Summer Voices | Cathy Zielske


We’re on summer holiday and we’ve invited some of our friends to share their voices and projects here over the next 2 weeks. Say hello to Cathy Zielske:


Time is a bullet train.

My daughter Aidan starts her senior year of high school in just over a month. Tack on one more year and she’s off to a yet-to-be-selected college, but one that we’re pretty sure isn’t going to be a hop, skip and a jump from our front door.

Even though there are at minimum 365 days that must pass between now and that time, I find myself mentally preparing for our nest to be lighter by one remarkable body.

And by ‘mentally preparing’, I actually mean, ‘putting it in the farthest corner of my disbelieving mind.’ You see when I agreed to go off birth control back in 1995 I had precisely zero knowledge of exactly what I was signing on for. I wasn’t one of those girls who daydreamed what it would be like to grow up, get married and become a mama. In fact, when I met my husband Dan, one of the first things I needed to get on the table was my lack of desire for children.

It had never even crossed my mind that I’d procreate. During my early teens I babysat for some singularly awful kids and that pretty much sealed the deal: parenting was not something that would ever show up on my resume of life.

But a funny thing happened when I turned 29. I started noticing babies. Everywhere I looked, there they were. And far from the howling, smelly, horrible little poop balls I’d imagined, they were actually—much to my surprise and shock—kind of cute.

Of course, that was 17 years ago—an entire lifetime if you’re my daughter—and what I’m looking at now is, just like embarking on the parenthood journey, an entirely new and foreign landscape to navigate. This singular creature whose care and nurture has been in my charge is preparing to move on and out. Now more than ever, grace and wisdom and love are needed to help her move confidently through this transition.

That is my most important task at hand.

Life does change in a blink. That isn’t some cliché. It seems like just yesterday, when I would tip toe around in the early morning hours to make sure she slept just a little longer so I could snag a cup of coffee in peace and quite before the day commenced. Today, I could play my 13-year-old son’s drum set and neither she nor he would likely even stir.

It’s things like this that mark the time. Things like realizing they don’t need you to help them decide what to wear anymore. Things like realizing they now stay up later than you do. Things like seeing them develop their own ideas and opinions. Things like realizing they are not simply an extension of you.

As a memory keeper—a scrapbooker who’s out and proud of it—I’m more grateful than ever to have documented parts of her life—of my life—with this beautiful, amazing, surprising and delightful young woman.

I have a lot of friends who would say to me over the years, “I don’t know how you find the time for that sort of thing,” and I hear them. I really do.

I guess it’s just been one of my ways to mark the time.

I love you, baby girl. Here’s to another remarkable year in the life.

ABOUT CATHY | Cathy Zielske is a graphic designer by trade who stumbled into the scrapbook industry in 2001 decided to stay for a while. An author of the Clean & Simple Scrapbook book series, she brings her design savvy to scrapbookers through online classes and her Designer Digitals collection. She blogs at cathyzielske.com. Find her on Twitter and Facebook . She once had Ali at her house where they discovered a petrified chicken nugget in her basement. It has since become the stuff of legend.


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32 thoughts shared

  1. Jo-Anne from ZA

    2013-08-01 21:10:11 +0800

    I know my husband sighs everytime i say 'i am going to scrapbook' or mommy is taking ANOTHER photo with her phone or camera....sigh

    But IT IS SO WORTH THE SIGHS, TIME AND EFFORT because before you know it i catch my little boy saying 'Look Mommy there Josh in the photo' or my husband browsing through my album.

    These memories are truly PRICELESS and you can never turn back the clock so i make sure i capture lifes sweet sweet moments TODAY and EVERYDAY - even if they think i am a pain in the butt:-)

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  2. Angie Kyle

    2013-08-01 21:10:13 +0800

    Right there with ya! My oldest is about to start his senior year in a week from tomorrow. This past Monday I took him for senior portraits. I'm feeling your pain. I've already had one big breakdown. I've also been taking Ali Edwards' Hello Story class at BPC which has really triggered lots of journaling to get down my feelings about theses changes coming. Are you taking this class as well? Check it out.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  3. Jo

    2013-08-01 21:30:20 +0800

    Oh Cathy you are such a wonderful wordsmith. Your daughter is truly blessed to have such a wonderful mum and dad of course, oh yes and the amazing younger brother.
    Jo xxx

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  4. Emilie

    2013-08-01 22:07:33 +0800

    Cathy, this was so well written! i am currently typing with blurred vision because i still have tears in my eyes... i am currently in the potty training phase, (FUN times) and just knowing life is a vapor... and to cherish every moment.. thank you for reminding me, and thank you for some GREAT reading..

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  5. Stacy Milford

    2013-08-01 22:29:18 +0800

    What a gorgeous photo @ the bottom of your post! I've already been where you are today...x 2. In a matter of a few weeks we will be moving our "baby" across the state (5+ hours from home). I have a feeling this is going to be tougher than the 1st one. But what I keep going back to is seeing that my young sons, who have become wonderful young men, are happy. They are following their hearts, doing what they are called to do. For me, this is so exciting to see. In a way, I think it's ok to pat ourselves on the back & say "job well done". (Though I hear its never really done!!!) So here's to any empty nest...to new adventures...to a new normal! Let go & let God :)

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  6. Wendy

    2013-08-01 22:42:50 +0800

    Faithfully read Cathy and Ali's blogs each day. The photo of Cathy and Aidan is breathtaking!!! Our only child, our son, leaves for college in a few weeks. It is a wonderful journey. One I am grateful for, even if my heart breaks for this next stage of independence.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  7. Theresa

    2013-08-01 22:58:21 +0800

    WOW!!! I have seen many pictures of you and your beautiful daughter...by far this one if the BEST!!! What an amazing post!

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  8. Kristi K.

    2013-08-01 23:16:37 +0800

    Beautiful! My eldest is starting senior year, too, and I feel the same bittersweet. Thanks for sharing the emotional journey with us.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  9. stacyk

    2013-08-01 23:37:56 +0800

    She is beautiful Cathy!!

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  10. TracyBzz

    2013-08-02 00:02:48 +0800

    First, Dan doesn't look like he's aged a bit in the last 17 years - wow! Second, Adian has FABULOUS hair! Third, well said as always. Well documented too.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  11. bdaiss

    2013-08-02 01:05:48 +0800

    Oh Cathy, how well spoken. Our lives are eerily similar. I too never thought I would have kids, yet am now blessed with two beautiful, crazy, wonderful humans to guide through life. Mine are a bit younger (6 and 3) but your words on parenting always speak directly to my heart. It is such a continual challenge to nurture, teach, guide, and love these two so they may grow up to be intelligent, independent, thoughtful, and good citizens of this crazy world we live in.

    And yes. Time is most definitely a bullet train. I just try to hang on and enjoy the ride.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  12. Lee Currie

    2013-08-02 01:13:04 +0800

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (as always) and can relate to it all. I'm a mere 365 days ahead and we're packing for Claire to leave for University at the end of the month. I am so excited for her adventures ahead and hoping that through the last 17 years I've raised her well enough to take it all on :) As much as I'll miss her, I'm excited for her. I have no doubt Aidan with ROCK the next 365 days and every day after. Thank YOU so much for what you've taught me about memory keeping. It truly has been the best way to "mark time" and your inspiration has been instrumental. Thank you so much - from me and my kids!

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  13. Michele H.

    2013-08-02 01:39:37 +0800

    this is simply beautiful cathy! my daughter too, will be a senior and i still can't believe it. we'll be planning outfits this week for her upcoming senior portrait session!

    btw...the "petrified chicken nugget" gave me a good laugh:)

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  14. Laura

    2013-08-02 01:45:37 +0800

    Amazing pictures in this post . . . all of them. And great honest writing.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  15. Paula

    2013-08-02 03:02:33 +0800

    Crying happy tears for you. Lovely post, so sweet and bittersweet. I have one in his "5th" year of college who moved away 2 years ago and has had lots of ups and downs, with steady progress - so don't worry Mama, you will still be needed, just differently! I have a wonderful 15 year old who's future is less sure based on a disability, so posts like this tug my heart and soul in ways words can't describe. One thing I can say though is I am getting those words and snippets and photos down, imperfectly, in my scrapbooks. And I thank you for helping me make that happen over the years.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  16. Donna Silber

    2013-08-02 04:01:40 +0800

    I too am a scrapbooker and have friends constantly comment about how they don't have the time etc. I force myself to make time because when I see my kids (14,21,25) take out a scrapbook and ask questions and smile and laugh, it was so worth every minute!

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  17. Lisa W.

    2013-08-02 05:04:16 +0800

    OH WOW Cathy I hear ya loud and CLEAR. I have raised three, and my baby (only daughter) just finished her first year of college AND lived their her first year. It IS extremly hard to let them go. But I gotta say thank you for the giggles...I was different as I always felt like that is just what I would do is have babies...I always babysit, when I did grow up (LOL) and was going to have my first child I was mezmorized by the pregnancy I loved to be pregnant, I loved to feel that baby move, and was pretty darn lucky to have three healthy kids. Now with that said way back when I babysit allot of them were "little poopballs" (I loved that) so true:) And yes even my own little kiddo's were sometimes little poopballs. BUT just like you I had NO idea what I was in for. And before I could blink a eye my baby was off to college and now already finished her first year. Sighhhhhhhhhh...I don't know where the time goes. And a scrapbooker myself I am always taking pics and get the "Mom are you kidding me you want a picture of that:) YEP I do...and I know some day they will ALL appreciate all those pictures. Thanks for this post...enjoyed ALLOT, and thanks for the giggles.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  18. Barbara

    2013-08-02 06:35:05 +0800

    Cathy,
    This is exactly how I feel - except I did grow up and dream of being a wife and mother. I still had no idea what it had in store for me. My daughter leaves for college in 22 days. The part I never anticipated this time in my life. I am guessing that I will cry all the way home from dropping her off at college as I did when I dropped her off at Kindergarten.

    I've been thinking about all the things that I no longer have to do for her and how she has grown and now has opinions of her own. I think it is time to create a scrapbook page.

    Thanks for expressing everything that I was feeling.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  19. Adel O

    2013-08-02 07:55:06 +0800

    Insightful post. My daughter is 15 and I have renewed my efforts to record these special mother/ daughter moments in the album entitled "A girl of my own". It's just too precious and too fleeting.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  20. Chrisy@GoodNorthCoastLife

    2013-08-02 08:17:12 +0800

    Lovely to see you here Cathy. Really appreciate reading your lovely words, thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts so honestly. One of the things l love about reading the blogs l follow (which includes yours and Ali's) is that they are filled with reminders to cherish everyday and live in the moment.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  21. Angie Martin Hall

    2013-08-02 09:48:00 +0800

    Oh, Cathy! I teared up when I read your post. I, too, am about to send my baby Kayla to college next year. She just turned 17, and I'm like, "what happened?" It seems just like it was yesterday that the familiar "thwat" I'd hear five minutes after changing her diaper meant I'd need another diaper. And, whatever did we do with that first tooth?

    The speed of life makes me glad I scrapbooked girlie-girl's early years. I did all of that with help from you and Ali.

    Thanks for sharing...and yes, Aidan is a lovely woman. And so are you.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  22. Stacie

    2013-08-02 11:01:17 +0800

    oh my mercy, what a beautiful young woman...inside and out as evidenced by your stories over the years...and what a beautifully written piece! thanks for sharing another piece of you!

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  23. Alida

    2013-08-02 15:26:07 +0800

    Marking the time vs finding the time... I'll be quoting that...Beautifully written piece. I entered parenthood behind schedule, but am now so grateful for the "extra" years I have with them at home.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  24. Kelly Griglione

    2013-08-03 00:48:47 +0800

    YAY, so thrilled to see Cathy here! I've been a fan of hers for, um, decades? Like she says, time certainly does fly by. Always love reading her thoughts on life (since we can all relate) and this is no exception.

    Thank you!

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
  25. Marilyn Bronson

    2013-08-13 06:29:16 +0800

    Very well said indeed! Lovely young lady and equally lovely Mom.

    * edited 08/09/14 05:52AM
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