The Tension of In Between

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"The tension of in between" by Merridith Frediani (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2016), CC0/PD

I’m caught in the tension of “what was” and “what will be.” With the nest almost empty, my role as a mother is evolving. As it should. If done well, I will parent myself out of a job. It’s not my place to hold too tight as a smother mother but to lead them to flight. My chicklets need to launch. If done right, they will become self sufficient, productive members of society, off our payroll and supporting themselves. They will make decisions, experience consequences, and live a good and faithful life.

I don’t want them to live in my house indefinitely. I want them to have families and friends and careers and experiences. I want them to life the life God planned for them. They should be able to navigate on their own with their parents as supporting cast. I don’t want to go back to intensive hands-on parenting. It’s tiring. Milestones of independence such as feeding oneself, walking, and driving, were greeted with joy by this mother. I was happy to let some of those tasks go.

But even though they are ready for the launch, I find myself wanting to hold on a little longer. It feels wrong, yet right to watch my daughter walk into the airport on her way back to college. It feels weird, yet normal, to watch my son via Find My Friends travel the country with his soccer team.

“What was” was good. It was hard and sticky and exhausting and full of smelly laundry but it was good. Raising children felt biologically right. For twenty years I have worn my mom badge proudly. I felt like I was running a marathon while juggling and it was good. It was so very good.

Now I’m still actively parenting but it is different. It’s slower. It’s a mental game. I see “what will be” up ahead, hoping it’s far away but knowing I’m speeding toward it. “What will be” includes less laundry and less running of the dishwasher. It means being more socially nimble. It involves learning some new activities and returning to old ones. It will be good. I believe that. But “what will be” isn’t here yet and “what was” is fading, so I’m in between, in an emotional back and forth of who I was and who I hope to become. This tension I’m feeling is change and while I know that I’m going from good to good, and that every year has been better than the previous (except 2013; that was a crummy year), it is still change.

Where is God in all of this? He’s next to me, reminding me that He never changes. My kids are moving on in their lives and it involves not living in my house anymore and God is still here. He’s not going anywhere. My kids will have families of their own, and God reminds me I’m always his daughter. I wonder how I will feel about all of it, and God gives me the grace to believe it is good.  I will always be their mother and God is steadfast and supportive. Without Him by my side, this would feel like an end.  With Him, it feels like evolution.


Copyright 2019 Merridith Frediani

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About Author

Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, tending to dahlias and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three teenagers. Her favorite part of the day is family dinner which sometimes doesn’t happen until 8:30 pm. She enjoys hanging out on the front porch and laughing with family and friends. Good Italian wine is a must.

2 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh! So beautiful! I have been an empty nester for a long time, but my daughter has a 10, 9, and 6 year old and I know she will love this article of yours! Thank you and God bless you. Although 2013 was my best year ever, I understand. We all have those years that were just horrible, but as you say, God is still always there! Your words were perfectly stated and I loved it!!

  2. Corinne Jones on

    With a 19 year old at university and a 16 year old with one foot out the door I am also in that ‘in between’ stage and feeling the same emotions that you describe here. I love how you see this time as not being an end but rather an evolution with God. I too will adopt your approach and embrace the days and years ahead with less sadness for what was and more hope and enthusiasm for a new phase of my journey through life with God by my side….

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