It’s taken me forever to figure out how to start this post. That’s nothing new, actually; ever since high school, I’ve hated writing introductions. They seem like such a waste of time to me. I’d much rather just get on with it, say what I need to say, and move on. Done and done.

This time it’s especially appropriate because all I can think about is the middle. The middle ground, the life we live in the gray because black isn’t black anymore and white isn’t white. I thought about it the other night, when my kids were fighting. Sure, they do it all the time and fighting is probably too strong a word for what they truly do, which is bicker, antagonize and purposefully annoy each other.

The words spilled out of me before I could stop them, even though I knew they’d be lost on my three. They were lost on me when I was their age and so annoyed with my sisters I couldn’t see straight. I heard the words and immediately dismissed them, thinking no one in their right mind would miss these annoying people who happened to share a gene pool and a home. Now I’m on the other side and I know those words were true.

I thought about it as I drove my oldest back to school tonight, a day earlier than I thought, at once angry and saddened that he was so anxious to not spend another evening with family. I remember those days. I remember how good it felt to be unencumbered and free, to not have to answer to anyone and to not have annoying younger siblings constantly in my space and in my face, reminding me of who they thought I was instead of letting me daydream about who I hoped to be.

But now, twenty-plus years later, I know that time with family is precious. I know how quickly the years fly by, and I know that time is sneaky and silent, especially when coupled with distance. I can see both sides, and I identify with each of them. So here I am, stuck in the middle between the two.

It’s a strange place to be. I’ve always been fairly certain about what I believe and what I feel my place is in life. Now, though, I feel a new sort of limbo. As a mom I’m transitioning from the elementary school years to junior high and college years. I marvel at their growth and at how much I love the people they’re growing up to be in the same minute I question who the hell I’ll be once all three are gone, off to college and starting their adult lives.

I’m there professionally, too. I’ve found a groove of sorts, writing for others to earn a living. I can see the next step, but it’s a scary step and it’s an unknown and as badly as I want it I don’t know that I have the talent, the drive, the energy or even the words to go after it. So I linger in the middle, comfortable but not satisfied, wondering what might be.

I’m definitely there romantically. One too many bad choices along the way and the middle seems pretty damn good compared to suiting up and trying again. Because chances are my picker is still broken and life is better with a good bottle of red and a book I just can’t put down than it is hanging out with a boring ‘Mr. Right Now’ and finding ways to patch yet another crack in a beaten-down heart when eyes wander and affections turn cold.

Limbo is defined as ‘a region on the border of heaven and hell’ if we’re using the Catholic reference or ‘a place or state of oblivion to which persons or things are regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past or out of date.’ Both definitions sound harsh for what is probably just a natural progression of a life veering into middle age, but it does beg the question: which side of the middle is heaven and which side is hell?

I’m so mired in the middle I don’t even know.

Linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary for #justwrite 118.