Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Life in the Middle

I realized recently that I’d been living — for a long time — in the middle.

Perhaps the opposites of both “happy” and “sad” are, in both cases, numb, lifeless, middlehood.

I have had a job that is okay for about 4 years now.  It’s not good.  It’s not bad.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My days, otherwise, are not active.  They’re not entirely sedentary.  They’re somewhere in the middle.

My clothes, shoes, handbags and other girly things are not extravagant.  They’re not meager.  They’re somewhere in the middle.

I am not too fat.  I am not too skinny.  I am somewhere in the middle

I don’t get to read a whole lot.  Yet, I am not living totally booklessly.  I am somewhere in the middle.

My diet is not healthy.  It is not indulgent.  It is somewhere in the middle.

My weekends aren’t typically spent doing adventurous things.  They’re not spent entirely in front of the TV, either.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My daily work is not terribly engaging.  It’s also not completely boring all of the time.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My home is neither large nor small.  It is somewhere in the middle.

I’ve not fully lived up to my intellectual potential.  I am also not exactly sitting around as an aimless high-school dropout.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I don’t get to spend most of my time with my children.  I don’t see them infrequently, either.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

I’m not a bad cook.  I’m not a great cook, either.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I am sure I am not always the best example for my kids.  I am certain that I am far from the worst.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I don’t wake up each day excited for the possibilities it will bring.  I also don’t wake up and find it terrifying or exhausting to think about getting out of bed.  I am somewhere in the middle.

All of this has left me wondering whether I am really living my life well.  And, if I am not, when do I intend to start doing so?

Perhaps too many of us are afraid to take real risks because with the chance of experiencing very high “highs,” we have to risk experiencing very low “lows,” too.  My old job was like that.  There were tons of hills and valleys.  No — mountains and abysses.  Or, meteoric peaks and vortexes of darkness.

Yet here I am now living a life that is… tepid.

So, I am trying to dig in to my “bucket” list.  It is time to cross some things off, face some fears and start living life as a better me.

None of us gets a second chance, right?  There is but one lifetime for each of us.

I’d like to know what each of you has done lately that demonstrates that you’re living the best life you can live.  I know I am not alone it this middle ground.  Let us all gather strength to conquer a better existence together.

I’ll start:  last month, I faced one of my biggest fears.  I have spent my life absolutely embarrassingly terrified of boats.  I can swim.  I am not afraid of water.  But, I am afraid of getting sucked under an enormous body of water Titanic-style.  And, I am scared of being helpless and stranded away from land and civilization with no control over my whereabouts.  But, I got on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico in May and set out 5 miles away from shore to lay my godmother to rest in the beautiful waters off of Clearwater, Florida.  Never in a gazillion years would I have imagined that I could do that without becoming hysterical or needing prescription sedatives.  But, I did it.  I didn’t even cry once.  Or rely on pharmaceuticals for an easier go of it.  Now, I am not jumping up excitedly trying to clamor onto another boat anytime soon.  I am not miraculously cured of my baseless fear.  But, I faced it.

How have you made yourself proud lately?  Let us know.  Your comments are always welcome.

Tell us how you’re getting or staying out of the middle.

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19 thoughts on “Life in the Middle

  1. I know what you mean about the middle – but I have been to the bad side of the equation and the middle is not so bad.

  2. I agree with onthehomefrontand beyond. Having had my own bouts of depression, coasting through life in the middle is actually a comfort to me. I don’t like the high life because inevitably you’re going to crash.

    • I, too, have been through depression. I’m not sure I am totally out of it. I think that was the point.

      For me, the absence of any real feeling has been the source of depression, I think. I have chosen a path that has been cautious and moderate. In doing that, I have made a conscious choice not to actively seek happiness.

      This weekend I had a wonderfully exhausting day. We had a party for my sons’ birthdays. The day felt so fabulously full. I slept better than I had in months. I realized after the fact that, like my kids, I slept well because I had been “tired out.” I had experienced the fullness of a day lived well and was able to empty fully into a restful, complete sleep. This represented the peak and valley of a chart, I suppose. But, the “low” wasn’t a dark place. It was a recharge. I realized that I needed to seek more of that. There ought to be more valleys on my life’s line chart that represent regeneration for the peaks.

  3. I have to say I always feel I am in the middle as well. I guess that is why I named my blog “Woman in the Middle.” I figure I will keep getting older and one of these days I won’t be able to say I am middle aged any more, then that will be at least ONE category that doesn’t have me in the middle any more!!!

  4. I spent enough years grasping on by my fingertips for our family, experiencing faith and life as never before. I’m thrilled to be “in the middle”….for now. As for my biggest stepping out lately…..boot camp….completely out of my routine workout, on the edge of vomit, drenched in sweat and asking myself each and every time “Why? Did? I? Come? Here?” and the next day my muscles say….”because we like this feeling.”. I’m sick. I know. sorry. But good for you on the deep sea diving….last time I did that, I was green and it was not a good color for me. 😉

    • Well, let me say that I absolutely didn’t go deep-sea diving. I just got on a boat, let it take me 5 miles away from civilization, helped dispose of my godmother’s ashes and then returned to shore. No swimming, no diving, no snorkeling, no fun. Just facing a fear for the good of a family member.

      As for your workouts, that is totally what I am talking about! Good for you. I am coming to realize that it is important to take chances. Is “boot camp” gonna hurt? Yup. Might you get injured? Vomit? Cry? Yup. But, those things can’t be the reason why you shouldn’t try.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • deep sea diving…..I really need to start proofreading more closely….durh!! either way…me + big boats + big waves= no thank you.

        and no pain,no gain or as one of the gal’s shirts said one day….no hurt, no short skirt…not that I wear a shirt skirt in public these days…but the sentiment is the same!

  5. It took me a while thinking about this before I realized that just living the life I’ve currently chosen is getting out of the middle for me. I had two miscarriages, and I’ve struggled with depression, so it would have been very easy to give up on having children and just go on with life as it was. But I went for it, and now, even though I’m not living at either the high end of the spectrum all the time or the low end, I think I’m happier for it.

    • Bravo.

      I, too, suffered a miscarriage before having my children. It is the absolute worst thing that has ever happened to me. I feel for you, but am so glad to hear that the path you ended up travelling has been a good one.

      I don’t think that the point is to live life at the high or low ends of the spectrum all of the time. It just is to stop being satisfied with “good enough.” It is to stop sighing and throwing up our hands and saying, “oh well.” Life ought to be worth living. Really WORTH it. And, any low points we reach should be worth reaching, too, as they help us learn, help us rejuvenate, help us reflect, help us rest, help us appreciate the good times and help us figure out which high points are worth fighting for.

      Your kids and your life with them was worth fighting for, no? I know for me, I look back now and remember some of the worst moments of my life (including going through that miscarriage in 2007) and I think that if it all had to happen to bring me here with my two beautiful boys and my amazing husband and my snarky sense of humor, so be it. If I had lived without tragedy and sadness — ever — would I have appreciated (or even HAD) the life I do now?

      • It’s true. Snark comes out of tragedy, and who would we be without it? Not terribly interesting people, I suspect. 😉

  6. I am on the verge of stepping out of the middle when it comes to my employment/income life… it’s scary and I may just wimp out and stay in the middle. The middle is a nice safe place to be, there’s security and a predictable income, but sometimes it gets really boring.

    • Best of luck to you as you tip over that edge into a new employment possibility. Even if you decide not to pursue it or if the option changes or falls through, it probably says something powerful about your real inner needs and desires that you’ve considered the change in the first place, right?

  7. I try to remember that this isn’t my “practice life” and try the whole make-everyday-count philosophy but it is hard! I have a twice-exceptional 7 yrs old son and he demands lots of attention and accommodations both socially and academically. I have a puppy at I am unsuccessfully potty training and I work full time. I am still learning to balance my life and how I spend my time. Having said that, I will come back and spend time reading your blog!

  8. Oh I know what you mean. I kind of got into a “middle” rut since my kids were born. Trying to juggle everything meant I steer down the middle line. But now the kids are older I need a bit more “life” in my life. I feel I am at a turning point now. I just dont know what way I am turning….. 🙂

  9. I’m a Buddhist and the middle way is very important, in terms of avoiding extremes. Put very simply, you are neither over-inflating the importance of things (eternalism) or under-estimating things (nihilism). You’re neither saying ‘Everything’s amazing!!!!’ or ‘Everything sucks!!!’ Instead what you’ve described is a balanced view – you see the importance of lots of things but none of them are the be-all and end-all, and as a result it seems you’re a well-rounded person. But having a great day, like you had at the birthday party for your sons, is not in conflict with this – making plans that celebrate what you value in life is important, too. It might just mean doing something fun and fulfilling like that every so often, instead of every day.

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