Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What Kind of Sandwich are You?

We've all heard about the 'sandwich generation' - those of us who have elderly parents who need care and children who are needing us for various reasons. I can relate to that - so if they are the outside - are they bread? Whole grain? Kaiser roll? Do they suck us dry with their absorbancy? Or hold onto us by having us in their pocket? If we are the inside, what kind of stuff are we? lunch meat? pb&j? Are we supplying valuable nutrients? Do we compliment our outside layers without overpowering? Or do we get too wrapped up trying to control how everything goes together? Are we stuck like cement or can we move about freely?

Living in a sandwich situation is stressful. There may be no escape, so coping adequately is important. Recently, I had to neglect my mom to take care of my daughter. Today I went to the nursing home and met with the social worker, the director of nursing, the business office and physical therapy to touch base, iron out problems, ask questions, placate mom mostly. She was having great difficulty with pain medication - wanting more and more narcotics. I thought we had cleared it up for her, but she's called 3 times tonight to say nothing had changed. She's just not going to be happy and I'm going to have to hear about it. She says all kinds of stuff that's not happening, but when I confront her she doesn't back down. This is part of her bipolar/schizo affective disorder. Her side of the sandwich is a crusty, moldy, nasty piece that makes me sick. I don't like to be around, but I deal with what I have to and not let her know how I really feel. Sounds like time for a trip to the psychologist for me!

My daughter's side is high maintenance, but not irritating. She needs support and help right now while recovering and her husband being gone for National Guard training until October. She is doing her best, trying hard and pulling her weight in the situation. She takes care of the baby - they are still nursing after all this.

Of course, what I'd like to be is an Oreo sandwich cookie, but you can't have everything you want - at least not all the time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I wrote in my book,
MOTHERING MOTHER: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, I don't think "sandwich generation" is the proper metaphor.

Afterall, bread just gently lays on top of the meat, cheese and lettuce--everything is soft and cozy. Not so with caregiving.

I propose the word,
That's more like it. Pressure, crank it down--nice and tight....

Teach your fifteen year old to drive and take your mother's care keys away--all in the same day.

Give your mother a bedtime and your 17 year old a curfew.

Have your MOM interrupt your "cuddle time" with your husband.

Fight with a doctor who has managed to talk your 89 year old mother into exploratory surgery.

Fire your home health aid for stealing...shall I go on?

Oh, and somehow try and not gain a hundred pounds from stress eating, try to teach and guide your children, try to stay civil and not whine and grip on the phone and run all your friends away. Try to stay pretty, warm, and tender.
Vise Grip. That's the word.
Sorry for the rant, but you asked:) If you'd like to read more about my "sandwich life" and how I (we, my family) survived,

MOTHERING MOTHER: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir is available on Amazon and in most bookstores.