Caught Between Tired and Tears

Apr 15, 2023 | Fledge, Parenting

The man remarked on my overflowing grocery cart. I carefully maneuvered to the checkout line, hoping something wouldn’t fall off.

“I used to do this every week,” I replied matter-of-factly. I’m still thankful I get to grocery shop alone, remembering the days I took all four kids with me, and we had two full carts at the Walmart Superstore checkout line.

But it’s the Friday before Thanksgiving, and our refrigerator has cabbage, lettuce, orange jello, and three half-eaten jars of jam. The college kid and the married will be home for the holidays, and I should have more than cabbage and jelly to serve them.

Getting a cartload of groceries on a Friday night was therapeutically exciting. My kids were coming home, and I had to fight the urge to tell every other grocery shopper because I was almost giddy. Nesting is what they call it when a mother prepares for her young. It still happens when the fledglings who leave the nest come home.

The Tired

We were home this Friday night because my youngest man-cub, a high school senior, was three hours away with his high school show choir singing the National Anthem at an Indiana Pacers game. We originally had plans this night, so we didn’t get a ticket for the event since it was the third year the choir had had this honor.

Junior has kept us busy all fall with sporting and school events. The last time we had a Saturday home was in August. His dad and I are just. Plum. Tired.

Nesting this night included baking cookies for the upcoming holiday, something I last did a long time ago. Cooking and baking are some of my least favorite things (read Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All for the full story), except when I’m nesting.

Afterward, my husband and I sat on the couch and watched some cable TV stations with commercials for toys and young mom things I usually don’t see. I’m used to TV shows with commercials for medications whose side effects make your eyeballs fall out.

Friends at the Pacer’s game sent me photos of my son while I sat on the couch with my coffee. My sister-in-law sent me a video of my college son winning a halftime shooting contest at his university’s girls’ basketball game.

I felt like a loser for a moment because other people were watching my kids do what seemed like great things. But it was fleeting.

I was at home doing what I thought was a great thing–prepping for when our fledging kids will gather and resting from school events we’ve done for a bazillion years.

The Tears

Toy Story was next in the queue as the movie we watched ended. I watched the first five minutes of it and started crying.

My husband turned it off, asking if I missed little kids. At first, I couldn’t identify why I was crying. But then I knew. 

I didn’t miss little kids. I used to grieve over not raising little ones, but we’ve been doing it for three decades, and I’m exhausted. I loved our quiet evening, just the two of us. It’s what we used to do before busy, and ballgames took over our lives.

But I missed baking cookies and watching movies with toy commercials. I missed the three boys who would have been in our basement playing basketball, having sword fights, and a girl running up and down the stairs talking with us, her brothers, and texting on her phone.

I missed being a thirty-something mom with energy and a whole house. I missed us.

The Season of And

In this midlife season of fledging our last one, I’m often caught between tired and tears. Tired of doing things I don’t have the energy for anymore. Tears for the people I miss.

Life right now is full of ands: exhaustion and tears. Letting go and holding on. Memories and anticipation. Joy and sadness. Endings and beginnings.

I’m learning to live in this weird space of AND. I’ve been here a while, and I’m getting used to it. As life moves forward, it is more familiar. I think it’s the place God calls us to live. Never quite perfect, never quite the same, never entirely like we anticipate.

This graduation season, I’m sure you’re living in the and, too. I pray you will spend it with people who are home to you, whether it’s tired and tears or something else. And you will give thanks, with me, to our heavenly Father, for everything between the AND.

For everything else about this midlife and fledging season, get Fledge, Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, and join the Midlife Moms community!


Simple Secrets For A Compelling Life

Do you feel trapped in a chaotic, relentless, demanding lifestyle? No matter where you live or what season of life you’re in, you can find inspiration from the simpler life. 


  1. Karen clark

    You truly spoke to my heart this morning. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Kim Ball

    You have a great way of writing what I am feeling. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Brenda L. Yoder

      Thank you so much Kim! You are welcome.

  3. Suzanne Montgomery

    Beautiful and so true!

    • Brenda L. Yoder

      Thank you Susanne! So many ands we are caught between!

  4. Mb

    Nailed it again….. crying now….. how do I land on Jesus wept…. then remember BUt God. Rich In mercy. Thanks!!!!

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