“First we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children.” ~Milton Greenblatt
I often bump into people who don’t realize I made a career change a few years ago; they still see me as the “powerful corporate” woman who successfully balanced work, family, not knowing that I lost my mom to cancer and that I am now juggling coaching clients, family, and the care of my Dad. Yes, the sandwich generation has taken root in my life.
Holding down the home front is trying; there are many days the kids struggle to get out of bed and I am yelling “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!” as I grab the car keys and we rush out, so they can get to school on time.
My older son makes his bed, keeps his room clean, does his laundry, stays on top of schoolwork and coordinates his after-school activities and baseball practices efficiently and effectively. My younger son still relies on me for a variety of things, however, he is quite adept at managing his social life, making breakfast, preparing snacks, and cleaning his room.
There are several factors that come into play as I see my boys take on more responsibility: maturity, guidance from my husband and me, Boy Scouts, and their desire to be more independent.
It seems like the older the kids get, the less they need me.
As I see changes in my boys, I also see changes in my Dad. Since my mom’s death, my Dad is fine handling the physical household tasks of laundry, dishes, and grocery shopping but the mental tasks like paying bills, balancing the checkbook, and tax preparation (all the things my mom used to do) or making his travel plans – all of it falls on me. Despite being independent, he is taking very slight baby steps toward dependence.
It seems like the older my Dad gets, the more he needs me.
There are times I think about how great it would be to go back to work full time but the sandwich I have on my plate right now is filled with the best ingredients: my husband, my boys, and my Dad. Like a Dagwood sandwich, my challenge is to hold on to the bread in such a way, so I can take a bite without the yummy stuff falling out all over the place. It takes skill, effort, and focus to keep the sandwich intact and besides -life is too short to miss out on those quality ingredients.