! I didn’t know why I felt uncomfortable with it until now but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head for me. 🙂

  17. #17

    I can relate even tho I have younger kids (12, 9,8) and they love to see them selves on the pages. I am dying to scrap about tooth fairy stories but only 1 knows its not real (gasp! Spoiler alert). When friends talk about how many scrapboooks can I really do because the kids won’t want them all, I say “this is not for THEM! I do this for me – its my creative outlet. So if in 15 years they try to take them I may not let them. They can have when I’m gone” and if someone is upset about my scrapbooking about a tantrum (12 yr old) or boyfriend, or even naked tushies from the 2 and under set, that’s too bad. Now, I am not on a blog nor do I put the pages anywhere but in the album. I don’t have a teen to have privacy issues (EYT!) nor do I have stories that anyone but us will read. Just my perspective. If you have a story to tell, do. Hide the journaling if you have to. Sometimes its cathartic just to get it out on paper, at least for me.

    1. #17.1

      I agree with your perspective Lisa. I have scrapped all the stories, happy and sad. However, I have hidden the journalling where it is about difficult times and my reactions to them. These scrapbooks are mine, as far as I’m concerned. I keep them in my studio where family members could come and seek them out but not on public display in living areas for casual visitors to view. One of our children went through a very difficult time for several years. I did scrap about it at the time. Now, on the other side of that, it is encouraging to review the albums and see how far we all have come. My mother has always kept a journal which she stores privately. Every few years she rereads them and then burns them. I guess her purpose has been fulfilled by then and this keeps her private thoughts private. I realise all this is different if your memory-keeping is for a commercial purpose. As a woman in her early 50s I say bring on the columns about hot flashes, changing body shapes and bad sleeping patterns! There are plenty of blogs out there for mothers – what about those of us who have been there, done that and can think about ourselves again for the first time in decades!? Self-absorbed? I prefer self-aware 😉

  18. #18

    I’m assuming you still write about them, at least from your own perspective. You just can’t blog about them or share those layouts…totally fair. Even if we are crazy-nosey 😉

  19. #19

    Cathy, maybe your issue is with publicly sharing those pages? I am a firm believer in journaling and the need to write the stories before they are forgotten. The story IS yours to tell – if from your perspective – but maybe not yours to “share”.

  20. #20

    I have only one child and she is 7, so I’m not claiming to have accurate insight. But I think there is a lot if pressure in the modern iteration of memory keeping to tell stories and build layouts around what is happening right now. But when you’re in the thick of things, I think it can be hard to know exactly what the story is. You need some time and some distance. And often, if we’re writing about our own lives, the subjects of those stories need some time and distance. Immediacy does not make a story better.

    You’re a designer, but your designs are not necessarily dependent on having current images and current stories to match up with them. It’s possible to reuse a photo or story to create several different layouts for sale. Or stamps. Or journal cards.

    But if reworking the same content feels too stale, years ago you used to have a series where you redesign other people’s pages using your clean & simple hybrid style. I always found that inspiring.

    Or, perhaps it’s time to create a creative team. This would allow you to step back and design memory keeping products without your stories having to do the heavy lifting when it comes to showing those products at work.

    1. #20.1
      Cathy Zielske

      All good ideas. Thank you for that.

      I do like the idea of a creative team, Yolanda, but I can’t afford to have one right now. People shouldn’t work for free and free product might not be enough incentive. 🙂

  21. #21

    I struggle with this thought sometimes and I don’t even have kids yet. Sometimes I’m telling stories that aren’t mine. I’ve resolved for now that even though they aren’t my stories, they do affect me. I’m the memory keeper and the stories, for better or worse, will be from my perspective. So if they’re worth telling, they’re worth telling and I try not to stress too much about getting the whole story.

  22. #22
    Heather D

    Keep telling your family stories. Just don’t share them publicly. I know, since you’ve made scrapbooking your livelihood, it’s hard to recall, but you used to scrapbook purely for yourself and your family. Try to remember that, and get back to that mindset.
    And there’s no harm in going back to revisit old photographs and stories. You can certainly look at them with a new perspective now, what with therapy and the distance that time gives you.

  23. #23

    oh wow! bingo. so glad you put this into a post. I’ve been feeling this in the past year and didn’t really know how/what to articulate. It’s nice to know there are so many of us that have this experience. I just thought it was me.

  24. #25

    I can totally relate to this topic – mother of 3 kids – youngest finishing high school now. Scrapbooking makes it all looks soo good. But, of course, life is not all good stuff. Our family has had to deal with some bad stuff too – depression, melt downs, bad choices, etc. So I have privately documented my own stories in my own book but in a sense – the college years begin a time of privacy for my kids – stuff I won’t document b/c it is their story. Kind of sad – less for me to “play” with but I guess then the focus shifts back to my husband and myself. Need to figure out how to change with the new phase of life. Then again, I do have a backlog of pics to finish . . . 🙂

  25. #26

    Oh, girl, this one strikes a nerve. 50 year old reformed stay at home mom, who was in charge of every story. I am SO right at that point in my life. I don’t have a blog, but I have found myself lately scrapping pictures of my own childhood, since those are still safe to tell. Work in progress, indeed.

  26. #27
    Lisa Cohen // Life is in the Details

    Oh and I forgot to add to my Facebook comment to thank you for always keeping it real and taking the crap out of scrapbooking!! You really do. (When I went back to FB and tried to add the comment, I couldn’t find the post so I must be completely losing it).

  27. #28

    this is something that I can totally identify with. within my own immediate family unit as I have a daughter getting ready to graduate from college. her challenges and struggles are part of her learning process – her story to tell. my motherhood experience is indeed mine and my story to tell, but like you say – not at the expense of her privacy. it also holds true in my larger family circle. once again, lessons I am learning, but not something to be shared with the world. it’s tough because I want to be honest, be authentic. I never want to give the impression that I be-bop through an easy life because I don’t share these personally hard messy stories. it’s that constant tug of war for me to focus on the positive and yet give credit to the challenges that define me as a person.

    cathy I think you are navigating through these waters with so much grace. as part of that first generation, modern scrapbook world…now with adult children…for me it has changed this whole concept of memory keeping. thank you for so honestly expressing the challenge and as always, for keeping it so real.

  28. #30
    Susan Piepol

    I get it. I don’t post every layout. Sometimes it’s because my kids don’t want to hurt their friends feelings if they’re not in a layout or sometimes the subject matter is too personal. I still create the layouts and they still go into their albums for review at a future time and place.

  29. #31
    Mary R

    It is super hard not to share. My Hayden is 19, soon to be 20 and in his second year of college. He has had some struggles of late that I am documenting for us (for him), but you won’t see it in the pages that I share. I had to learn to be respectful and ask if its okay and know that the minute I cross that line he might just say no to everything!

  30. #32

    Such a great post and something that needs to be said. Even though I am not a mom, I definitely can relate. Although I enjoy posting my scrapbooks online and sharing them with friends and family, I prefer to keep some messages private from the random online viewer or the family member or friend who is flipping through the pages of my scrapbooks in person. For the letters and messages that I don’t want everyone to see, I create layouts with hidden pockets and envelopes. Obviously you couldn’t create every layout with a pocket or flap with a secret hidden message (lol), but it might help you keep some stories private, out of respect for your children, while still documenting them from your perspective. This is by no means a new idea, but figured I’d share anyway 🙂

  31. #33

    I don’t have a family to document, so it’s always been about me. But there are lines for me too. Tho I’m trying to be more honest. Maybe I need to do one about Hot Flashes too.

  32. #34

    So what you’re telling me is the not so warm welcome by my daughter of the announcement that I would finally be scrapping her 12th birthday which was cupcake themed was caused by the fact that I shouldn’t have chosen to scrap her Fall falls from grace (walking pneumonia and walking, for a bit, instead of riding the whole parade with the Equestrian Club in the Homecoming Parade) not the fact that she really thinks I neglect her brother in my pages?
    You’re such a wise and fearless leader! Thanks for always being so thoughtful about memory keeping and being an advocate for my ever so human children and their secrets!

  33. #35

    I can relate as well. I am the mom of four–the youngest is a senior in high school, the oldest is 31 (and a brand-new dad–a new subject!). I’ve done Project Life since 2009, which has been a help because I can tell a sensitive story with a few words and maybe a photo and not a full-blown layout. I still love to do those as well, but more carefully. I do not often share online anymore, which also makes it easier. The greatest challenge came last year–even for my private scrapbooks–when my daughter’s seemingly-idyllic marriage suddenly ended (without warning even to her). Yikes. I process things with words and pictures–I’m a graphic designer too–and it has been an experience to remember this very powerful story in a way that respects and honors my daughter’s feelings. I have taken Ali Edward’s example and focused on the positive, while acknowledging the pain–not only for our daughter, but for our whole family who dearly loved this young man. This was one of those that was not just her story–it has profoundly affected all of us.

    And I thought life with toddlers was hard! Ha!

    1. #35.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Seriously. Life with toddlers? Hard, but this is psychic-ly harder on some levels, if that makes any sense.

    2. #35.2

      I think you have focused on such an important point Kary, these stories affect us all, not just the child (who is sometimes now an adult!) it is about. That is what I have chosen to do when I tell the hard stories; how it affected me personally with some background details of the event. While there is inevitably a positive from every situation sometimes it takes a while to become apparent! I have found telling these stories can sometimes help me see the good in an apparently bad situation.

  34. #37

    Wow — lots of good comments. I can relate — my kids are 22, 18 and 17. I have hesitated about some stories because they are not mine or are painful, but I wonder if I would have just let them out that at least I would have my perspective on them out there.

    I also have to wonder if I am falling into “helicopter parent” mode (have tried hard NOT to be!!) and if what I am thinking and feeling about what my almost grown children are going through is an indication that I am not living my own life as fully as possible. Were my parents as concerned about me at this age? I don’t know. I guess it’s a fine line between concerned parent and over involved parent.

    And while I don’t blog publicly, a part of me thinks that if the scrapbooks exist, the reality is that anyone could read them — so while in practice, they are private within the family, nothing is really private.

    For what it’s worth — I do appreciate when you share personal stories. We all learn from each others experiences.

    1. #37.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I would venture to say most of our parents were not this involved. They had ideas about the time needed to parent children. Any drama above and beyond wasn’t supposed to be in the plan, so back then, we all just dealt with it as neurotically as possible… at least I sure did.

      I do like the personal stories too, because I want stuff here that is real. I can tell lots of real stories about me. Maybe that should be the main focus. 🙂

  35. #38

    This has been a hot topic around our house too… I don’t want to abandon my beloved blog but the story pool is definitely shrinking, even though we’re at the beginning of the stage. I was also just saying to Matt that it’s a pity everyone with tweens/teens does start to censor so much more because never have I yearned for the blogging/parenting/story community more than this stage! It was so helpful to read other baby/toddler/little kid blogs when that was what we needed most, and now I know there are things to say/write about (many things) but I’m just not able to as easily, and know others aren’t either.

  36. #39
    Janice Hopkins

    I learned the hard way and it almost ruined my relationship with my two sons. Yes, I did it twice! Once to each one – not smart! I apologized and asked for a second chance. When in doubt, ask yourself ‘is the relationship more important than the event’. That one question has helped guide me through many hills and valleys. Parenting is tough! Good luck!

    (I’m not a blogger, I’m a blog reader)

  37. #40

    I think we all face this same dilemma as our kids age. My struggle may not be with my scrapbooks on a blog, but it’s the same with Facebook and Instagram and any other way that we share about our lives and our kids. It’s a delicate balance. Honoring them and ourselves.

  38. #41

    I am right there with you – have a 16 year old son and 21 year old daughter still living at home. Both are reluctant photo subjects and I have gone from having hundreds of monthly photographs to but a handful (and sometimes none at all). So I have changed my stories and pages scrapped to suit both lack of photographic evidence and taboo subjects. I now focus on the smaller picture rather than the bigger one. I document life’s little moments and tell simple stories about smaller things – favourite possessions, daily habits, everyday routines etc. For example, I did a spread recently on how I read a specific physical book for my book club only to discover my dd had read the same book in e-book format during the same week on her commuting trip and neither of us had realised this until she spied the book on my bedside table. This led to discussion not only about us both reading the same novel but about generational changes in reading format. So my advice is not to lament the shift of focus but to embrace those smaller “safer” stories.

  39. #42

    Yes, thank goodness someone is finally here with me! ugh, my youngest is 18, and well, I have felt this way for years, glad you were able to put your thoughts out there. I have tons of scrapbooking supplies and nothing to do with them! haha!

  40. #43

    I’m 50 and my daughters are 15 and 13. I don’t blog so there are no issues with privacy, but what has come up is that everyone has a different “truth” about a certain moment I might want to tell the story of. That is, we may all remember it differently from one another. Our perceptions are so subjective and it makes me realise when I look back over the albums, that it is MY version of stories that is always told. It has made me think about that concept you did with Aidan, Cathy; was it something like “she said, she said”? I might do a few of those as my kids continue to grow up so that their voices are heard too.

  41. #44

    I still have young kids and am not a professional scrapper. But I think of this when I post layouts on online galleries, or even when sharing things on facebook. I want to scrap things, even sometimes things about myself, but I don’t want to share them. I really liked the freebie you made last year that was a privacy mask (or something like that). Lets me share layouts where the aesthetics are great, colors, etc – so I can still share the design, but I can keep the journaling or images still private for me. I also sometimes think that people overshare, even among friends. Especially on social media. And while it may seem ok to share to you, your kids will not be ok with everyone knowing their every movement (and sometimes every bowel movement), from the moment they were born. It’s ok to still protect them and their privacy.

  42. #45
    Claire C

    So many of us can relate, Cathy! We are that first wave of scrapbookers (modern sense) to come across this, I think – a lot of us started when our kids were small back in the 90’s/00’s. I find I am putting more of myself in my layouts (usually selfies as I still haven’t found anyone who will take photos of me without being asked) and also life from my perspective ie. my work, my lifestyle because it WILL change. I am 50 and my kids are 19 and 17. My 19 yr old is suffering with depression and my 17 yr old has had challenges all through his life. I do not document the facts about this on my layouts. I DO scrap positive outlook layouts which hints at the struggles. THEY know how they feel. I also hide journalling. I do belong to a scrapping group where I feel safe to share my layouts, but I definitely would not share generally. It is sad that we can’t share our children’s struggles (through respect for them) as so many of us, as parents, think we are the only ones going through it. I’m all for layouts about lifestyle though – ie how I have gone from typewriter to laptop, or the changing face of Coke cans (I know …) because it really is interesting, looking back! I haven’t documented my flushes – must get onto that. I respect you very much for respecting your kids.

  43. #46
    Cara S

    I agree with the commenters who have focused on the ‘problem’ being it’s your business and your blog, and Roberta’s comment about it being your story to tell but not to share is spot on. The time might come when you make an official declaration that you are no longer blogging about your children, full stop, and then it’s a commitment.
    Children are such easy subject matter for scrap booking but there’s a whole market out there of scrapbookers without children or with older children who are looking for inspiration for layouts – maybe you can lead the charge!
    I’m about 10 years ahead of you age wise so I’m an empty nester but I’ve arrived on ‘the other side’ ie become a grandmother, so I have new ammunition for my pages (but I would never share anything about my grandson on line either, I think privacy is going to become a major major issue in coming years, and what’s shared on line is there for ever).

  44. #47
    Jen Kinkade

    Couldn’t agree more. Shaking my head and saying yes through the entirety of your post. And this post could also explain why Project Life never seemed to jive for me, personally.
    I don’t go on fancy trips. I am not doing cute crafts with my little kids. I don’t have a magazine worthy house, and so forth… My life is more like doing housework, going to the grocery store, letting the dogs in and out 50 times a day, making dinner. That’s real 😉
    Sometimes you have to step back and live life without displaying it perfectly. Some days, weeks, months I don’t have a story to tell. Sometimes the stories aren’t mine to tell as well with children 22, 16, and 14. Let’s not even talk about how they avoid the camera like it’s the plague!! Another well done post where I think, “Yes!! She totally gets me!” 🙂

  45. #48

    Navigating this terrain with you Cathy. My heart and hands get tired and somewhat hurt at the sharp slaps that come for tgeir opinion of oversharing. This is all new territory and with that comes learning albeit painful very painful experiences and learning whats ok and what is not. I don’t need (though would give my right hand, especially the one most slapped!) a creative team position to continue championing your products, promoting on ig, fb and my blog and publicly acknowledging my appreciation of your amazing talents! Your templates are awesome and my expanding scrapbooks are testimony!.

  46. #50
    Audrey V

    wow, lots of comments! My oldest is a freshman in college and my youngest is 17. No one ever told us scrapbooking moms that there was a stopping point. I have certainly made less pages about my boys’ personalities since they became teens, out of privacy, and mostly stick to the obvious celebrations and victories. But it is hard. My younger son was dating a girl, for the second time, who dumped him the first time. I was very reluctant to even include her photo in PL because I knew she would dump him again, and she did (moms always know, don’t we?). I would love to document that story, because it is an important story in his life, but I can’t, that’s his story to tell, not mine.

    And I kind of feel like I am at somewhat of a stopping point with my college boy, but I like the previous comment about making some pages with just the facts, where he lives, his roommates, his jobs, etc.

    Great topic Cathy, let’s continue this discussion in the future!

  47. #51
    Audrey V

    And I love the idea of a CZ design team, paid or unpaid. You have lots of great products that need a showcase!

  48. #52

    Yep, with children 27, 23, and almost 17 I totally understand what you are talking about and yet, they are my scrapbooks for my family (and here is the tricky part) and friends, yep friends (or girlfriends or future wives) and with that in mind I think it is important to ‘watch’ what you scrap or maybe more than that it is important to watch what you say. All of our stories together are what makes us who we are, what makes us a family so I intend on scrapping “those” stories and just being very careful of the words. (I’ll be going back and scrapping photos of my two oldest that will include their dad to whom I’m not married anymore but they are my kids’ memories, my kids’ stories so I want to honor that too.)

    Another thought I just had was that I may, with certain things, ask my kids and their families to journal those stories for me. I was scrapping my first grandson’s birth and realized I didn’t have much to say about the birth itself other than I waited a lot…lol! I asked his mom to do some journaling to add to the book and it really turned out well!

    So much to think about!

  49. #53
    Maria Glazener

    Oh, I am so in the same boat! I have a 13 year old, my only one, who doesn’t want her picture taken, doesn’t want me to talk about anything that is going on with her! What happen to those sweet days of old, when she loved being a ham in front of the camera and wanted to tell me everything? Hang in there, it is a bumpy road ahead, but we’ll get it done!

  50. #54

    Since I don’t have kids I have been concentrating on telling my own story. Going back to the beginning and writing and gathering photos and documents into one place (actually 3 6×8 albums). I’m also gathering family history and putting a book together that tells about furniture, jewelry, heirlooms that will eventually pass on to my nephews. So I would love to see you design some pages or mini albums that are a long these lines. Currently taking Kerri Bradford’s History project class and took Ali Edwards Yesterday class and the Me Before You class with Jennifer Wilson at BPC.

  51. #55

    I hear you. My oldest is experiencing her freshman year in college. I cannot even begin to express the mental anguish I experience as she struggles and makes her own choices. It is therapeutic for me to get my thoughts out on my blog. I also know that there are others who may benefit from me publicly hashing out those thoughts. But I am pretty much silent on these matters out of respect for my daughter. There is plenty of talk and support out in blog land for mommies dealing with potty training and breast feeding. This is less true for moms of young adults, because we love and respect our grown children so much. It is just nice to know that I am not alone.

  52. #56
    Michelle t

    Thanks for sharing. I understand only in part of what you are going thru. I hope things work out, get better for everyone real soon. Michelle t

  53. #57

    HI Cathy! Thinking of you and sending hugs! I totally understand (although, of course, I am not a memory keeper for a living). My guys are 22 and almost 18…as crazy as that is. I wonder if I will remember the things I am thinking but not writing down about their stories these days….Maybe vanishing ink is in order!

    WE are all happy to see whatever you share…old, new, make believe, whatever!


  54. #58

    This is so true. I started blogging a year ago and one of my first problems to solve was : shall I show my face on the blog or not. I didn’t even question that for my children : the answer was a “no” from the beginning. But this utter privacy prevents me from showing my PL or telling more personal stories. And telling more personal stories or being involved in my own blog is what I’d like to do right now. I’ve always been amazed with your family allowing you to share their stories with the world.. so far…

  55. #59

    I love your blog and your keep it simple designs. Just saying’. I have approached these stories of my 16 yr old son and 18 yr old daughter with a bit of trepidation as well. I keep those pages private and at some point in the future my kids will look through those pages. They will see the struggles we had and the thoughts I had on those struggles. I hope those pages will help my kids with their own struggles at some point in there life. You never know what the future holds. They may be able to hear your voice and advice long after you are gone in those pages. We don’t need to see all of those pages, we love you just the way you are…hot flashes and all!

  56. #60

    “Good morning. Yes, you are the “sole memory keeper” for you family, and, when I read it, I was thinking that you are the “soul memory keeper” for your family… which makes your trust and love with them even more precious. Good for you as you are practicing and protecting their privacy. I guess you can add a couple more “ing” words to your wonderful word list.

    With age comes much wisdom!

  57. #61

    Hey Cathy-

    As always, wonderful stuff here. I wanted to thank you for calling out that it’s okay to scrap about yourself over the years.

    I mentioned this to a good friend and fellow scrapbooker of mine and she paused for a second because I know that she had never really considered scrapbooking about herself. She has two girls with plenty of activities to keep her scrapping for years, but I think it’s so important to capture some of herself. . .this way she leaves something for her girls about her and the two of them. It is not a self-centered thing and one day your children will thank you for giving them a piece of you and who you are besides their Mom.

  58. #62

    I feel ya’ Even as you say, you are part of the story, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your story to tell. I have to be really careful about that with my stepchildren especially. You’ll figure it out.

  59. #63

    I don’t know if someone has already said this, as I haven’t read all comments, but I’d say this also has to do a lot with identity. Maybe I say that because I’m on the other side of momhood, having a toddler and a baby. And I struggled for quite a while with my new identity as a mother. A new baby requires you to spend all your time caring for them continuously, leaving little time for myself and my interests. Everybody else also keeps asking after your child and referring to you as a mom..not as a funny woman or graduated woman or..etc. But just mother. And it took me a little while before I could accept that. Slowly it takes over your whole life. Also because..let’s face it..they’re that adorable, amazing and wonderful..you want your whole life to be about them! But it makes you also forgot a little bit who you were before.
    AndI know that in years 18 or so..everything will change again. I will still be a mom, but it won’t be my main role anymore. But by then, will I still remember what my identity was before? As a mom gets used to thinking about, worrying over, and talking about your children, she needs to find out what else defines her when they leave home. And I think I’d feel very sad. I think it would be so hard to accept that that amazing part of your life is changing into something else. not strange that someone would struggle at all!
    Whether this is something you can relate to or not, I don’t know. Either way I know I’d love to hear about you too! (Not just about your gorgeous children) More stories about Cathy please:)

  60. #64
    Cara S

    I agree that the main problem here is that your business revolves around your blog and the family stories you have told over the years, but Roberta is right in that the stories are still yours to tell, from your perspective, but not to share. Young children are such easy subject matter for scrap booking, but there is a whole world out there of scrapbookers without young children in their lives, hungry for inspiration. You could carve a niche for yourself right there. However I agree with the comments about not wanting to make it all me me me either. Maybe you will come to the day when you make a public declaration that you will no longer ‘use’ your children in your public scrap booking (bit tricky when you’re sharing your PL) and then that’s it.
    I’m about 10 years ahead of you so I now have a young grandchild and some of my pages have moved in his direction, although as he lives interstate I don’t have endless opportunities to photograph him or observe his everyday life. What I would never do is share anything publicly about him. I think privacy is going to become an even bigger issue in the future and once you’re out there on the www you’re there forever. Making that decision for someone else is a huge step to take.

  61. #65

    This has been my struggle, as well. Changing lanes, becoming less and less my son’s biographer and more and more my own autobiographer. It does feel really indulgent (and weird) to shift the focus towards myself, but I’ve realized it’s also the type of story that I seek out from others at this point in my life. I’m less drawn to other people’s pages about baby’s firsts and days at the park because I’ve already been there and survived that, and I’m more drawn to the stories of people who are existing in a space similar to me – those who are becoming a bit more introspective, at times overly nostalgic, maybe a bit frivolous, irreverent and just slightly neurotic. I will always appreciate that there are others out there with similar narratives running parallel to mine, and admire their willingness to break from the norm and tell it.

  62. #66

    become a crazy cat lady? all kitteh, all the time. they have no rights. they can’t say you can’t blog that photo about them licking their own butt. cats. the solution is cats.

    also, i’m on the verge of tweendom with an eldest girl, so you are basically my future. i already have the one cat, i need warning if crazy cat lady is my future, it will make a huge difference in that new couch we might buy here soon.

    oh and she is 10, they watched your bee dance video on a loop in the car. for twenty minutes. so. start stretching now, she expects bee dance video this fall. i may have also told her the bee lady some times sets her old dead christmas tree on fire in the spring. . .she is eagerly awaiting video footage of the tree, so get on that one soon. anyway, until you get the cats, there’s two posts. you just have to worry about the rest of the year to fill in between them.

    thank you always for being you cathy.

    1. #66.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh, she won’t be happy with me this year… we recycled our tree because I told Dan it was dangerous to burn it in our yard. 🙁 forgive?

  63. #67

    I think the difficulty occurs because their stories affect our lives but our ability to tell our story is hindered by trying to protect their privacy? It is also, I believe, part of the process of parenting moving from being our primary role as our children age and mature. I find myself flicking past scrapbooking blogs and sites which are mostly overly decorated pictures of children recording nothing more than how bright/beautiful/adorable/loved the child is. As I age `clean and simple’ appeals more and more in every facet of life from house decor to clothing to scrapbooks. The only complexity I am interested in belongs in a great novel or movie plot. We do become the focus of our lives more as our children grow. Our garden, our dog (who NEVER complains about her privacy being invaded!) , events enjoyed with my husband have become my scrapbooking staples. Dramatic stuff? No, maybe not at first glance but I love the slower, more meaningful pace of our life. Having time to notice nature changing around us, time to spend a whole day photographing a gorgeous view, time to spend napping and reading – these are the good things of life today. Of course my scrapbooks look different now, so they should as my life does too.

    1. #67.2
      Sally Kemp

      Jules, I love your post as well. My kids are all young adults now, and for a while I thought that my scrapbooking life had ended. But not so. Now I’m taking time to focus my scrapbooking energy on *my* interests, family history, and hobbies, and also to include my husband on my pages a lot more than I used to 🙂

  64. #69

    I would love it if you did a class on scrapbooking when your kids are grown, refuse to let you take their picture, or for those who never had kids. I love the idea of Project Life, but I might go months without even snapping a terrible shot on my phone. Inspiration in that department would be welcomed by me!

  65. #71

    But you do still have a story to tell. Maybe not as much in public spaces…but your response to their experiences is still your story. I am finding myself turning more and more to just journaling lately, because I still have to figure out and then write what I am feeling, learning, experiencing because of my kids’ choices. My response is the only story I really CAN tell and honestly…unless the subject of your layouts also writes the journaling, that is always true.

  66. #72
    Amanda B

    I know you posted this a week ago. And, you’ve received a lot of comments, many of them probably pretty helpful. I haven’t read through them but I wanted to give you my thoughts on the subject.

    While main parts of these stories aren’t yours to tell, your involvement, feelings, reactions to said stories ARE. Now, can you share them in the venues you’re used to sharing? Perhaps that’s not the best idea…but I don’t see what’s wrong with telling your side of the story in a personal/private setting. Like a journal or a personal album.

    I imagine it’s hard as you’ve made a living on sharing your stories is the scrapbook community. And I agree that it’s easier when kids are younger. But just because you’re not the center of a story anymore doesn’t mean you’re not part of the story just by being Mom.

    That’s my opinion anyway. Who knows, it may change in 10 years when I have a 16 year old…but I hope it doesn’t.

    Regardless, I feel for you and hope you can sort it out.

  67. #73

    I think it is awesome you are respecting their space. Do you still scrap the stories and place them in your album, but just not share with the public? Growth stories need to be documented even if they are not shared publicly.

  68. #74

    ha ha! my little one (actually she is my big one) is 6 and 3/4 and every time I take a picture she says: “you’re not putting this on the internet are you?” …

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