I was in my mid-40s, attending one of my daughter’s T-ball games, when the gentleman sitting next to me asked, “Which one is your grandkid?”
Ouch, that hurt.
“Actually, that little girl rolling around in the outfield is my daughter,” I replied.
“Oh she’s cute,” he remarked while trying to remove some of the shoe leather from between his teeth. I guess that was supposed to make me feel better, but it was little consolation.
Fact of the matter is, I’ve been smack-dab in the middle of the “sandwich generation” for some time now. Membership is easy: If you are raising a child at home while at the same time caring for an aging parent, you’re in. Being “sandwiched” is becoming quite a fad nowadays. CNN reported that one-third of baby boomers are in the club.
There even is a “Sandwich Generation Awareness Month.” This celebration of multi-generation caregivers occurs in July, but I’m writing about it now because I may not have the time in July. Besides, I will probably forget that I wrote about it and write about it again in July. Are you following all this?
A couple of things to note if you feel like you are living at the deli. If you are sandwiched, you probably experience higher levels of stress than normal. I’m not sure anymore what a normal level of stress is, but apparently yours will be higher. Balancing work (eight in 10 sandwiched also have a full-time job) and caregiving (which is work as well) is not easy. The more organized you can be the better. I learned a long time ago to make sure I call my mother on every trip I make into town. “You can never have too much ice cream in the freezer,” Mom always says.
Make caregiving a family affair so it does not become a family nightmare. Encourage independence from both parties. I would help mow the grass and clean the house so my parents would have the energy to tend to my grandmother when she needed help. My grandmother did not drive a car in order to go shopping, but she could make a grocery list, do laundry and wash dishes.
Maybe you’re in the exclusive “club sandwich” generation, which means you’re caring for grandchildren on top of everyone else. God bless you; I’m not at that level in my membership and might escape it altogether.
Either way, things always have a way of working out when you have a positive spirit while approaching challenges. That’s how my parents did it, and I imagine that is how I will make it as well.
Gotta go — Mom is calling.
DeLong is the executive director for The Suites at Station Exchange. Email him at Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com.