The Sandwich Generation: Caregivers for both their Parents and their Own Children (and sometimes Grandchildren) being judged by their Peers for not “pulling their load” or being where they should be”
I have heard the comments over and over. Directed at many people, for many different reasons. Sometimes directed at me. At times whispered behind my back and “secretly” told by a friend of a “friend” and then the hardest to take, comments made directly to me by a “friend”.
To what am I referring? The ever increasing lack of time available to the baby boomer generation to be available due to many different variables and our increasingly judgmental society’s lack of recognition, sensitivity and plain ole’ lack of spirit of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.
According to CNN’s Library, updated today 3/11/14, (CNN) - Here’s a look at what you need to know about the Baby Boomer generation, the generation of Americans born between 1946, the end of World War II, and 1964. They are the largest generation of Americans born in U.S. history.
The message I want to point out in this blog is this very large generation of Baby Boomers because of the size and increase in the average life span along with other factors face a unique challenge. We Baby Boomers, often find ourselves Caregivers of parents and/or grandparents along with our own children and sometimes grandchildren.
Without going into a big explanation of sociological dynamic changes with these situations and the stressors it can cause, I want to tell you my story. While my story by far is NOT the most problematic, not the most heartbreaking and, there are far more complicated situations, it is an example of what can occur and cause people to mis-understand, judge and cause MORE stress in an already stressful situation.
My family consist of 5 blended children, ages 25, 25, 20, 17. & 13. In the past 12 years the following things have occurred in our family directly related to our caregiving abilities and to a parent or grandparent. Please bear with my story - I tell it not for sympathy but to show a point at the end.
-Both of my grandmothers were terminally ill and died.
- My Mother in law broke her leg, had to have surgery, then 5 years ago had moved in with us because she could no longer live on her on. She is 92 now and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. Someone has to be here with her most of the time, especially in the evenings and at night.
- My then 7 year-old son had an illness that required a lot of attention, scared us to death and we took a lot time off work and spent time back and forth to Children’s Hospital.
- Our second oldest daughter married and had two children age 6 & 2 now. She is in school to be a teacher and will graduate in May. We try to help her when we can. This time interferes at times with events and time with our children who are still at home.
- Our oldest daughter got married and is an Rn and lives out of town.
- I have had a shoulder reconstruction, a back surgery, several medical procedures , 3 stays in ICU, once on a ventilator unresponsive for several days, learned I was having seizures and have not been able to work for two and half years after having worked for 30. I am now disabled. On the last family vacation I was not able to go down on the beach. I just had another MRI on my back. I have to take medication for seizures now and other medications which have a lot of side effects.
- My father has been having significant neurological problems for the past two years. He has been going to multiple doctors to determine what is wrong.
- My stepmother has significant heart and musculoskeletal problems, has no insurance and I am trying to assist her to get insurance and get her medication samples from her doctors.
- Our family has been through several crises of which no one outside the family is aware.
My children are my most precious gifts. Do I think it is important to be at all of their events? Absolutely!
Am I a Christian and do I think it is important to go to church with my children? Without a doubt.
Am I at all of my child’s events? No I am not.
Do I attend church every Sunday with my children? No I do not.
I am not going to give any excuses or reasons why I have or have not.
What I would like to say is I wish I had not had the ADDED STRESS of having it pointed out to me by multiple people that I had not been attending my child Events regularly. There is NO ONE that is more aware than ME I am not there.
I want to EDUCATE PEOPLE. Please think about what you are about to say.
For instance I know one father who is never at his daughtet’s events because he works 3 jobs. I don’t think many, if any of the other parentS are aware. I know another mother who never attends because she becomes so anxious when she is around large crowds. Just because you “might not ever miss” your child’s event” doesnt mean that it is right to judge another parent for not attending. You dont know their story.
I want to ask that you think before you speak…
- to someone who is a caregiver to multiple family members
- to someone who is in a stressful situation
-to a mother or father who may not be there because they are working 3 jobs- not because they cant be there.
- to someone who has health problems - they may be health problems you don’t understand or the health problems are not visible.
And most of all:
If you cannot be encouraging, if you cannot be nice, please, just don’t say anything, anything at all.
If you hurt someone and you regret it… FIX IT!!
It really is that simple…
Don’t make it complicated…
It is NOT about YOU!
It is is about the one YOU hurt.
Do the right thing!
Not the EASY THING!
Life is not about doing what is easy. It is ALL ABOUT doing what is right, what is real and what is in your heart not what makes you feel good for the moment.
-Tammy W Swindall