Unwilling member of the sandwich generation

From Wikipedia:

The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.

According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million.

Carol Abaya categorized the different scenarios involved in being a part of the sandwich generation.

  • Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
  • Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched  between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
  • Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.

My sister and I are unwilling members of “The Sandwich Generation”.  This is not our first time at bat here.  The first was when my father sick from a debilitating disease and he and my mother not accepting any request to assist and/or advice on how to better manage all his care.  With lots of home care that stressed and stretched their relationship and ours with them till it broke and he passed away in 2012.

Now it is my mother’s turn.  She recently turned 75 and as a widow for the last year and a half has become more stubborn and shall we say forgetful. Layer on top of that she just had surgery to correct Stenosis of her spine. One she seems to be having a lot of difficulty recovering from physically.  In addition during her time at rehab they noticed some changes in her cognitive abilities.  Something we were noticing being long distance through phone calls.

I am 50 and my sister 46.  My husband and I are raising our girls ages 8 and 6 years old and we live clear across the county.  My mother is not an easy woman and not one I get along with very well so you can see how stressful it will be for ALL of us to have to be part of her ongoing care whether living independently or in need of more.

This is reminiscent of my father’s last years, needing care and more than in-home but their denial that he needed that and the stress that home care brought with it.  Take that with her lack of recovery from her surgery and her forgetfulness and stubbornness and we are back to this place of her not wanting to do what she needs to do and our having to figure out how to help. And both of us, my sister and I, do not live close by which creates an even greater challenge as part of this sandwich generation!

 

Stay at home Mom …

1342125279697_1676030

By definition;

A housewife is a woman whose main occupation is running or managing the family’s home—caring for and educating her children, cooking and storing food, buying goods the family needs in day to day life, cleaning and maintaining the home,  etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stay_at_home_mom

This definition a bit outdated, but still the basis of what people think a stay at home mom is. On the other hand there is the comic picture I included which is how I think a lot of people envision the day of a stay at home mom…so not true!

There was a time that I was a career girl and I liked my jobs in the Fashion/Retail industry.  I worked for over 20 years in different capacities in the field.  Finally during our family building trials and tribulations I quit my job to focus on starting a family. That was over 10 years ago. People know me now as my girl’s mom.  They don’t necessarily know I lived and worked in New York City and that I lived and worked in San Francisco for many years.  I traveled a lot for work to a lot of cities and states even some I might not necessarily have visited had it not been for business.  I even had travel overseas for one of my jobs.

My current job description is Boo boo kisser, referee, menu planner, cook, chauffeur, homework helper, nurse, friend, wife, mommy, dog walker, recreational planner, vacation planner, food shopper, laundress, house cleaner, flower gardener, late night soother, CEO & President of our family Enterprise!

This is the first year both of my girls are in a full day of school.  This is the first year I have almost 6 hours in a weekday to fill.  With that I am at our girls’ school many days and there I’m known to help out in their classrooms, for field trips, special projects and PTA. I am also chairing the largest fund-raiser for our school ~ the Spring Gala.   Then there are their extra curricular activities.  I am a girl scout leader for each of my girls’ troops.  I am their taxi to and from ballet lessons and to and from play dates..  I put in much time and effort in doing all of these things for my girls, for their school and for their friends.

I consider myself lucky that I have been able to stay at home all these years.  It’s not been easy. We are on a strict budget (that I always go over, thank you amazon.com).  Both my husband and I grew up with each of our mom’s being at home and it was important to us that we try to give our girls this too.  There are days that I wonder was I cut out for this or should I be working again now that our youngest is in first grade.  There are times I hear my girls excitement that their Daddy is off of work and that is extra special time to spend together.  I feel pains when I hear them so excited for their Daddy and when I ask aren’t they excited for me too? they tell me we see you all the time! I wonder do my girls take for granted that I am always there for them?

Then there are the times I do feel the difference of not working at an office or for a company. This is usually when I am together with friends who do work and have that part of their lives. Yet I am lucky that there are a group of moms who too are stay at home and we can complain together and share the stressors of our days.  Other times someone slips and says something about being a working mom and passively putting down a stay at home mom.  Maybe it’s jealousy or maybe they don’t know how busy my day really is and think of the woman in the comic above?

In the end this was a choice we made and one I am happy to do on most days.  Don’t get me wrong it’s not always easy but I think in the end it’s worth it.  I say to those who can’t see the value in all that we stay at home moms contribute to our community, we do and that’s what matters!

 

MOMMY you are all sweaty!

Sweating at Night-2

That is a direct quote from my girls today while sitting in an after school program for my third grader.  It’s like they really ratted me out pointing out to everyone within their voice range (which as children is not quiet) that I was all sweaty,

That is the marked difference between me and most of the other mothers at school.  I think it is likely that I am one of the oldest moms there with the mid-range being in their 30s.  I am as old as a lot of the grandparents that help their families and get their students at school at pickup.

I’m starting to realize as I am closer to turning 51 that my sweating has become very profound.  I think they are flashes of sorts without the red face.  I glisten from head to toe during one of these moments and it’s all the more embarrassing when your children point out to you the obvious with the whole world listening in.

It’s one of the things I had not planned ahead or thought about during our journey to parenthood.  I got married at 36 and our first daughter was entrusted into our family when I was 41 years old.  I don’t feel old in the sense of whatever old should feel like.  I am, however, starting to feel the difference in these instances how I stand apart from the other moms.

Being a mid-life mother has pluses and minuses.

The pluses being I can be a stay at home mom and be able to be there for our girls, assist as needed at their school and be the one who takes them to their extra activities.  The plus is I am older and wiser.  I was pretty narcissistic in my late 20s and 30s.  I’m not sure I’d be the same mother if I was that young.  The other plus is we were married for 7 years before becoming parents.  That’s longer than most before children start arriving, but for us it is what it was and it gave us a solid foundation for the trials and tribulations that were our family building pathways.

The minuses start with the symptoms that are becoming more profound in this last year including and not limited to these sweating flashes, insomnia, headaches and not always feeling like myself.  Being the older mom is not obvious on the outside due to the blessing of my genes but I do feel the gap in age when talking with some of the moms.

When do I start to tell my girls what causes all this sweat or do I?  We’ve been talking to them about what will be happening for them in the next few years as they reach puberty through some great books – The Care and Keeping of You 2 and It’s not the Stork.  Do we start reading them books on menopause just as they are learning about puberty?  There are no parenting books about this I’m sure,  at least not yet!

So for now I ponder this sweaty balance I am in, and I am sure I first will ask my girls to not shout out the obvious especially while we are in public and then I will give them some info on why Mommy is so sweaty now and again.

 

the day I totally lost my cool…more than usual

Maybe it’s because we are only in week 3 of school and we are not quite in the groove of our school morning routine, maybe it’s because I’m in the last days of this month’s pills, maybe just maybe I am still getting over the visit with my mother over a week ago.

In any case, I totally lost my cool with my girls during morning prep for school this past Monday. I lost myself so that I scared myself.  The anger that welled up in me took only seconds and just like that it passed.  After though was the guilt, lots of guilt.  Heart wrenching, migraine making, guilt.

My mother and I have a tumultuous relationship. One I am trying hard not to duplicate with my own girls.  I had a good childhood, but my teenage years and subsequent years into adulthood have not been easy with my mother.  It was there as we were together to celebrate her 75th birthday just over a week ago at my sisters home the fact that we cannot be alone in a room just the two of us.  My buttons are pushed and we argue at each other.

I have attended mindful parenting classes to give me the tools so that anger is not my first reaction.  I realize I am not alone, especially after attending these classes.  There was a room full of women with similar backgrounds trying to change the history so as not to repeat their relationships with their mothers with the children they are raising.

Both my husband and I are strong personalities (mine maybe even the most strong-willed) and our girls are strong-willed as well so there are bound to be bumps in the road.  Differences of opinion, differences of how we should do things, differences as they show their independence. That is all expected.

Let’s face it I’m 50 going to be 51 this year, my hormones are changing and some days I feel fine and others not quite myself, can I blame it all on hormones? no, but they do add to it.  I have taken steps to try to alleviate the peri-menopausal symptoms with drugs and herbs.   But there are still days…

There are just some days that my anger is quick and mighty and I cannot get a hold of it.  I am thankful that it is not often not at the level it was Monday morning.