Do you ever consider all the roles you play in life? If you have kids, you’re a mom, a taxi driver, a referee, a tutor, a pillow, a cook, a nurse and therapist; among other things. My girls are six and nine years old, so that pretty much sums up the hats I wear on the regular. But I’m also a wife, a daughter, a colleague, a friend…. you get the picture.
We wear so many hats, and yet we figure it out. We manage our time, our resources and our capabilities. It’s a job, right? Just like at work, I am expected to make it work. You sneak in the occasional ‘me time’ where you can and hope that it doesn’t get too overwhelming. I sometimes think, if I can just keep it moving, I won’t get stuck.
Does that make sense?
But now that my parents are getting older, I feel the squeeze a bit more. I’m part of what they call the Sandwich Generation. Sandwiched between aging parents and growing kids.
So now, not only do I worry that my kids are getting through life okay, and learning how to be a contributing part of society. I am trying to teach them to become confident, strong, smart girls while now worrying about my parents too.
They are both retired, and while young in age and at heart, they still need help with things and require my support. And I will always do whatever I can to help them. Whether it’s to look over a bill, make a phone call or navigate the world wide web for my unconnected parents, it’s the least I can do for everything they’ve done for me.
But it doesn’t mean that it’s not stressful. I am constantly worrying about what they need, if we should move them closer to us and what the future will bring. It’s no different from the worry I have for my kids, their needs and the things I need to do for them.
I’m not sure if the worry will ever go away, or if I sometimes make it worse for myself, but the reality is I feel the need to carry this on my shoulders. I have my husband’s support, but would never ask anyone else for help. Since they are my parents, and my family.
I’m not sure my parents are liking this slight shift in the dynamic, however the reality is, they need to rely more on me now. After years of working hard and hustling through life, it’s time to try and slow down. Part of that includes selling their house, to downsize them into a condo; something smaller, and more manageable. They don’t need to be shoveling driveways or cutting the grass.
They are on board with this plan and so now we wait for their house to sell in this new market. We can lament over the “if only” we had it ready by May, when the market was smoking hot, it would have sold, they would have moved and things would be more settled.
But that wasn’t the case. They’ve lived in their house for 20 years, and so things needed to be decluttered. We had a fantastic garage sale at the end of the summer, and got rid of a lot of stuff. We sold a lot of those items that tend to get shelved in the garage, and forgotten about.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?!
I dug out about 12 boxes of my own stuff which had old school files and books, mainly. I quickly reminisced, sorted and recycled all but a couple of those boxes. It’s so cathartic cleaning up old stuff. Decluttering and offloading the junk that weighs you down. It’s something I ought to do more often!
I’m also doing more research on the Sandwich Generation. Like, for example, did you know there are different types of sandwiches? According to Wikipedia, there is a traditional sandwich, club sandwich and open-faced sandwich!
For real, I can’t make this up! These terms have even been added to the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries.
I’m a traditional sandwich, positioned between my baby boomer parents and my young children. If you are curious to know, those who are club sandwiches are older (in their 50s and 60s) and are caring for aging parents, but who also have kids and grandkids of their own. And open-faced sandwiches are those involved in any type of elder care.
What I do know, is that traditionally (pun intended), female children are the ones who take on the responsibility of caring for their aging parents. And it’s no different in my case. Although, to be honest, I help my in-laws when they need me too. I do things like IT support (troubleshooting my father-in-law’s laptop) to making phone calls about their phone and cable bills.
This is the circle of life, right? I’m going to make it work and do what I need to do. It’s going to be hard and challenging, but it’s also going to be amazing to be there for the people who raised me to be the person I am. I hope they let me help them. I hope they don’t fight me too much and I hope they trust me and in my decisions. To be honest, it would just be easier if they just accept the fact that I’m going to be there to help them, no matter what.
I think with some patience, honesty and understanding on both sides is needed so we can all find a happy place and way of life.
Let me know if you are part of this sandwich generation. And if so, what type of sandwich you are! Do you have any advice or resources that I should consider?
I look forward to hearing from you.