I have recently gone through some major changes in my life that have caused me a considerable amount of joy, but also huge amount of discomfort and stress. A few weeks ago, I became an official member of the Sandwich Generation. For those that don’t know, the Sandwich Generation is the term used to describe the growing number of middle aged people (mostly) who are simultaneously raising children and caring for their elderly parents. The term is used to describe the position that many people find themselves in between the responsibility of being a parent and the needs/demands of caring for a sick parent. What you are left with is very little space and time for yourself.
I am a single parent of 2 active children. I am always running between dance classes, soccer practice, cheerleading competitions, PTA/Teacher meetings (at 2 different schools), doctor appointments, play dates, teen activities, and trying to find time to spend ‘special’ individual time with each child. Oftentimes, I have to look to ‘my village’ to assist me in covering all that my kids require.
I am also the daughter of a chronically ill parent. My Mother is suffering with moderate Dementia and Chronic Kidney Disease. Previously, my Mom lived in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, due to the level of care she needed. I was never really comfortable with her living arrangements, but also knew that financially and time wise, taking care of her would be extremely difficult. However, after my Mother ended up in the hospital, due to poor care on the facility’s part, I declared that she was coming home.
During the time she was in the hospital, I became incredibly anxious about how I would manage all the responsibility that would fall on my shoulders. I dealt with feelings of sadness about sacrificing the little time that I already had to myself, the additional cost of adding another person to my household, and the additional work of physically assisting her in daily functioning. I got into several arguments with my older sibling, who has a grown child and is financially in a better place, over why she couldn’t be the one to take care of mom. I was totally frustrated and felt like my life was over!!
You’ve got to understand!! Here I was, recently divorced, rebuilding my life with my children, finally being able to afford to do special things for myself and my children, starting to want to date again and BAM!! Now all of that would be swept out the door: time gone, privacy gone, freedom gone, life gone!!! I am ashamed to admit it, but that is honestly how I felt. I was mourning the loss of my space, time, and freedom. However, I am also a person of consciousness and I listen when God’s voice speaks to me. As a result, during my lamenting, I heard God telling me “you can do it” and “you will find a way to make it work." So I followed that small, still voice and my heart and brought mom home.
Since Mom has been home, there have been adjustments for everyone. My children have had to adjust to having less of my attention and are learning to be more responsible and independent. I have had to become better at managing my time. My mother has had to adjust to being around boisterous kids and running around to their activities. I have had to continue to lean HARD on my dad, who will do ANYTHING for my Mother, despite being divorced for 30+ years. And we all have had to get used to my Mother’s mood swings and agitation/frustration that comes with Dementia. It’s been BUSY and HARD!! And I am truly ‘sandwiched’ in between the needs of someone else. There are days were I don’t stop moving until 11pm and I am exhausted beyond words. I’ve had to pass on many social engagements and hanging out with friends. I’ve had to watch my pennies a whole lot closer! I continue to have days where I’m frustrated, too tired, totally impatient and grumpy, but I know that God has a plan and I know that we are all being blessed in this process!
The truth is, I don’t know how much longer my mother will be with us! I have several friends who have lost their Mothers and even though I know it will happen, I really can’t even imagine it!!! I LOVE MY MOTHER and in the end, I’m blessed to have this time and opportunity. I remind myself of this daily and, with God’s grace, continue to put my best foot forward.