Sandwich, anyone?

I am a card-carrying member of what is referred to as the “sandwich generation.” For those of you who are blissfully unaware of what that means, it refers to people who have children living at home (so far this is all normal, right?) and also their aging parents (normal goes right out the window at this point). And of course, when I do something I have to do it in the most stressful, stand-out-from-the crowd way… a way that gets me frequent sympathetic pats on the back and daily comments of “I’ll pray for you, Pam.” Why? Because my little sandwich generation circus consists of a seven-year-old child, a nine-year-old child and a ninety-year-old mother. Are we having fun yet?

It was a difficult decision when my husband and I chose to start the adoption process almost 10 years ago because I was in my late forties. We decided though that God had placed that on our hearts and went full steam ahead into the world of diapers, sleep deprivation, teething, and unimaginable joy. We became parents at the age most of our friends were gearing up for lives as grandparents.

I was deliriously happy, despite the fact that many people thought I was my children’s grandmother… well, actually, since I live in the south I was referred to by the loving term granny. Even after living in Tennessee for 20 years I can’t get used to the fact that women actually liked being referred to by that name. Images of a pot-wielding, cranky old woman from the Beverly Hillbillies comes to mind. But I digress…

Just as I was happily enjoying life as a mom after almost having that incredible experience pass me by, my husband and I make the decision that my mother is no longer capable of living on her own in her little apartment close by. We prayed, we agonized, we cried and then we moved my mother into our home.

Having mom with us creates some very interesting challenges. For example, mom wants to be useful but her memory works against her. She tries to help by doing the children’s laundry. It becomes a mad scramble in the morning as my kids open their drawers to find most of the clothing in there belongs to their sibling. And for the record, there’s nothing more irritating to a seven-year-old boy than to find his sister’s pink underwear and socks in his drawer where his Spiderman boxers should be.

Mom also tries to help by tidying up in my kitchen. The problem is that she’s only 4’8” tall so she rearranges my cabinets so everything will fit below the counter. Before I start cooking dinner each night I have to go on a scavenger hunt for the items I need.

These days, in the mornings I can be heard reminding some members of my family to be sure and brush their teeth while reminding another family member to be sure and put in her teeth.

Life is good.

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20 Responses »

  1. I can only imagine the challenges you face on a daily basis caring for all those in your home. As I’m sure it brings joy in so many ways to have your mother there with you and your family, it must be so hard to watch her level of independence change in front of you and your relationship with her altered so significantly. But the teeth comment…now that’s funny!

    • Thank you for your comment. It is challenging and it’s difficult to watch mom decline but it has given my children some amazing memories to hold to as they get older. I do have to keep my sense of humor though or else I’d go crazy!

      Pam

  2. It is very tough to be in that growing number of people in the sandwich generation. I’m 46, my husband is in his 50’s. We have three children, 13,9 and 6. And yes, we have three parents, who thankfully are now in good health but have had medical problems that have needed our attention. It’s crazy running to the hospital, doing homework, talking to doctors, talking to teachers, doing carpool. I can’t imagine how it must be to be living with a parent on top of dealing with all the challenges of parenting. Thanks for sharing your story!! So important!!

    • Kathy, you can certainly relate to my situation. One day you’re talking with the pediatrician and the next day you’re talking to the geriatic specialist.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Pam

  3. You know, at the end of the day, you will be happy you have these memories (crazy as they may be) of your dear mother. It is truly family that matters when all is said and done and what a great example you are setting for you own child to follow. On that note–I’m adopted and have fondness in my heart for these types of families. Merry Christmas!

    • Ali, Merry Christmas to you and your family as well. My memories will certainly be crazy but I love watching how compassionate and caring my children are to their grandmother.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Pam

  4. I am Southern and we call ours Grandma and Nana. I know that this is trying so I salute you for your perseverance! It builds character! So be 1!

    • I’ve heard “Nana” being used often but I don’t hear “Grandma” in my neck of the woods so much. “Granny” is big here. Of course, by the time I actually am a grandmother I’ll probably be so old it won’t matter what I get called.

  5. That last line? Hilarious in all of it’s truth. Hang in there, you’re doing beautifully in such a challenging situation – humor is key, right?

    Congrats on being a vB featured member!
    Gina
    http://www.totallyfullofit.com

  6. Your situation is quite common in the Philippines. :) Here though, we have helpers or maids at our disposal so taking care of kids and elderly parents at the same time is a bit easier. Do you have anyone else to help you?

  7. Although we have no parents living with us we do help provide for their living while attempting to raise four daughters to adulthood. I never imagined having the added expense of parents during my child-rearing years. It sounds like you are handling it with love and grace though!

  8. I’m sure your household has plenty of clean clothing :) But the fact is that what a great daughter you are in taking care of you mom even if it means that the clothing is all mixed but your feelings in your heart are not. Awesome post.

  9. LOL with the teeth brushing and tooth putting in thing. I’m sure it must be hard with your mom sometimes, but your kids are sure gonna appreciate our senior citizens as they get older. Oh, and I’m a sammich person myself :)
    Sharon

    • Hi Sharon. Thanks for your comment. The teeth discussions we have around our house are priceless. When my daughter had to bring a fossil to school for her science project she wanted to bring my mother’s teeth. Things do get difficult at our house sometimes but a sense of humor gets us through. Have a Merry Christmas.

      Pam

  10. You’ve got a wonderful sense of humor, which I know helps! How fortunate your children are to be able to create memories with their grandmother, they are going to thank you later! You’re awesome!

    Visiting from voiceBoks, congrats on being featured, you deserve it!

    • Hi Stacey, thank you! Voiceboks is such a great community. Thank you for your comment. The memories my children have of my mom are truly so precious. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

      Pam

  11. What a beautiful outlook you have – funny – but beautiful! What a blessing you are in the life of your child and that of your mother. Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas! *Oh, and congratulations on being a featured member this week at voiceBoks!

    ~Blessings,
    Rosann

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