The other night I was having a virtual meeting with a friend of mine. We talked about many things including the crisis we are currently in, how it is impacting our families, all the additional responsibility and time management needed.
She’s ahead of me as far as family as she and her husband are empty-nesters. They have two children in their 30s who are both married, one grandson and a ‘grandpup’. Her parents live in England and she gets to visit approximately two times a year. She of course misses them greatly as it’s difficult to schedule getting out there more than twice a year. Her husband’s Mom lives out of state but a drivable distance. They get to see her about four times a year. Her son, daughter-in-law and the grandpup live 20 minutes away and they see them monthly if not more. And their daughter, son-in-law and grandson live in Florida. They work hard to see them as much as possible. With FaceTime, Zoom and all the wonderful technology available, it can feel like we see family members more often but nothing beats face-to-face time. I know we are all craving it in our current situation.
While we were talking, I realized that myself and many of my friends are in the sandwich generation… Meaning you’re taking care of your parents and your children at the same time. Unfortunately, my parents have both passed but my husband’s parents live in a senior community close by. My mother-in-law is moving into the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease so we worry about them all the time. My daughter is a junior in high school and is much more self-sufficient but is still ‘my baby’. We feel the responsibility, concern and overwhelm daily. We are the middle of the sandwich and sometimes it gets pretty cramped in there.
As my friend was telling her story I said that her situation is more like The sandwich and a bag of chips generation (I believe I just coined that phrase) We laughed so hard because we realized…YES, that’s exactly what it is. Not only do they have parents and adult children to worry about, they also have a grandchild (and grandpup). Now I know it’s not quite the same as the sandwich generation, where kids are younger and still at home but I believe a parent’s job isn’t over just because your child moves out. The responsibility is definitely lightened because they are on their own (well most of them) but the concern is still there. You never stop wanting to know children are safe. Minutes after texting my brothers telling them we landed in Virginia after visiting her, my Mom passed away in Chicago. She needed to make sure we were safe. You never stop being a parent.
The good news for my friend, at this point in life, they are financially stable and can take trips to see their family and be as supportive as possible monetarily. There are many families I know and work with that actually have three generations living in the same home. Single moms/dads that have their parents living with them to take care of their children while they work. I’m sure there are homes where the children’s children live together as well. My Dad always said ‘you gotta do what you gotta do’ and that’s what you do.