What Scares Me Most…

Before I got my teaching credential, at my husband’s insistence, I spent some time working as a substitute teacher. One day, while working in a kindergarten classroom I heard a voice outside my head say what, up until that point, had only said inside my head.


I paused, looked up from the group of adorable kindergarteners sitting at my knees and made eye contact with the speaker.



Huh, that’s what I thought she said.

She made some hand motions and gave directions on how I could correct what I was doing.

I turned the book upside down from where it was and like magic, right.


The important part of this story is the absolute absurdity of that sentence being said to me out loud by another adult.


And yet, in the moments right before I fall asleep these days, this exact thought is whispered in my own head.



Apparently, I’m afraid I’m going to do it wrong with Ruby.

In my rational brain, I can clearly see this isn’t true. I know there isn’t a wrong way or a right way. There are just ways that work today and those that don’t. Things that work better for some kids and things that totally don’t work for that kid (and so you stop).

But it’s not my rational brain telling me YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. 

I’m pretty sure this is my inside voice, the one I’m not even clear who it belongs to.


The other night in yoga class, Michelle, talked about the concept of satya or truth. What is true for your body today? What stories does your inner voice tell you? In other words, what kind of shit talking goes on about your limits or fears?

She said something about how the ego/bully voices are loud, aggressive and mean. The voice of truth is soft and kind, like a friend’s voice.

If you would like to listen (or play with idea for yourself, you can listen here).


So here’s the deal on the comments today. I’m going to ask for what I need and what I don’t.

What I need: Please share how you talked yourself off this particular ledge – the abject fear of DOING IT WRONG. If you haven’t gotten off there, share that too. Knowing other people are afraid of the same things makes me less afraid.

Or you can simply tell me what scares you most.

What I don’t need: Reassurances that I’ll be a good mama, that’s not the issue, it’s the FEAR I’d like to address.

9 thoughts on “What Scares Me Most…

  1. Becoming a parent is one of the scariest things you can ever do. The reality of them – even versus the thought of them is even more daunting. The little buggers don’t come with instruction manuals (I’m still looking for Gracie’s 6 years after having her!) so you have to let yourself do the best you can every day. Some days you’ll do better than others. Other days, you’ll ask yourself “what the hell was I thinking?” But the reality is that nothing big ever comes without some big risk. And the rewards of being a parent are HUGE. Just wait till Ruby looks you in the eye and says “I wuv you Mommy.” And here’s the best part – the best parents I know are the ones who were the most fearful of it. Thinking it’s possible for you to know everything is a recipe for disaster. And remember that you’re in the same boat as millions of other parents who don’t know what the hell we’re doing.

  2. I love this. And I love all these responses. Because they’re all so RIGHT.

    You will never *not* have fear if you are being a good mom. Parenthood and fear go hand in hand. Having a fear of doing it wrong means you want with all your heart to not fuck it up. That’s a good thing. It’s people who don’t have that fear who raise messed up kids, sadly for the kids. Granted, of course, your daughter will have free will. And her own personality. And at like 2.5 or 3 she might be total pyscho and even if you do every thing so right that someone wants to write a book about you, it will still feel like you’re doing it wrong. So, how do you cope with it? You own it and embrace it and realize it’s part of doing it right and you wing it and you realize your kid is kinda like a guinea pig because there *is* trial and error involved and you know that pretty much, even though there will be days that SUCK and you will be like, what the hell did I get myself into, it’s still the best thing in the world and you’re giving it your best shot which will be a really good thing. And you talk to your friends and your hubby and you cry and all that stuff, too.

  3. Yes, I have had that fear for 18 years and I wish I could say it has gone away but as the girls have grown, it seems there has been a never ending stream if new fear-inspiring issues. Plus, after 18 years, I can look back and confirm that I WAS doing it wrong much of the time. Still, the girls have grown up to be pretty wonderful in spite of me. I try to put it in perspective and realize how lucky I am to have my family, just the way they are and I am. Despite mistakes, I wouldn’t go back to make ANY changes that might mess with that.

  4. i often wonder what’s *right*?? doesn’t that depend on 5000 things that i have no control over? if i can’t even pin down the ‘right’ thing, how am supposed to know how to do it? (or in some cases, the “right” thing is just “love”… and that’s an easier goal than Right.)

    i also think back to a talk that i heard ajahn amaro give once where he talked about how westerners get all caught up in “the right choice/thing.” the buddhist view is that there is no “right” — there are just different ways/options. instead of stressing about the One Right Way (which doesn’t exist), they approach it from a ‘try it and see’ angle. maybe one way works for a bit, and then you need to change. or maybe it doesn’t work and you make a different decision later. it’s not a big shameful thing… it’s just how life goes.

    also – re-read “the effort effect” from tt.


  5. My constant fear is that I’m doing it wrong, and what really scares me is that I’m think I’m right sometimes! This is primarily with child rearing…I have an 8 year old who, bless her little heart, is quite chunky (I still don’t say ‘fat’)…just like I was, and am. I constantly worry about her self esteem, am I focusing too much on it, am I not focusing enough on it? I was beyond broken as a child/teenager because of my ongoing fight with my weight…and my mother’s obvious disatisfaction with me about it. So I’m hyper sensitive about screwing up my beautiful little girl. When I try to talk myself off the ledge…I remind myself that I focus on “health” and not weight loss. I focus on being active…but I still remember the look in my mother’s eyes…and I feel like I’m watching myself now when I look at my daughter….hoping that the only look in my eyes is of understanding.

  6. My fear is that life is flying right by and I don’t have “enough” to show for it. That I haven’t tried hard enough. To do what, I can’t even tell you for sure, but the feeling is always there!

  7. If you don’t do it for fear of doing it wrong, you’ll never learn how to do it right.

    I am terrified right now of starting a career as a freelancer. Of course, I could still turn back, but to admit I was wrong about choosing this career is almost as terrifying as going forward. What if I get rejected…I mean, what will I do WHEN I get rejected? My husband’s new job pays the rent and bills (which is why I even chose freelance in the first place) but my income will determine when if ever we’ll be able to afford a house or kids. That is a lot of pressure.

    I don’t have the answers yet, but you are not alone in being scared. I bucked up and sent my first query to a non-paying website this week, and so far so good. But I haven’t gotten myself an ounce of new business yet. In time. In time.

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