I am a card-carrying member of what is referred to as the “sandwich generation.” For those of you who are blissfully unaware of what that means, it refers to people who have children living at home (so far this is all normal, right?) and also their aging parents (normal goes right out the window at this point). And of course, when I do something I have to do it in the most stressful, stand-out-from-the crowd way… a way that gets me frequent sympathetic pats on the back and daily comments of “I’ll pray for you, Pam.” Why? Because my little sandwich generation circus consists of a seven-year-old child, a nine-year-old child and a ninety-year-old mother. Are we having fun yet?
It was a difficult decision when my husband and I chose to start the adoption process almost 10 years ago because I was in my late forties. We decided though that God had placed that on our hearts and went full steam ahead into the world of diapers, sleep deprivation, teething, and unimaginable joy. We became parents at the age most of our friends were gearing up for lives as grandparents.
I was deliriously happy, despite the fact that many people thought I was my children’s grandmother… well, actually, since I live in the south I was referred to by the loving term granny. Even after living in Tennessee for 20 years I can’t get used to the fact that women actually liked being referred to by that name. Images of a pot-wielding, cranky old woman from the Beverly Hillbillies comes to mind. But I digress…
Just as I was happily enjoying life as a mom after almost having that incredible experience pass me by, my husband and I make the decision that my mother is no longer capable of living on her own in her little apartment close by. We prayed, we agonized, we cried and then we moved my mother into our home.
Having mom with us creates some very interesting challenges. For example, mom wants to be useful but her memory works against her. She tries to help by doing the children’s laundry. It becomes a mad scramble in the morning as my kids open their drawers to find most of the clothing in there belongs to their sibling. And for the record, there’s nothing more irritating to a seven-year-old boy than to find his sister’s pink underwear and socks in his drawer where his Spiderman boxers should be.
Mom also tries to help by tidying up in my kitchen. The problem is that she’s only 4’8” tall so she rearranges my cabinets so everything will fit below the counter. Before I start cooking dinner each night I have to go on a scavenger hunt for the items I need.
These days, in the mornings I can be heard reminding some members of my family to be sure and brush their teeth while reminding another family member to be sure and put in her teeth.
Life is good.