Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

On Wrinkles, Parenting, and Drawing on Napkins

As we sat around the dinner table tonight, I paused and looked at my little boy, who is – in his mind, a big boy – but remains little in mine because being six can’t yet be big. I also see that he’s no longer little-little. As I watched him open the straw for his juice box and insert it into the tiny foil hole at the top, I almost started crying.

This is a post about crying over nothing, and on wrinkles, parenting, and drawing on napkins. 

“I love you, buddy. You’re such a big boy,” I said, thinking about how quickly and slowly life’s moments happen. I felt pride because he can open the straw for a juice box when once I wondered when he’d be able to do so. I watch him and cannot believe that we’re here. That he’s six, and talking and having conversations when once I wondered whether I’d ever understand some of his actions and words. Understand him. His progress. His him-ness. His growth is breaking and filling my heart every single day.

He’s both big and little. His closeness to me and his independence stretch and recede. I am constantly full of pride and exploding love. I am constantly missing the before-hims. I already miss now-hims as they happen and are gone, just like that. 

I walk behind his chair and stroke his hair, remembering when he wasn’t yet able to hold up his little bald head.


I watched the sunset from my front porch and thought “Tomorrow, you’re not gonna be one of the little kids anymore.” It was the night before my sixth birthday. I walked to school alone each day, although my mom could see my commute from her kitchen window. She drew pictures on my lunchbox napkins. Most of the time, I looked to see what was on it before getting to school. I was a big girl. I was so young.

On Wrinkles, Parenting, and Drawing on Napkins


Today, I met my son as he got off the school bus. He’d told a friend and her brother about Strike, his new pet guinea pig. He’d invited them to come over to meet her. As their mom and I walked, my boy and his friend walked separately, and crossed the street without me. “They must have looked both ways first,” I thought. I only felt a little panic. After he asked whether they wanted to “see the hamster dead,” they said yes, and he pulled Lightning’s box from the freezer. I think they regretted it, because the look on his six-year-old’s friend face? But their mom laughed, and I think it was okay. Okay enough, anyway.

His friends left, and I emptied my son’s lunchbox and tossed the napkin I drew on that morning. I wonder when my mom stopped drawing on my napkins. When I will.


“You’re gonna let us take him home? Just like that?” I said. “You check the carseat and we can just leave?” My son was a newborn, and I couldn’t believe that the guy in an Army uniform at the hospital said that we could go home because the carseat was acceptable. While part of me wanted to argue with him and say “but we don’t know what to do.” Another part whispered “let’s go” thinking that we’d better go home before they knew we weren’t actually qualified to care for an infant. I felt like a grownup. And like a child who needed her parents.


I look into the mirror. “When did I stop looking good?” I wonder. I think about how much better I looked 15 years ago. I can see the skin beneath my eyes become thinner and more papery by the month. I imagine myself in 15 years, and know that I’ll think about how much better I looked today than I will then.

I hope to be here in 15 years, worrying over my papery lines and folds. My son will be 21. He’ll be an adult. He’ll probably have abs and feel like he knows everything the way that I once did. The way that 21 year olds do. They’re so grown up. They are so young.


Back when I knew everything, I thought that by this point in my life, I’d be more organized, more legally prepared, more life-prepared.

Today, I know how little I know, and realize that with each year comes growth and power and more me-ness.  That it gets easier and harder to forget how old we are.

There’s a me who lives inside, one without papery skin beneath her eyes. She feels like the same girl who stood on her porch the night before her sixth birthday. She feels like she did at 17 in love for the first time.

She feels the way she did in the hospital, the day she took her infant son home.

And yet, she also knows that she’s lived with enough intent during the important moments so that they are now a part of a wiser, more-papery-eyed her. 

She’s finally old enough to know what she doesn’t know. I think she and I are okay with that.

Together though, we’ll continue the search for perfect eye cream and read hundreds of wrinkle cream reviews, because no age means that seeing papery wrinkles in the mirror is the same as seeing ourselves. Except for when it is, because we’re each all of the people we’ve been and will become. Some of them, especially the ones in our futures, have wrinkles. 

On Wrinkles, Parenting, and Drawing on Napkins

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence is “”I thought that by this time in life, I’d…” I’m your host, and would love if you’d consider following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Or, well, on all of them, because social media is almost the same likiness as wine is these days.

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  • Tamara - I don’t think you stopped looking good ever!
    As for notes in lunches, my mom did it occasionally in high school, I kid you not. I think I needed that inspiration even though I bought lunch a lot.February 25, 2016 – 11:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw you’re the sweetest ever. For real. And yay for notes in lunches in high school!February 26, 2016 – 3:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Oh, Kristi I can’t believe that you had nothing just hours before writing this gem of a post. It’s lovely. I’m delighted to learn how well your lad is doing. And yes, I look in the mirror and am shocked by my chin. How did that happen? Lord above. I’m not 36 anymore? Ha! Farrrr from it.
    On another note, I got to hold my niece’s 26 hour-old daughter today. Wow. That was wonderful. I’d forgotten how tiny the feet are. And the ears! And the nose. So cute. So vulnerable. So sturdy.February 25, 2016 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You are so so kind Kelly! Sometimes, waiting until the last second helps. Often though it doesn’t. I really need to get better about doing these sentence things in advance!
      Awwww to holding your niece’s daughter. 26-hours old? Precious. Did you smell the baby’s head? I miss that smell…February 26, 2016 – 3:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - I really hate when you say you have nothing and then spew gorgeousness like this…all the freaking time. 😀
    Oh looking in the mirror and wondering how my mother got there (or some days my grandmother) is something I do often. And I can’t tell you how many days, especially in the last year, I have looked at Zilla and wondered “when did you stop being a baby kid and start being a kid-kid?” She is growing so fast in so many ways and it’s so much fun and so exciting and also so very terrifying.
    My mom used to put lunchbox notes in my lunch. We do it with Zilla, too. And every now and then when I pack a lunch and take it to my Mom, I pop a note in hers, too. 😉
    Well. That all said I have zero on my post for this and I really should get to it.February 26, 2016 – 12:18 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hey Lisa,
      Well thank you thank you thank you! Although, I have to admit that it often doesn’t work to wait until the last minute. I had one recently (last week??) that was kinda a flop because of my procrastination. I’m glad you like this one though – that means a lot to me, thank you.
      I know what you mean about wondering when the baby kid disappeared. Sob. That’s so cool that you put notes in Zilla’s lunches AND your moms! Awesome. I can’t wait to read your Finish the Sentence post. It’ll be fabulous as always.February 26, 2016 – 3:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I totally still write little notes for both my girls and truly hope that they don’t become too old for that anytime soon!February 26, 2016 – 4:41 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - Kristi!!!! I adored that picture if you. And I’m a little freaked about the hamster in the freeze!? And wrinkles, oh dear. I stress so much about it. And I’m thinking I might do something, and i feel so vain to be even considering doing anything. I want to age gracefully, but I’m to insecure to do so…February 26, 2016 – 7:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie Allie! Yeah, I’m a little freaked out about the hamster in the freezer too. It’s been too wet for a proper funeral outside. Maybe this weekend. And yeah, I’ve done a couple of things for the wrinkles and am considering the surgery for real. Vain, I know but UGH. Sigh.February 26, 2016 – 3:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - If you’ve never listened to a blog post out loud you’ve gotta try it. I only do that with a few people who I know what they sound like because I can hear you reading it – not the Siri-ish voice. Anyway walking down the street I laughed out loud a couple times starting with the juice box. You and the Siri-ish voice are funny. I related in the teary eyed fact because I did the same thing with Christopher asking to eat a frozen dinner then following the microwave directions to a tee. (Current age) Lol! Loved this post. Replying on foot with numb thumb and cold hand.February 26, 2016 – 9:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’ve been meaning to listen to blog posts but never end up doing it. I need to. I bet I’d like yours out loud. Awww to the teary eyes over Christopher following the directions so well with his micro-meal. How does the time go so so quickly?February 26, 2016 – 3:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - You’ve made me see my wrinkles in a whole new light, so thank you for that, although I do still hate them.:) And, I love how you draw on T’s napkins and have passed that cute tradition down to him – very sweet.February 26, 2016 – 10:21 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Well I still hate my wrinkles too… sigh. I hope T likes the napkin drawings. He never says anything about them. I should ask him if he likes them!February 26, 2016 – 3:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - Loved this line: She’s finally old enough to know what she doesn’t know. The older I get the more I realize how little I do know and it was weird the first time I had that revelation. Also, I know you are glad Tucker invited a friend home to see his new pet. When I was his age, apparently I invited most of the kids from my class to come to my birthday party. It wasn’t my birthday. There wasn’t a party. But I wanted there to be a party. The invite didn’t go over well with my mother when about 7 kids stepped off the bus with me.

    I love the napkin drawing idea although I never did it. I wish I would’ve though. I did put notes on occasion in my husbands lunch…but what a grand idea for Tucker (and for you when you were a child).

    Happy Friday Kristi.February 26, 2016 – 12:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Linda, it really IS a weird feeling to realize how little we actually know. I love that you told a bunch of kids to come for your birthday party when it wasn’t your birthday and there was no party! That’s plain old awesome.
      I don’t think I’d have ever thought to include notes on his napkins if my mom hadn’t done it for me… thanks!February 26, 2016 – 3:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - Ya had nothing, huh? Well your ‘nothing’ turned out to be something quite special. I love the way you weave between your childhood, your now-hood, and T’s ever-changing present. It’s magical. And that pic of little-girl- you? CUTE! (and also a LOT like T around the eyes and cheeks, no?) 🙂 I’m so impressed with how he’s becoming ever more independent, and capable. I loved being able to see that in person. And being able to see you in person, too. You’re just as wonderful In Real 🙂February 26, 2016 – 12:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Love this so much!!!! Yes to being old enough to know what we don’t know. And, 15 years ugh! 15 year from now, my oldest will be 28!!!!! When I was 28 I had my second kid. 😳February 26, 2016 – 12:43 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Lisa! And yeah, knowing what we don’t know is pretty huge I guess. Also GULP to 15 years and your oldest being 28. It’s so hard to imagine, isn’t it?February 26, 2016 – 3:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - This is a sweet and wise post. It must be the greatest thing in the world to watch a child you created grow and learn. I see it in my niece and nephews, but it’s not quite the same I reckon.
    Glad he is doing so well and that he knows to look both ways before crossing a street.
    Great prompt this week. Working on mine now, since I missed out on last week.
    🙂February 26, 2016 – 2:44 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OOH I look forward to reading yours for this week’s prompt, Kerry! I really liked it too. And it really is the greatest thing – watching him grow and learn. Sometimes, I just wish it happened more slowly ya know?February 26, 2016 – 3:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - I know. My little nephew starts JK this fall and none of us here can believe that.
    He’s still just so little and it’s almost impossible to imagine him going off to school on the bus every morning and being gone all day. My sister tears up when she has to face that fact, even just a little, and I felt the same when I went with her to drop off some of his registration papers the other day, at the school she and I attended as kids. He was sleeping, in his seat in the back of the car, but I was already picturing school plays and I wanted to run and hide and yet I can’t wait to one day see him in those performances.
    So many feelings.February 26, 2016 – 4:02 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh school plays and recitals and EVERYTHING like that always makes me cry. I’m pretty much a marshmallow. Also marshmallow is spelled weird I think. I always want to type an “e” rather than an “a.” I’ll bet your nephew is adorable.February 26, 2016 – 5:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Mo at Mocadeaux - I vividly remember that feeling of leaving the hospital with your baby thinking “how could these people send me home and trust me to care for this little person?” I was lucky enough to be at my daughter’s when she took her baby home from the hospital. I was able to reassure her that everything was going to be ok. “You’ve got this.” And she does.February 26, 2016 – 6:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It’s terrifying and exhilarating leaving the hospital. So surreal. I’m so glad that you got to be there when your daughter took her baby home. Love it.February 27, 2016 – 1:48 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - I’ d thought Alex would talk and I’d have finished my PHD by this age.February 26, 2016 – 7:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki - This is one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever read! I so love the time shifts between you and Tucker and then and now. So evocative. The dead hamster, the new guinea pig, the wrinkle cream (have you found a good one? I’m searching too!), and that pic of you oh! Heart squeezes. <3February 27, 2016 – 1:08 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks Nix! I just saw you linked up. Can’t wait to read it. This post is an editor’s pick on Discover from WordPress today! I’m so excited!
      Regarding eye creams, I use this Pro Heal vitamin C oil, Dermalogica’s skin smoothing cream and this Youth thing. I don’t know that they work though. I have wrinkles. But I’m old, too… so there’s that. Gah.February 27, 2016 – 1:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Your last graphic says it all. Better here and with wrinkles than not here.

    But if you find a great eye cream, please share it with me.February 27, 2016 – 1:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Maya - As I tell my mother and remind myself in the mirror everyday, cherish every wrinkle, you worked very, very hard for them. They show how you endured and still survived to grow stronger and wiser. They make you more beautiful to those that can see past the first layer.February 27, 2016 – 5:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I like that idea Maya – that we worked very very hard for each wrinkle. Here’s to the true beauty beneath the first layer. Thank you.February 28, 2016 – 5:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Olexy Olexiyovich - ))) +February 27, 2016 – 6:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Olexy Olexiyovich - ))) +February 27, 2016 – 6:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Denise Lett Horbaly - Your words take me back to my brown lunch bag, packed by my mama, adorned each day with a smiley face and X’s & O’s. The napkin note within was an added bonus! Moms everywhere instinctively wrap their love around their babies with even the smallest gestures like these you write about. The greatest gift is passing these traditions on to our babies. Lovely post…February 27, 2016 – 7:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Steve Auguste - I appreciate your genuineness and your word “himness”! I also enjoy how precious you make your son! I feel the same way about my son who’s 3 years old. I call him “Grandpa” because he acts like an old man. He usually gets undressed (takes off socks and shoes) as he sits at the back of his school bus. He’s working on putting the straw into the juice container though.February 28, 2016 – 12:01 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Steve! How cute that you call your son Grandpa! And the straw into the juice box thing? It’ll happen. Really. 🙂February 28, 2016 – 5:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Madison Prather - I adore this very much. My feelings are so similar in regards to my 5, almost 6 year old daughter. Her laughter and joy remind me of when I was her age and didn’t have a care in the world other than barbies and my friends. We all make it out okay in the end. Thank you.February 28, 2016 – 4:33 amReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Every time I read your posts, your words take me into my own life- my own paper aging wrinkled skin, and what lites beneath- my own dreams of what was and what is and all those tiny details that capture truths and moments I sometimes forget. Every time. Thank you for that. <3February 28, 2016 – 5:32 amReplyCancel

  • DrAjay Kumar Sharma - Amazing to read the wonderfully crafted life’s little gems. keep it up.February 28, 2016 – 9:16 amReplyCancel

  • Eve - I loved this post, you could have written what I am often thinking. So beautifully written.February 28, 2016 – 9:47 amReplyCancel

  • Alex Lielbardis - Optimism is a precious gem.February 28, 2016 – 10:14 amReplyCancel

  • - This is so honest and true! Great job!February 28, 2016 – 3:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Nathan - Absolutely love this post. Hits home and rings true!February 28, 2016 – 4:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Silvia Padrão - When I was young I thought I didn’t wanted to live further then 40. I thought 40 was sooooo old. the moment I became a mum I imedatly thought I wanted to live forever, by their side haha. Lovely post, thank you.February 28, 2016 – 8:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Tulika Singh - Your writing is beautiful – it makes me smile and cry at the same time. There are so many things I can identify with as a mom. It was just yesterday that my son had this ‘I can cross the road on my own’ argument with me. He’s so absent minded that I find it difficult to trust him. yet sonner or later I will have to. Sooner, says he, later say I. Sigh!February 29, 2016 – 7:34 amReplyCancel

  • Deb - Wow, I cried and cried over this post. Beautiful.February 29, 2016 – 10:43 amReplyCancel

  • Karna Tecla - Hold fast to those little memories and moments because they happen way too fast. My boys are going to be 30 and 32 this year. When we moved last year, I didn’t have time to go through the boxes of collected “important” stuff from their childhood: I think I saved every project and paper they did. I held my mother’s belief that they might want to go through the stuff at some point in their lives, and that it should be their responsibility to throw what they didn’t want away. I am finding that it doesn’t work that way. I took a picture of the “Lego” shield that I created to go on one of his Halloween costumes when he was a kid. I texted him a picture and asked him if he wanted it. I was taken aback when his response was “NO!”

    My response is to photograph the “important” stuff and make a digital photo album for each of them.February 29, 2016 – 12:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh no! He didn’t want the Lego shield? Boys. I love the idea of taking photos of all the important stuff and making a digital album. I take photos of my son’s school projects too (the ones that I can stand to toss that is!).March 1, 2016 – 11:11 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Godby - Thank you for expressing just how I’ve always felt! My kids are 5 and 3.5 and to this day I think back to snowy winter roads and never being afraid because my daddy was driving and I knew that he’d never wreck the car. Now I’m the mama behind the wheel screaming at myself internally to be extra careful on the roads, wondering if my kids feel the same way about me, or if they can see through my charade of adulti-ness. 🙂 By this age I thought I would… have gotten over abuses I suffered in the past, and be the non-existant super mama who crafts and doodles for her kids all day long while somehow performing rocket surgery simultaneously to afford the kidlets their every wanton desire… Thanks again for this post!February 29, 2016 – 3:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Lucy Acklam - What a beautiful piece, I showed this to my own mum, she loved it and said to me ”you’ll understand when you’re a mum luce”. So honest and relatable.February 29, 2016 – 9:10 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - Kristy,

    you don’t only write for yourself…
    You write for all humanity.

    xxx kiss from MN.February 29, 2016 – 9:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Twoshoestoomany - I love the way you write – honest and real.March 1, 2016 – 1:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Jamie Goulette-Mcclure - i hate my winkles but i love them at the same time !!! i also write little notes to my kids now via text lol where has the time gone not so little anymore dont really need me anymore breaks my heartMarch 1, 2016 – 6:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Tara Kranz - Loved loved loved this post!! I regularly blog about my son and how fast he is growing. He is only 11 months old, but as I read your post, I felt like I was already you… watching a boy who used to be a baby. Time goes so fast, too fast. I love the structure of this writing, the way it is not chronological. Excellent!March 1, 2016 – 8:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Laura Emm - What a beautifully written post. So heart warming to read. I love your description of the pain and pride we feel watching them grow up. You hit the nail on the head. What a fab idea to doodle on their napkins. Think I’ll have to pinch this idea for my twins lunch boxes xMarch 2, 2016 – 1:37 amReplyCancel

  • April Grant - I love that final quote. It’s so touching. I need to be more in touch with my children. I spend a lot of time with them, but I know I need to start that little love ritual that will last a lifetime.March 2, 2016 – 1:45 amReplyCancel

  • Laura Emm - I get the way one second you were a six year old girl, and then suddenly your son turned six! My twins start school in September and I feel the excitement for what they’ll become and achieve, conflicting with the fear of the years to come going just as fast as the ones that have gone by in what feels like the blink of an eye. You’ve described perfectly how most of us fellow parents feel about this xMarch 2, 2016 – 1:50 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Laura,
    Oh the time, it goes so so fast, right? Here’s to your twins ROCKING school, and you rolling with the time and seeing the growth and the moments as they happen (and not grieving them too much).March 3, 2016 – 12:27 amReplyCancel

  • Symone Traylor - This made me a little nostalgic, and I can absolutely relate. I love your optimistic perspective, thank you for your inspirational piece.March 3, 2016 – 5:23 amReplyCancel

  • Ellen Faye - Wow. This is the best post 😢 I cried. Our appearance may get old but or hearts will never be. ❤️March 4, 2016 – 3:43 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thank you thank you!!! It’s so true. Our hearts stay the same, don’t they? A little wiser maybe but still. <3March 24, 2016 – 8:25 pmReplyCancel

  • V.J. Knutson - Just finished tucking my granddaughter in an flashing back (teary-eyed) to tucking her mom in at this age. Life passes and yet lives on in our memories. Well documented!March 5, 2016 – 2:24 amReplyCancel

  • Bonita Snodgrass - Being Irish I was raised to cherish the story tellers. They document what we all feel, they keep magic alive, that inner spark that we can all lose without knowing it, until suddenly we grieve it’s absense. Wonderful essay.March 7, 2016 – 4:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Rosemond Perdue-Cranner - I’m with you, I started late, and start doing the math and just hope that I can be around for a very long time for my daughter!March 21, 2016 – 5:11 amReplyCancel

  • Ivy Walker - I always drew on lunch bags…straight up to college….i also suspect that when hes 75 and im in my 90s he will still be my little boyApril 14, 2016 – 8:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily Nichols Grossi - Beautiful!!!!!May 19, 2016 – 1:58 pmReplyCancel

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