From Baby Boomer to Sandwich Generation
My parents need my attention and my kids need my attention (whether they admit it or not). I am the lunch-meat in a very messy sandwich. I feel pulled between my 80+ year old ailing parents and my sons, ages 19 +. Occasionally, I’m able to pay attention to my husband and somewhat psycho dog.
Once a month, I gather my baked goods and my container of homemade blintzes (which TSA officially refers to as “Organic Material encased in plastic”) and migrate down to Boynton Beach to visit my parents and partake of early bird specials. (It always takes me a while to get used to eating dinner at 3:30.) Once down there, I reboot the computer, teach my mom how to use her cell phone again and reset clocks from the last blackout. They see me as a technological guru. Wow, are they mistaken.
My Dad suffers from dementia and my Mom is losing weight from stress. It sucks. But there are light, humorous moments. (I love my Dad, but we all laughed when he was patiently standing in the linen closet, waiting for the “elevator door” to open. It’s okay. He laughed too.) My Dad was a highly intelligent, social, proficient civil engineer. Now he doesn’t remember how to turn on a light switch. It’s all very sad. They’ve been very happily married and inseparable for over 65 years. My Dad was always the ultimate joker and my Mom was his best audience. Her laughter was contagious. Her eyes would water and, with a particularly good laugh, tears would “run down her leg.” (She’ll love that I shared that.) Life’s more serious now. They need help to break the monotony, remind them that life is good, and assist with insurance claims.
Meanwhile, my kids call with a vast assortment of questions, requests (financial and otherwise), dilemmas, illness reports, good and bad news, decision angst and stories. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but…
I know it will all work out, eventually, but it can be tough to juggle parental commitments and the needs of children (they’ll always be children to me), while still sorting out my own life. Plus, I feel guilty for admitting that. My problems are sooo much better than those of others. But sometimes, I just want to be the kid again. Ah…thank goodness for antidepressants.
I’m finished venting. It’s time to pack.
I think I’ll make a sandwich for the plane.
(Artwork by Nancy Anton, talented writer of this article and can be viewed and bought atnancyanton.artistwebsites.com )