At What Point Did I Become Qualified for This?

In the past month, several friends have taken their babies to their first years of college, dropped them off in a dorm.

And another friend said a different goodbye, a farewell to her father who’d lived a long, happy life but battled cancer toward the end.

Launching adults. Burying parents. How did this become my life stage? And who deemed me qualified to enter it?

They tell you adulthood is hard. It’s not that I feel tricked. But I think I thought I’d at least feel ready for each new phase, much like I was in childhood when I was chomping at the bit for each new thing…for the chance to start staying up late, to start wearing makeup, to drive a car, to be in charge of my own self…

At what point did I switch from begging to do things because I was old enough to wishing I was younger and didn’t have to be so responsible? Wrinkles be damned—I just don’t want to have to remember to pay all the bills! 😉

Kelly Corrigan wrote a popular memoir called “The Middle Place.” I haven’t read it because, well, see above. But I don’t think I actually have to read it to know—this must be the middle place. I think I’m in it right now.

And it feels weird.

What I expected to be a peace and self-assuredness actually feels like a place in which the guitar strings are strung very, very tightly. It’s tighter and less spacious than I expected, and I hope I don’t sneeze because everything might snap (and I might leak a little…thanks, kids…)

I didn’t expect the middle place to be so tender.

This is a word I’m using a lot lately—tender. It’s how life feels. It’s how I feel. I feel tender about the speed with which time passes. I feel tender about my growing babies. I feel tender about my marriage, about the things I thought would be different by now and about the ways I regret some of my interactions even still.

I remember bringing Gabe home from the hospital and clinging to the unspoken belief—it’s hard now, but once we adjust and get it figured out, it’ll be easier.

I’m realizing that was never true in the first place.

So I’ve been thinking about what’s actually true, not just what platitudes I’ve believed all along. And I think it’s this.

What’s true is that I only have this moment. Right now. The past was the past and I can’t go back. The future will come whether I’m ready or not. All that’s true is right now.

Stay in present in the moment. Breathing through the struggles. Maybe the mess, the busyness, the confusion, the fun, the adventures, the overwhelm will all seem more manageable if I’m looking at them one moment at a time.

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