“You’ve heard of the sandwich generation? Well, I feel like a piece of meat.”
— Eric Winger
It’s hard having teenage children. Or so I’ve been told.
It’s hard having aging parents. Or so I’ve been told.
It’s hard having both at the same time. Or so I’ve discovered.
Over the past decade plus, I’ve had the pride and joy of watching my children grow from infants to amazing young people. During that same time, I’ve had the sorrow and depression of watching my parents grow older, their bodies racked by disease.
It’s not easy being caught in the middle. The demands of both are staggering, overwhelming, and emotionally draining. The time commitment is extraordinary. It seems never ending, and yet you always secretly hope it never ends. Some days you only want to cry, others you want to cry even harder. But that would only make things worse. Children and parents both need someone to lean on, and the man in the middle is often it.
If there were any miraculous solutions, I would tell you. But there aren’t. Growing and aging are both processes that can be painful and difficult. There are good days, but there are also many frustrating, exasperating, and terrible days – for everyone.
For me personally, the things that help are to ask for help with much appreciation and humility, thank everyone whom you’ve ever depended on again and again, cry often, laugh even more, complain little, do everything you can possibly do to keep your own house in order including getting your own end-of-life issues resolved, don’t dwell on your own problems, don’t pity yourself, give all you can again and again, and above all, appreciate every single day both good and bad.
Being a member of the sandwich generation is challenging, but the kind of sandwich you make is up to you.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Wrote a thank you card to some friends who have been helping my parents… Helped my parents with all the little things I could. Continued assisting them with paperwork also… Played gin rummy with my mother. It was wonderful.