Growing Together: Out of the Box


growing togetherI am so excited today to bring you the words of Dana from Kiss My List for our next Growing Together story. Her words are lovely and her story of growth is one I can completely related to – seeing your actions reflected in your children and using that as motivation to grow. Happens to me all the time and Dana captures the feeling of it so perfectly.

Also? I met Dana last weekend at BlogU14, and it feels pretty amazing to have her here today as not just a blogger I know on the internet but a friend I’ve shared a meal with!

Enjoy Dana’s story and be sure to visit her at Kiss My List!


I am my father’s daughter. That’s what my mother always told me when I was growing up. I was like Dad, approaching life in a logical, rational manner. I was guided by my thoughts rather than my emotions, just like he was.

And while I was a bright child, I was not prone to metacognition, so I accepted that succinct description of me. Dana is the thinker, the planner. She makes decisions with her head, not her heart.

I’m still a thinker and a planner. But my heart is now a mother’s heart, and it has as much influence as my head. As my husband and I have been raising our children for the past sixteen years, I have stepped out of that box that I put myself in so many years ago.

Everything used to be black and white, right and wrong. I made a decision and it was written in stone. Now I can put myself in another’s shoes, and I can see the gray. Changing my mind does not make me weak; it makes me flexible and open to better possibilities.

I used to argue for the sake of arguing. I defended my point of view to the bitter end. Now I consider what I want the outcome to be. Why fight to the end if it is going to be bitter? If it’s something worth fighting for, I fight for it. If it’s not, I let it go. Winning an argument doesn’t make me right.

I used to think being right was the goal. Now I know that isn’t always the case. [Tweet “Sometimes being kind is more important than being right.”]

I used to think an apology made everything better. Now I realize that words cannot be taken back. Apologies can be made, but it’s better to not say the words in the first place. I’m not always successful, but now I try to think before I speak. Choosing words carefully means less apologies are needed.

I see my children looking at the world similarly to the way I used to view it. It’s not uncommon for children to engage in all-or-nothing thinking, or to believe that “I’m sorry” is contrition enough. It’s often a child’s way of seeing this confusing and complex world, and making sense of it. Yet as I saw these traits in my own two children, I recognized that they were both mirroring me. Seeing these behaviors reflected back at me motivated me to change. The strategies that I believed served me well as a child and young adult were no longer what I strove for. I’ve outgrown my box, and I am growing alongside of my children.

I am my father’s daughter, but he too has grown. And while he may disagree, I give much of the credit to his grandchildren.


kiss my listIā€™m Dana, the slightly obsessive writer behind the blog Kiss my List. I traded a lucrative career in school counseling to stay home and raise two brilliant and well-adjusted children. Now that they are teenagers, I have time to write in between the sports practices and homework drama. My blog is like a coffee date with that friend who makes you laugh, gives sound advice, and will tell you when you have lipstick on your teeth. My tag line, “Wake up, Be Amazing, Repeat Daily,” sums up my outlook on life. Whether I achieve that amazing-ness on a daily basis is another matter entirely. Come visit me at, or connect on Twitter (@kissmylist) or Facebook (


  1. You hit it out of the park with this one Dana! OMG. I was reading and nodding my head. Even at 5, I can see my kids reflecting myself back to me and it’s not always pretty. The ways in which kids can change us are ENDLESS! You captured this so brilliantly and I adore all the pictures at the end…even though I have seen them before šŸ™‚ GREAT POST!
    Allie recently posted..VITA AdVentures Abroad: World Championship Duathlon, SpainMy Profile

    • Thank you Allie! You’re right; it’s not always pretty. But sometimes it is, and my heart is happy when I see GOOD things about my kids that I know they learned from me. It’s even happier when I see good things in me that I learned from my kids.
      Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  2. When my was was about 3, I was taking to a friend. My daughter was going through a tough stage and I was so very frustrated. My friend said, “You know why she drives you so crazy, don’t you?” I excitedly anticipated her magical epiphany of an answer. “It’s because she’s just like you,” was my friend’s response. I have always remembered that and, though I didn’t see it then, I have definitely seen it since then. Hopefully, we are both growing and changing for the better these days.
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted..What’s in Your Fridge??? {Tuesday Ten Linkup}My Profile

    • My daughter and I are so much alike, and that’s why we clash so much of the time. I was like that with my father too. But even though I see it, I can’t seem to prevent the head butting. Maybe after adolescence…
      Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  3. Dana, I can tell you right now that growing up I totally was my father’s daughter and would think before I spoke and always want to be right. It is funny as you age and especially after being coming a parent how your perspective on things definitely does change. I truly know always try my best to think before opening my mouth (less open mouth insert foot going on here) and don’t have to apologize nearly as much either. And like you not only have I grown, but my own dad has, as well. Wonderful post and you said a mouthful here for sure!
    Janine Huldie recently posted..The Pin It Party ā€“ Week 57My Profile

  4. Thanks, Janine. I’m a foot-in-mouth gal myself, but it does happen much less often as I’ve gotten older!
    Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  5. You nailed it Dana! I know I still have a long way to go but I see how my kids mirror me in some ways and I am slowly changing and growing with them, because I want to set a good example for them.
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  6. I love reading this because it reminds me of Friday night when the three of us were all standing around those tall tables at the cocktail party and I just kept looking at you two and grinning.
    We all met!
    Ok, back to the actual topic at hand. I think when I see Des like me, it annoys me! And then I think I shouldn’t be annoyed to see myself reflected back. I really should think more highly of myself, actually. He’s a great kid. If I have even a fraction of something to do with that, I’m happy.
    Like when he stands on tables at potlucks, screams and stuffs brownies in his mouth?
    That’s me.
    Tamara recently posted..Love is a Battlefield.My Profile

  7. Gorgeous, Dana. I love the choice to be kind rather than being right. I, too, used to be a big arguer but now? Most of the time – I’m not. Because kindness. Friendship. Commonality. Love this post and HI to both of you! Here’s to growing with our children, and to our parents growing alongside us.
    Kristi Campbell recently posted..Our Land – The Broken PeopleMy Profile

  8. wow…what a great post…made me sniffle a bit. I am writing a letter to my dad for FTSF and boy, I am just like him…temper and stubbornness. Then is astounds me that my son shows how similar he is to me…
    karen recently posted..Our Healthy Meal PlanMy Profile

  9. Choosing battles and learning that parents don’t always have to be right were definitely lessons we learned as our kids grew up. And, like your dad, we are way different people now that we are grandparents!
    Mo at Mocadeaux recently posted..How My Fitbit and I MetMy Profile

  10. So it’s not just him? I love seeing the little changes in him – out of the four grandparents I think he’s grown the most!
    Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  11. This is really beautiful. It can be so easy to get stuck in a box. I’m guilty of that sometimes, never really seeing what’s around me. So important to step out of it, especially when parenting. Loved this!
    Jenny recently posted..It’s a Mama Blog Swap!My Profile

  12. This is awesome Dana…such a good lesson to learn. I’m striving to do better. I need to learn how to pick my battles better.
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted..Women Entrepreneurs: Are You Ready to Launch a New Business?My Profile

  13. Dana – so well written and I can relate to this 100%. You even have one of my favorite sayings by Wayne Dwyer in there. I am also my father’s daughter, practical and logical but things change.
    Tara Newman recently posted..How to Gain Focus For The Week AheadMy Profile

  14. Uh oh – I didn’t realize I inadvertently quoted him! But I’m glad you could relate, Tara.
    Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  15. I want to be like you when I grow up, Dana. Your kids are a lucky lot. And you’re absolutely beautiful. Love the dancing picture.

  16. I think it’s amazing how parents grow and mellow out. This reminds me of my young mom who raised me and my brother as a teenager, at first, but then I got to see how she had changed and grown when my sister came around when I was 12. She had done it for 12 years already so she was a bit more mellow like you explain you have become in some areas. Thanks for sharing more of you, Dana!
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  17. 1. I do see me in my girls. I wonder how much is because of me and how much is Mother Nature’s sense of humor.

    2. Apologies. I love your wisdom here. I often think of hateful words as nails in a board. You can remove the nails from the board, but the hole will always be there. I want my girls to think about what they say before they say it.

    3. Did you ever imagine we’d learn and grow like this just by being parents? I’m a better man because of my kids than I ever was. Such a great post full of so much insight. You really nailed it, Dana.
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..Go Ask Daddy About Bus Gas, Lost Lobes and Political AmmunitionMy Profile

    • Thanks, Eli. Like nails in a board – that’s a great analogy for hateful words. So true. And no, I never imagined parenthood would be so good for me. It’s just one of the many unexpected lovely surprises.
      Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  18. Love this. And that you now see the greys, and are so intensely aware of yourself and your impact on your children.

    I’ve seen me reflected back, on occasion, in the children I’ve looked after, or in Niece and Neff. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes a bit shocking, but they are like little mirrors into the parts of ourselves we might rather not admit to.

    A gorgeous post and REALLY gorgeous photo series. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
    Considerer recently posted..Ten Things of Thankful #52My Profile

    • Thanks, Lizzi. Children are like little mirrors – sometimes we like the reflections and sometimes we don’t. Either way, it’s humbling to see this little people create themselves in part from what they see in us.
      Dana recently posted..Out of the boxMy Profile

  19. This was beautiful Dana and really makes me stop and think. This is a lesson I need to work harder on learning or applying and accepting. Sometimes I get all caught up in the details of the thing that I don’t see…it really isn’t that important. I love Eli’s comment as well…well said, and the nail comparison is right on.
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