Handwritten by Mom

Meg with her mom on her first day of Kindergarten
Meg’s First Day of Kindergarten

My friend Meg recently posted a picture of her and her mother on her first day of Kindergarten. The picture was so sweet–you could tell it was from a different era. It was fun to see how her mom, and probably many other moms, dressed in the 80’s. Meg was holding her plastic Hello Kitty lunchbox, an icon of that decade.

And yes, pictures say a lot, but what really inspired me was what was written on the back of the photo. It was labeled “1986-1987 School Year” and said, “Sweet Meggie with her (very prego) proud Mama–first day of Kindergarten! Baby Hayley arrived a few weeks later!! Happy, loving family! Late August 1986,” complete with hearts in the exclamation points and important words emphasized with underlines. It touched my heart and inspired me to leave treasures like that for my children.

Back of the Photo
Back of the Photo

In this digital world with digital pictures and digital scrapbooks, we rarely even print out pictures much less write on and label the backs of them. Even in the few scrapbooks I have made, I often used stickers to label pictures or printed captions because my handwriting is “too messy.” When they are grown up and want to remember me, I want my children to have more than just the pictures. I want them to see my handwriting and let it take them back to their childhood. I want them to see my handwriting and know how much I loved being their mommy. I want them to see my handwriting and let it bring a smile to their faces!

So my goal is to break all the rules and even sometimes write on the back of pictures with a pen that isn’t even “photo-safe”! I’m not putting a lot of pressure on myself because believe me there are enough things on my to-do list. But a few times a year, I will stop and make sure that a few things have my handwriting on it, sloppy as it is!

I also really want to make a point to have more pictures that include me. Usually, I am the one behind the camera. Unless I make a point to include myself, entire events will be documented almost like I wasn’t there. And that is not the story I want to tell!

Meg’s mother passed away a couple of years ago, so it makes this picture and the writing on the back of it much more of a treasure. I know that it inspires Meg to be a better kindergarten teacher and encourages her when she needs it most. Wouldn’t her mom be thrilled to know that what she jotted down on that picture over 25 years ago is impacting moms today?

Here’s my picture from this year’s first day of school!

Waller Family

 And the back of it.

back of first day of school edit

Kathy Waller
Kathy is a Georgia girl who followed her surfer husband Chuck to the beaches of Jacksonville where she became mom to elementary-aged twins Sophie and Will, preschooler Lainey, and baby Henry! Stay at home mom and avid volunteer, Kathy truly believes in teaching her children to embrace the community, to depend on each other, and to serve one another. Kathy served for a decade in the Junior League of Jax and is in her third year serving on the executive board of the PTA where her children attend school. She is very active in her church, Neptune Baptist and has been involved in the MOMS Club of Jax Beach for over eight years. Kathy has learned so much in her career as a software consultant for Oracle, but is always amazed at the skills she has acquired as a mom and community volunteer. Kathy also enjoys running and completed her last marathon (#9) in 2011, but always wonders if she shouldn't just do another to have a good even 10 under her belt!


  1. Kathy: Your blog brought back memories of old photos I have from my grandparents and parents. Reading their hand writing at the time they were looking at a photo is priceless. From just before Sophia was born I have kept a journal and write in the book at various times, usually after a milestone moment. My handwriting is awful, but it was me at that moment writing from heart to head to pen to paper.
    Life can change at any given minute and I wanted to be sure she could read what was in my heart when she wasn’t looking. I think I will start adding photos.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Alex and I looked back at a few albums his Mom gave us when we started having kids and it was fantastic! You knew the occasion of the picture, who was there, and a little story surrounding it! It’s so fun and takes you right back to that moment in time!! I still print all of my kids pictures because I want them to have these same moments!

  3. Kathy, this is so sweet. I love the picture of your family and what you wrote. Thanks for reminding us that there is something very special about a handwritten note. Its why I don’t understand those preprinted lunch box notes I keep seeing on the Internet. Seriously?

  4. Oh my gosh. I am in tears. That is the sweetest post. That pic does mean soo much to me and I hope it will encourage other moms to record all the little details as well. I can’t wait to share with my family!!

    • Meg – I have receive lots of facebook comments and comments here. The picture is definitely already encouraging other moms! Thanks for letting me post about it. I know it is an emotional week for your family! Love you!

  5. Dear Kathy,
    I am Meg’s aunt and her mother Luanne’s sister. The picture and your comments surprised my heart with emotion. Like Andy Andrews writes in his Butterfly Effect book, everything we do impacts others. I have packed away so many of my sister’s pictures and cards. It is still too painful…3 years ago this Sunday. But I am glad this picture inspired you. I have my mother and mother-law’s handwriting on pictures. They are treasures. If anything, this teaches us all not to take others for granted and to record loving moments. Blessings, Cornelia Rappoport

    • Although, I never had the pleasure of meeting your sister I know what an inspiration she was to this community when she was living. It should be no surprise to you to know that even now she is inspiring us! What a blessing!

  6. Kathy, and indirectly- Meg, thanks for writing this!!!! This is just what I needed to inspire me to print out more pictures, and leave some handwritten words for the kids my self. Definitely one of my favorite blogs!!! Great seeing you the other day! Let’s get together soon!

  7. Oh my, when I saw this, it took my breath away! This is dear Luanne…the nurse who held my hand while getting a shot…as a teacher, for heavens sake! Timeless beauty, and gone too soon! Thanks for the reminder to cherish every day and to document the moments… Meg, your mom was one of a kind! <3


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