Looking for Love in Limbo

Looking for Love in Limbo

Looking for Love in Limbo by Tracey Clark

I am mother to two amazing daughters. One of which is poised and ready to head off to college this fall. Gulp. The process leading up to the moment when she will spread her wings and fly away has been one of the most difficult experiences I can recall.  And by difficult, I mean excruciating. I hesitate to say, “No one told me it was going to be this hard” because maybe they did and I just didn’t know how to hear it. Regardless, I have been officially blindsided. Believe it or not, I am not referring to the heartbreak of letting my first born soar into her big, bright, beautiful future, away from our safe, cozy nest. Not yet, anyway. That will come sometime this summer, if not sooner, no doubt about it.

As for now, I’m talking about this crazy, surreal, agonizing moment in time where the answer to everything about my daughter’s future rests in the hands of the Great Unknown. I’ve done work my whole life—especially in the last few years—around trusting the Universe, embracing the unknown and finding comfort in the uncomfortable. This time, right now, feels like the ultimate test of all of these things, and more.

We are in true limbo over here. College visits, long and late nights of application and essay writing, taxes and financial aid paperwork are all behind us and now, we wait. I say We quite deliberately because what happens next is something our entire family is invested in.  Acceptance into college and the journey to follow will be my daughter’s thing, in which I will begin to use She. But the process that has led up to now has been, in part, all of ours.

In about 6 weeks from now, everything will be different. Options will have been presented, decisions will be made and the path will be clear. And that’s when I will be writing the heart-wrenching posts of how hard it is let go. Not to mention the “Squeeeeee! She did it!” Facebook updates. But, for the next few weeks, it’s going to be this waiting and wondering period. Even still, if waiting was just about being patient, killing time, enjoying the here and now before everything changes, it might be just fine or even, dare I say, easy. Instead, it’s going to be 6 weeks of time that I can only equate to an epic roller coaster.

Funny, I had meant to write about how hard it was watching my daughter give everything she had to the application process. I couldn’t believe the depth and complexity of that process, how much is expected of kids today and how competitive and stressful it all is. But now, all of that almost pales in comparison to this.

“Mom…” she called to me from the living room, in a tone that scared me. I ran in to see what was wrong. “I didn’t get in…”  And so it begins, like punch to the gut. It wasn’t a college decline, it was a specific program she had worked hard to get into. But the tone of her voice, the initial disappointment, tears, anger, confusion, discouragement, self-doubt—that’s going to be the hardest part of this experience. She strewn herself across the couch as the whole family listened and commiserated and tried helped her process it all. After a while I noticed a heart in the holes of her jeans and gently, hopefully, pointed it out and she quickly exclaimed, “I can’t even see it!”  Ouch.  Her disappointment obviously still palpable and understandably so. With that I have become even more aware that the ups and downs of the next 6 weeks are going to be really intense. I heard it said that we, as parents, feel our children’s pain even more deeply than they do. Considering how all of this is feeling, I’d say that’s probably true.

I keep reminding myself that in a year from now, all of this will be but another distant memory. And I guess it will be. But, being IN IT together right now, feels like the most important thing in the world. The object I suppose is to keep seeking the hearts in the holes; the love in limbo.

  • Sherri Kuhn
    Posted at 04:09h, 13 March Reply

    Oh, Tracey… been there once, heading down that path a second time next fall. You captured the feelings perfectly. Once plans are made it becomes a different type of worry. Enjoy the ride, but it IS a bumpy one.

    • Tracey
      Posted at 05:38h, 13 March Reply

      Thank you Sherri, thank you. xo

  • Shona Cole
    Posted at 07:46h, 13 March Reply

    Thank you for writing this. My 9th grader just toured his first college but has been talking about going to college since he was 10 years old! This sounds exactly like I expect it will for me in a few years! I am so glad you took the time to write it down, to prepare us moms coming behind you, and to hear we are all not alone in this deep rooted parenting!

    • Tracey
      Posted at 15:44h, 13 March Reply

      Thank you for this Shona. It means so much. xo

  • Jennifer Burden
    Posted at 10:18h, 13 March Reply

    i am living vicariously through you and into my own future in this process! (My girls are 4 and 7.) Tracey. I am rooting for your girl, too!!

    I remember getting declined from schools. I remember getting in to others. It is an emotional roller coaster and a tough decision making period. But you guys. You’ve so got this!! I look forward to seeing how your story unwinds!

    Jen 🙂

    • Tracey
      Posted at 15:45h, 13 March Reply

      Jen, your support and encouragement is deeply appreciated. xo

  • Clare Smadja
    Posted at 16:45h, 13 March Reply

    As mothers, we are never fully prepared for the next step – birth, those early years, starting school… And I guess it will continue forever – watching our children marry, becoming grandmothers… My little ones are still little, 11, 9, 6 and 4, but I feel like I’ve already been on so many roller coasters! Just have to hold on to that ticket and enjoy the ride, even the scary parts. I’m a huge fan Tracey, of your writing and your photography. Keep it coming! Clare x (the Aussie Frog)

    • Tracey
      Posted at 03:28h, 18 March Reply

      Sweet Clare, thank you. xo

  • Kathryn S.
    Posted at 17:11h, 15 March Reply

    Dear Tracey,

    Thank you for your honest words, your heartfull descriptions of this time, this process. The intensity of the time is palpable. I find, like you wrote, some comfort in keeping the perspective that the intense times will be become a distant memory at some point, will become a small piece in a much larger picture. I also find an importance in honoring the here and now, in being present to the experience of it and to the love and support around you, holding you, with you during this time.

    I often think back to the labor and delivery of my daughter; I knew in my head that the experience would intense, but would be of limited duration. I had belief and trust in my heart in the path. Yet, in the moments, as my body contracted, the strong sensations of movement, the powerful feelings of love for my child, the overwhelming awareness of not being in complete control of the process and of not being sure what would happen next…those were the realities in the moment. And the knowledge of the big picture was distant, while my breath, my senses, my emotions were right there. Everyone is different, but for me, by being there, by not worrying too much about the perspective I sometimes tell myself I should have, by keeping my soul open to the love and support that was being offered right that moment, by listening to the words I was hearing, looking to the light of the moon through the window and later the rising sun, I was able to experience it, to feel the intensity, to struggle, to be supported, to be vulnerable, to be unguarded from the frustrations and the joys.

    This time will be intense for your family and it’s good to honor that, to be in it, to feel the pains and the exhilarations, to be held by the love from within and from others, to give and receive from your soul, to keep seeking the hearts in the holes. They are there for you. And so are we.

    Much love to you and family during this time.


    • Tracey
      Posted at 03:31h, 18 March Reply

      Kathryn, your words are the poetry of motherhood. I appreciate them so much. Love love love and gratitude. xo

  • gkgirl
    Posted at 17:17h, 18 April Reply

    so hard…hugs to you while you wait…
    and hope for all the things you want to hear…

  • happy mothers day
    Posted at 21:42h, 19 April Reply

    This time will be intense for your family and it’s good to honor that, to be in it, to feel the pains and the exhilarations, to be held by the love from within and from others, to give and receive from your soul, to keep seeking the hearts in the holes. They are there for you. And so are we.

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