Guest Post: Dana of Kiss My List, on Greatest Fears of Motherhood

photo credit: bobsfever via photopin cc
photo credit: bobsfever via photopin cc

Sometimes, the list-makers and project doers of the world are kind of like the baloney sandwiches in the deli of life.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Baloney sandwiches are staples. And Lord knows we need staples. Staples stand for stability and the very stuff that keeps the earth spinning on an axis and not into the ether.

Thing is, Dana, author of Kiss My List blog, is a list-maker. A project do-er.

But she also got a cup and a half of that bold, disruptive spice that puts a lot of color in bland spreadsheets. She’s like that grab-bag of toys at the dollar store, only the surprise you get when you rip open the staples isn’t busted pieces of dollar-store toys no one wanted to buy in the light of day.

It’s a gem.

She’s the Broadway nerd that doesn’t just blog about Broadway – she tells you how life would work if it were a Broadway play. She’s puffy vest and long-sleeved chic mama look, but also Ray Bans with a black dress kind of girl.

Today, she’s shown her poignant, reflective side as she tells us her greatest fears of motherhood. Dana said she probably wouldn’t have written on this had I not asked her to for Coach Daddy.

I suspect she would have, though. I’d even bet a sandwich on it.

And I don’t mean baloney.

Welcome Dana today, and be sure to check out her blog, too.

# # #

photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc
photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc

When I was pregnant with my second child, I bought a piece of wall art with the quote:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

How true. I have two hearts outside of my body, and they have made the one beneath my rib cage larger and fuller. They’ve also made my hips and abs fuller, but that’s not where I’m going with this.

The world is a big place. It can be a dangerous place. And I can’t protect those hearts with a rib cage and skin, or with exercise and healthy eating. Those hearts are vulnerable, and they make my inside heart more vulnerable too.

Like most mothers, I worry about my kids.

I have generalized fears such as health and safety. I have smaller worries like school performance and peer relationships. My heart can handle these worries, but there are some fears that I just cannot visit. The death of my child is one of those, and I won’t give that fear any more thought than this sentence. I lock it up, and focus on the smaller worries that I may have some control over.


My mind protects itself; it doesn’t often let the fear go deep. I will not let myself be swallowed by it; I will not let fear take precedence over living. Yet every so often, when my mind relaxes a bit, the fear burrows in and squeezes my heart.

Besides the fear that will not be mentioned again, these are three of my deepest fears as a mom.

1. A fear of doing everything right, but it still won’t be enough. Not every kid who gets involved with drugs and alcohol comes from a dysfunctional home or has negligent parents. Mental illness affects even picture perfect families. We raise them as best we can, but the rest is up to them. Even more frightening are the parts that aren’t up to them. No matter how tightly I have hugged my children and loved them and nurtured them, I have to relinquish control to them and to life. That lack of control fuels my fear.

photo credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via photopin cc
photo credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via photopin cc

2. A less intense but more amorphous fear of my children growing up. They need me less and less every year, and in less than three years my oldest will go off to college. I won’t see her everyday; I won’t know what she’s wearing or eating for dinner, or who she’s spending time with. This child who I nursed, diapered, fed and raised for eighteen years will no longer be present in my daily life. That simultaneously terrifies me and brings me to tears. How will I release my heart into the world? Will she come back to me?

3. That unanswered question brings me to my third fear. Once my children are independent adults (please be Independent, that’s fear 3.5), what will our relationship be like? Will they want to spend time with me, or will visits with Mom be a chore to be tolerated?  And then spouses enter the mix, specifically with my son –  will he marry a woman who supports his relationship with his parents? I would like to believe he would not marry someone who doesn’t love his family, but I’ve seen it happen, and it scares me.

There. I’ve acknowledged my fears, and given them a voice. I may revisit them from time to time, but I will not let their voice be the loudest one in my head. I will not let them crowd out the I love yous and the laughter. I will not let them steal any of my time spent with my outside hearts.

97 thoughts on “Guest Post: Dana of Kiss My List, on Greatest Fears of Motherhood

  1. I LOVE it when my favorite bloggers team up! So glad to see Dana in the game here today. I’m glad I’m on the West Coast tonight so I can comment right away! Not that I’m competitive or anything…
    Dana, this is beautiful and honest. It speaks perfectly to every mother’s heart. My girls are younger than your children, but I already have many of the same fears. I think, I’ve got years before they grow up and move away and start families of their own. But then I look back and see how quickly the first years went, and I want to slam on the brakes. I think of how excited my girls are when they walk through the door at the end of the day. I know they won’t always be that excited to see me, and it breaks my heart. But, like you, I’m not going to dwell on those fears. Instead, I’m going to embrace them every time they run through the door and tell them I love them and cherish each sweet moment.

    1. Just once, I want someone to say, “I hate when a favorite blogger posts with one that I can’t stand.” Then, we can try and figure out which one is the hated.

      I think you and Dana have this great appreciation of the present that overcomes your fears, and you seem to do a stellar job of keeping things in perspective.

    2. That’s what we have to do – live in the moment so we don’t allow the fears to get in the way of living. I’m glad my piece spoke to you, Nicole.

  2. Awesome, awesome, awesome post! My oldest son moved out of the house about 6 months ago, and while it is agonizing for mom, I am so proud of the young man that he is. He works full time, pays his bills, and hangs with friends, but I am blessed that he pops in to visit a few times a month, and with his friends too. I pop by his facebook every so often, just to tell him that I love him or send him a text to make sure all is well, especially on a day like today when snow and bad weather hit our area. These are some of the little things that I do, just to remind him that I am here no matter what. My two youngest, I am still keeping those fears mentioned at bay, as I still have a few more years to keep them close, but with prayer I will hope for it all! Thank you so much for sharing and have a great week!

    1. So your nest has started to empty, Stacey, and it sounds like you’ve raised some great kids. It’s hard to let them go, but that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Thanks for reading!

  3. Eli, thank you for lending your space today to Dana so she could speak such powerful words.

    I think these fears are ones that most parents hold deep in their hearts. I hate that we can’t just live in a Utopian bubble where everything stays perfect. The thought of Malone leaving the nest makes me heartsick.

      1. I agree Eli – I’m thankful everyday that my children are safe under my roof. But as you said, NJ, the thought of them leaving the nest and not being responsible for their safety makes me heartsick too.

  4. Oh Dana I can so relate and my boys are only 4! I think all GOOD moms have these fears and the lack of control is what often fuels them. I’m particularly fearful for a lot of reasons b/c I lost my mom to cancer when I was 17. I’m desperately afraid of “leaving” my kids and I’m also afraid of that adult relationship since I never had one with my own mom past my teen years. I’m sure we’ll both figure it out, and none of our deepest fears will come to pass, but it doesn’t mean they’re not hiding in the backs of our minds. Thank you for sharing and brining them to light…just for a moment. Now – back to the laundry 🙂

    1. For what it’s worth, Allie, I think that relationship you’ll form with your kids when they’re grown up is more a case of who you are now with them than anything you didn’t know in your own life, if that makes sense.

    2. As Eli said, your adult relationship with your sons will be built on your relationship now, and on who they will be as they grow up. It’s hard to picture now, when they are so young, but one day you’ll look at the two men you’ve raised and wonder where the time went. And you’ll be very proud, I’m sure. Now go back to the laundry, where you have total control!

  5. Oh Dana, my kids are still small, but I worry a lot about so many of these including as much as I am here and do will it truly be enough. I have to hope and pray now that it will be, just like I know you are doing all you can, too. And the thought of my kids growing up and not being around or needing me as much totally makes me sad and seriously I don’t want this too happen here too quickly either. Thanks for sharing and so happy to see you guest posting here today 🙂

    1. We can only do what we can do, Janine – as hard as it is to live with the uncertainty of the future. You still have years to go, so just enjoy those little girls!

  6. I have the crazy irrational fears of my children being injured, too, but I worry about #3 a LOT. Especially since I have boys and it seems like boys are never as close to their parents as girls are (at least not in my family). Will I get to be involved with my grandkids? Will they come visit when I’m old? Ahh… crazy thoughts to be having when your kids are only 3.5 and 6 months, huh?

    1. I get it, Sarah. I worry about #3 more with my son too. I feel like so much depends on his future wife. But my husband is one of three boys, and they all are close to my in-laws. Of course they all married fabulous women, but still. 🙂

  7. I worry needlessly – way into the future. Christopher is nine years old and won’t be a driver for how long? The neighborhood we live in needs a traffic light to make a left turn. It is getting worse and I worry about if there’s still no light years from now when he’s driving. Why do we do that to ourselves? I love that proverbs quote. I need to put THAT on my wall. The no traffic light is only one of my many worries.

    1. That’s not a needless worry – I’d either start to lobby now for that traffic light, or set the rule now that you turn right only there, and reinforce safety over convenience. I’d totally do that.

    2. Oh, Kenya – my daughter starts driver’s ed next week. I am terrified. That’s a fear I can’t bury deep; I can only hope it subsides or I will be spending the rest of my life holding my breath when she leaves the house.

  8. I think these are all natural fears that most moms (& dads) have – I know I do! I think a lot about what/who my girls will be as adults. Will they be good people? Successful people? Happy people?? Will they still be glad that I’m their mom?? We want them to grow up and be independent, yet we don’t really want to “let them go.” And that unspoken fear of which we will not speak – I have that one, too.

    1. Ever notice that the plate of food you love you most fear spilling (or is this just me?) I don’t worry about spilling broccoli, but I’m extra careful with pulled pork sandwiches.

      Seriously, though, we fear like this because what we’re dealing with is the most precious things on earth.

  9. Dana at Eli’s place! I’m so happy!!
    I worry..a lot..and I worry even more that my heart cannot take it. Any of it. I also think way into the future about having a son and how everyone says that sons just go with their wives’ families.
    Although Cassidy’s four parents (step-re-marriages) are local and of course we see them often, and I support any and all relationships there.
    So there is hope. Don’t leave me, Des!!

    1. There is hope for us, as mothers of sons. I feel the same way. I can’t imagine my son being more involved in his in-laws lives than in his own parents. All we can do now is love our boys and hope they won’t move too far away. And our girls – they should stay close too.

  10. So awesome to come over here and see Eli and Dana today!!!
    Dana, I can totally relate to your fears! My biggest fear is that one of my boys will end up with cancer – I would 100x rather it be me than anyone else in my family.
    And, the fear that you won’t mention again has hit very close to my family recently and I can’t even pretend to put myself in that mom’s (and dad’s) shoes!!!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Kim – I hope everything is okay. I can’t even imagine either – I can’t let myself imagine. It would be paralyzing.

    2. I wish we could absorb all those blows, great and small, that will befall our kids … but its in those battles they’ll learn and grow. That’s so hard to accept.

  11. great post, and fears can be paralyzing, so you just have to try to move past them, and fully enjoy things as best you can. as a mother, who became single, i did many things wrong, i worried something would happen to my daughters and also that they wouldn’t need me anymore when they grew older. i can say that somehow we all survived, whatever i did and did not do, and they are all grown now and we are closer than ever. ) enjoy it all – beth

  12. Dana so glad to see you here at Eli’s today. I think as mothers so many of us share the same fears. I know I do on all of yours. My biggest one has always been the one that you don’t want to mention again but I saw my Grandmother go through this and I suppose that’s why it’s number one on my list. My mother died when I was 3 and it has to be the worst thing any mother can possibly go through. My grandmother never ever got over the loss of her daughter.
    My youngest son who is now 21 went through the drug thing. Luckily he is fine now but we had a tough go at it for about a year or so with him. My twins are 25 now and we’ve gone through the empty nest thing except now the nest is almost full again 🙂 The twins are back living at home and my youngest is the one that is out on his own. I actually look forward to the day that the nest is empty again. I never thought that they’d be living or wanting to live at home as long as they have.
    Before I take up too much more space here I just want to say to you how much I enjoyed reading your post today even though it was of a more serious nature, and to thank Eli for this too.

    1. Susan, I’m so sorry you lost your mom at such a young age. And your grandmother – I can’t even imagine. I’m glad your youngest is doing well now,and that you visited today and shared your own thoughts.

    1. I try everyday to enjoy the journey Lizzi. It’s not always easy, but then again it’s not for anyone. Thank you for visiting me here. xoxo

  13. Oh Dana, I can so relate to all of those!! Especially #3. #3 is the scariest one for me. And your fear that you didn’t talk about in the beginning…that is the worst thing I can ever possibly imagine.

  14. Awesome post Dana, I think I’m safe when I say we all share those fears for our children. I call them my ‘worry list’ sometimes there is more, sometimes less, but there is always a list!

  15. Oh my…..what fears we all have that you put right out THERE for us to realize we are not alone in any of them. Even the one that must never be named. I think #1 may be the hardest, because you are so right in that even doing everything you can some things are unexplainable. No parent thinks geez I hope my kid is a drug addict, they do everything to make sure it doesn’t happen then it tragically does. But I think the foundation of I LOVE YOUs will weigh heavily in your favor and get you through fears 2-1million

    1. I think you are right, Kerri. The I love yous make the fears fade into the background, so I say them often. Accompanied by hugs and kisses, because my kids will still let me.

  16. Hi Eli! Great post, Dana! I have to say that these are legitimate fears. Most people fear these very things. I have to say though that most people know it’s not possible to do everything right, but even if what we do wrong isn’t the reason, once our children are adults, there is a chance that what we taught them won’t stick in the sense that they are their own individuals with free will do what they wish. 😦 Sounds said when you think of it that way, but my faith definitely keeps me from fearing many of these things. I’ve only thought about death of my kids when I’ve watched movies about it happening to others…and then, I decided not to watch movies like that anymore because just seeing it happen to someone else makes my eyes well up…even writing this is getting me started. Ahh!

    1. I teared up quite a bit while I was writing this post, Brittnei. Our kids do have free will, and I just pray that mine will use theirs wisely. I give them all the tools they need and it’s up to them to use them. It’s that whole letting go of control…so hard.

  17. I have these same fears, Dana. I think a lot of us moms do. I try not to worry too much, but that worry is natural I think. I just try to be the best mom I can and hope/pray for the best!

    1. Is it wrong that I’m happy I made you cry, Ashely? Just because that means it struck a chord with you. I’d hate to see you unhappy.

    1. That’s one I think about more as my kids get older. But I’m close to my parents, and my kids see that, so I can only hope that it will be the same for us.

  18. I can so relate 100% to those fears that even when I was reading this I had to block them from completely setting up camp in my heart and mind! But you put it perfectly. They are the fears of any good parent and you must focus on the every day. Mine are 6 and 9yo, and I worry if we’re doing enough ALL the time – or are we doing TOO much! It’s a delicate balance not to be overprotective, or overly lenient. I’m happy you wrote this, though. It’s good to know others have these same fears/doubts.

    Thanks, Eli, for having her on your blog!

    1. It does help to know someone else has the same feelings – we can’t parent in a vacuum. We need other moms and dads to make us feel we aren’t alone, and that we aren’t totally screwing up our kids. Thanks for visiting me here, Beth! I’ve seen lots of friendly faces at Eli’s place.

  19. I am WITH you on #3! I feel like the saying “a daughter is a daughter all her life; a son is a son until he takes a wife” is pretty true. Of course I want my son to grow up and be independent and find love and have his own family… but the idea of him not needing me is horrifying!

    One of my major fears is that my son won’t feel comfortable being honest with me. I’m sure there will be times he won’t be completely honest about who he’s hanging out with or what he’s doing… but what if he has some kind of major internal struggle? I hope he feels able to confide in me.

    Great post! I can’t wait to check out your blog!

    1. I love that when we drive in the car, the girls always seem to be comfortable bringing up any topic at all … I hope that never ends.

      Caroline, you’re going to love Dana’s blog, and Dana, you will love Caroline’s, too. I hang out only with the best, you know.

    2. I feel similarly about my son, Caroline. I just hope that he would confide in me or my husband. He’s 12 now so I’m sure in the adolescent years Dad will be his go-to guy, and that’s okay. And Eli – I’m honored to be in such great company.

      1. There are going to be some things he’ll want to go to dad with, I predict, but others that only a mom will understand. How awesome that he’ll have the choice.

  20. dana, all of your fears are completely legitimate. i applaud you for not giving your fears as much a voice as most people do (i definitely tend to wallow in fear more than i should). you know how much i want a son, but my biggest fear with having a son is that he will leave me once he has his own family. that’s always the way it is! my husband has 3 sisters and they all live near his family in arizona. he’s the one who moved away and is now with me, and closer geographically to my family.

    1. Don’t tell me that, Catherine – I want my son to be the exception! But as Eli says, I plan on plopping myself in between my kids – hopefully they won’t end up on different coasts.

  21. Although I’m counting the days for my children to be independent and get out into the world, I also wonder if I’m properly equipping them to face the world. I would love to see them grow up, happy, successful, and out of my house, but I think my lack of sleep is clouding my judgment. Thanks for linking up with Turn it Up Tuesday!

    1. April – you nailed the worry here. How will they do without us? Heck, how will *we* do without *them*? Glad to link it up with Turn It Up Tuesday, only partially because it helped me remember yesterday was Tuesday and not Wednesday.

      I think Wednesday should be nap day, actually. And free tacos.

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