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A ‘Sandwich’ by Any Other Name…

2012 October 23

There are so many words we could pull out of our hats to describe a woman over 50 with kids who still need her (whether they’re living at home or not) AND parents who need her, too. Sometimes even more.

A lot of us are members of that so-called ‘sandwich generation’ which, in my mind, always conjures up images of peanut butter and jelly coddled (or squished) between two pieces of equally important slices of bread (preferably whole wheat).

I prefer, though, to think of it in other terms: as an Oreo cookie . . . and I’m the yummy cream in the middle being hugged by two sets of sweeties.

But when you throw in work, partner, home, friends, community, dog, YOURSELF (yes, YOU!) . . . perhaps a ‘7-layer cake’ is a more appropriate analogy.

My youngest daughter is a freshman in high school, my oldest daughter, a freshman in college, and both my mother and mother-in-law have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (in addition to a multitude of other health issues). Sound familiar?

Every day, there are volleyball games to attend or help with homework, meals to prepare, bills to pay, household “things” to take care of, a dog to be walked, or I’m phoning, texting or emailing my oldest daughter as she works her way through the psychological maze known as the ‘first year of college.’

And, there’s work.

Simultaneously, it seems, I take my mother-in-law to doctor appointments, or I can be found cruising south along Rt. 13 on the 8-hour drive to Virginia (with earbuds glued to my head so I can carry on with life via iPhone without skipping a beat) to spend a few days or weeks with my mother so my sister can take a break and come back to New York to continue to bake her own ‘7-layer cake’.

For the moms, medications are carefully counted and placed in “day-of-the-week” plastic pill dispenser boxes, blood sugar levels checked, bills paid, and so on.

For the daughters, as long as they know I’m there for them, they seem to be just fine.

I move seamlessly from one woman to another, giving them each what I hope they need, when they need it, thanks to computers, iPhones, and my husband.

We are a family of hardworking, tough women. There’s all of us . . . and then there’s him. He watches a bit from the sidelines, my husband does, in awe and wonder (he told me not long ago), ready to jump in with support, whenever it’s needed.

But, instinctively he knows it’s me that the other women in his life need most right now, as each of them negotiates the unknown.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s a quick video with Brian Williams talking about the psychological impact of being part of the ‘sandwich generation’.

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62 Responses leave one →
  1. October 24, 2012

    I have been in this position but now my kids are on their own. My mom is now totally disabled. I know of what you speak Barbara. You are a great wife, mom and daughter.

  2. October 24, 2012

    Hi Barbara,

    I’ve been following you for a little while now and I admire your energy and passion for “Fab Over Fifty.” You my dear are an inspiration! I am definitely part of the sandwich generation with two children in college who still need me in different (more stressful?) ways and elderly parents who need more help especially since my mother also has Alzheimer’s. I am in Virginia but travel to Minnesota about every other month or so to “check in” and help out where I can. (If you’ve ever found yourself wishing your mom was closer, be glad you can DRIVE to see her.) I was talking . . . okay, complaining about the distance I need to travel to see my parents with a woman sitting next to me on a plane who proceeded to tell me she flies to Russia once a year to help with her parents! Yikes! Perspective helps and I try to see the blessings in my life.

    I’m so sorry about the two Alzheimer’s diagnosis in your family. It’s a brutal disease that truly is “the long good bye.” I started writing a blog about it and about alzheimer’s prevention since (knock wood) I could be next. It’s been a great way to keep friends and family informed about my mom and it’s been very healing for me. I think of it as looking before writing which leaves no room for denial. Like you, I’ve started running as well. Turns out, exercise is the best thing we can do for our brains!

    Thank you for your informative and thoughtful posts and discussions.

    Be well and blessings to your two mommas. : )

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