Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Sandwich Generation - Stuck in between

I had a busy week, and while that’s nothing new - the reason I was so busy is something new that I am getting used to.  Feeling stuck in between.  

This week my Dad got a pacemaker.  It was strange and a little scary for all of us.  I starting thinking about the challenges of what people refer to as the sandwich generation. This isn’t something brand new.  My dad is 85 years old and he has a few health challenges.  He is a pretty amazing guy, he lives with my brother and his wife, because our old house was too big for just him after my mom died.  He is fiercely independent, but he is willing to ask for help if he needs it.  The other night he told my brother that he wasn’t feeling good and they brought him to the hospital.  Well, long story short, his heart wasn’t really beating correctly so they scheduled surgery and put in a pacemaker.  

I spent the morning of the procedure texting updates to my husband, my daughters and my siblings who were too far away to be there.  My dad is such an amazing guy, and he is loved beyond measure by his children, grandchildren and now even his great grandchildren.  It is so hard to think about my dad being ‘old’.  I drove back and forth to the hospital to share visiting times with my brother and sister-in-law, so he wouldn’t be alone. 

 When he left the hospital, dad needed to borrow my daughter’s nebulizer machine so I had to cancel my plans to take a trip up to the mountains with my hubby.  I really didn’t mind canceling my trip to help dad, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself anyway if I was worried about him, but I realized that this is really what people mean by the sandwich generation.  I am not even doing primary care for Dad, and he is still very capable, but he worries about being a burden to this kids.  The funniest part of hanging out with dad this week was when he told me to get going because it was getting dark - I am 50 years old, but he doesn’t want his little girl to be out alone at night.  

but dad wasn’t the only thing going on this week…

I also spent part of my week making sure my younger daughter was registered for classes in her last year of college.  College financial aid has been a great blessing, but it can be challenging and frustrating.  We were making sure all the required forms were turned in so she can start her classes on time.  I am excited that she is almost finished with school, but it is a very different world than it used to be, and even finishing school is no guarantee of a good job.  I can’t help it, as a parent I worry.

I also spent part of my week helping my older daughter navigate the confusing world of real estate as she tries to purchase her first home.  Between the mortgage documents, the house inspections, the appraisals and the real estate contracts I feel like I am drowning in a sea of paperwork and red tape.  She is feeling very overwhelmed right now.  I know my daughter is looking to me for guidance, but real estate has changed a lot since I bought my house.  

I am officially part of the sandwich generation and I am realizing its hard.  It is hard enough growing older, my body is no longer willing to do the things it used to do with ease.  I grin and bear it through hot flashes and my husband thinks its hilarious, but its also an inevitable sign of getting older.  Those well earned gray hairs that I try so hard to hide are a badge of honor for making it this far in life.  

I am grateful that my dad is still around, that he still worries about me, but its my turn to start worrying about him now.  Someday I will feel just like my dad, and I won’t want to be a burden to my kids, but I hope they will feel like I do about caring for my dad - its not a burden, I love him so much and I am glad for anything that I can do to help him and help repay a fraction of what he has done for me all these years.  

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