Monday, November 25, 2013

Make Mine a "Club"... One Woman's Experience with the Sandwich Generation

Recently, Lauren e-mailed me to describe her experience with the Sandwich Generation.  She wrote...
    "I have had several servings of "club" sandwiches over the past 25 years. I had my  2 and 3-year-old and a 92 and 90-year-old in my home at the same time (my grandmother and her brother).  We had them for 6 years.  Plus, my mother down the street at 70. 

    Then I had my mother at 80 in my house and my husband's grandmother at 91.  Plus, my son boomeranged back with his 2-year-old son. We are empty nesters now... for a short time...anticipating the next set of elderly coming, probably next spring (his dad and step-mom). Even though I work full-time, I find myself depressed now that my youngest is gone."
Lauren, I would like to suggest that you are not so much depressed because your youngest left home... you are EXHAUSTED!  Like many in this situation, you have become so accustomed to functioning in chaos and stress that you feel lost without it.  I encourage you to get some rest during this respite... to take some time for Lauren... and to give yourself a break.  I, for one, am in awe of your generosity and your fortitude!

I do somewhat understand where you are coming from... when our little ones have stayed with us for even a 24-hour time frame, there is that period after they leave that we sort of wander around and feel like, "Now what?"  All of a sudden, the house is quiet... there is no one to watch over intently and no feeling of trepidation if you even rush to the bathroom for five minutes.  It takes a while to adjust to the "emptiness" of the house again.  And I'll admit... it sometimes leaves me feeling momentarily sad.

I have also found myself experiencing some mild depression lately that I believe is due in part to the passing of my grandmother last March.  I truly miss her. It's not that I have a whole lot of extra time on my hands that I don't know how to fill... that was never an issue - and other people and projects filled in that void quite quickly and completely.  It's the little things... like thinking, "Oh, I must tell Mam-ma about that"... or "I'll have to ask Mam-ma what she thinks"... or "Mam-ma will love that!" 

For me, sewing has probably been the hardest adjustment.  I love to sew... and Mam-ma taught me how when I was little.  In the last two years, I took everything I made to the Assisted Living Facility to show my Mam-ma.  She would run her fingers across every garment or project.  She would examine the stitches and grin... and gesture for others to have a look at my handiwork.  Even though she couldn't talk, I knew she was pleased... and proud.  And sometimes she would shake her head, and I knew she was wishing that SHE could still sew... but she took great delight in my projects as her progeny.

Now, I don't have anyone to share my completed garments with... not in the way that I shared them with my grandmother.  And this has been hard.  Before my Mam-ma died, a friend who had lost her grandmother (who happened to be Mam-ma's back-door neighbor) told me how sad she was... how much she missed her grandmother... how hard it had been for her.  I thought, "That won't be me.  Mam-ma is SO ready to go to heaven... and I have made my peace with this.  I will miss her, but it won't be so terribly hard."  Well ya know what?  It IS terribly hard some days!  And that's just a fact!

So give yourself a little slack, Lauren.  Take some time for yourself and your husband in these next few months between "sandwiches"...and God bless you - for your dedication and your perseverance!  Every "sandwich" is different... but my goodness, it sounds like you've had a whole deli all by yourself!

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If you would like to share YOUR story, please contact me using the contact button on the top left-hand side of this blog.  We're all in this together... and you are not alone!  Sharing your story might be just the help that someone else needs, so please let me hear from you!