The Sandwich Generation refers to those, like myself, who were born just after the baby boomers. We have now entered our 40s and 50s and many of us find ourselves still caring for adolescent children in the home, but we are also now the primary caregivers for our aging parents. We are, in essence, sandwiched between these two responsibilities and as a result, find ourselves squeezed from both ends.
What is really curious to me is that I have never been able to eat a sandwich. I know, it is quite a simple task, but I am just not coordinated to take a bite without all the insides shooting out the other end. My husband used to make fun me, rightly so, that I could ruin a perfectly good roast beef and swiss sub in about five bites. But here is the thing...the way that I eat a sandwich has now become a reflection for my real life today. Each time my mom is put in the hospital, each time she has a fall, or a dizzy spell, I feel a little bit more of my own insides being squeezed out the other end. I expect to have issues with my own children, but I never expected to have issues with my mom.
I thought that at this time in my life I would begin to have an opportunity to live for me; to do the things that I wanted to do because I would have the time and the finances to be a little bit selfish. As I wrote in my post yesterday in Life is a Verb Thursday.....I willingly put my life on hold saying "when this happens then..." Well, "this" happened. My youngest is a senior in high school this year and I can finally breathe a little sigh of relief. I can begin to spend money and time on me and my own interests. Or at least, that is how I envisioned it happening. Instead, I find that I have very little free time because I am caring for a parent who doesn't really want to live (she has said so on many occasions), but she is too afraid to die. It is emotionally draining.
Last summer I had to write some poetry for a creative writing class. I am NOT a poet, and the poems were less than mediocre, but the subject of the poems still rings true. One such poem was entitled Out to Lunch and it encapsulates these emotions in a concise way. I will share it with you now, not because it is good, but because the essence of it is real:
Out to Lunch
The sandwich generation:
Caregivers to our parents as well as our children.
Mom is your basic white,
While my grown children would be marbled rye.
The teenager can definitely have her sourdough moments.
But what does that make me?
I don’t have the sense of humor to pull off ham and cheese.
I hope I am not considered turkey.
Tuna Fish? Nutritious but the smell keeps people at a distance.
Peanut Butter can be too annoying –
Sticking around where it is not wanted.
Bratwurst might be nice, but I am neither hot nor spicy.
A Hero? I would never be so presumptuous.
I think I might be a BLT: Bound - Lonely - Tired.
I understand the imagery, but I don’t like it.
Sometimes I want to forget about sandwiches
And order take out.
Are there any of you who feel the same way --- or am I the only one?