The Sandwich Generation

It seems like I am not just a Baby Boomer, but I might also part of what is called the Sandwich Generation.

According to Wikipedia: “The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people (usually in their 40’s to 70’s) who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.”

Well, I am approaching the top of the age bracket. I usually spend one day a week caring for my eleven-month-old granddaughter. Most weeks, I spend part of two days enjoying the company of my ninety-two-year-old mother in law, although I would not call that “caring for” her.

I am not particularly fond of sandwiches. When I was growing up, my bologna or jelly and cheese sandwiches were made on soft white bread. I loved the filling of the jelly and cheese sandwiches my mom used to make, especially with swiss cheese. I was not wild about the soggy bread that soaked up the jelly.

If I am part of the sandwich generation, I am the part in the middle.

That implies, I guess, that my grandbaby, my children, and my mother-in-law are the soggy bread. I don’t look at it that way at all.

They are not soggy white bread. They are the artisan bread that gives meaning to the filling in between, that adds to its flavor.

Getting pregnant did not come easily to my daughter. I feel blessed to have a grandchild. Tuesdays are a mixture of laughter, delight and exhaustion. I can’t imagine life without that little slice of artisan bread that anchors me in place.

Then, there is my mother-in-law. My own mother died of leukemia at the age of forty-eight. I was twenty-three. For forty years my husband’s mother has been my own. She helped me in the midst of new motherhood. She has been there through it all. I could not have been luckier.

Currently, I laugh when I tell people that she has a better memory than my husband and I together. Her hearing is assisted by hearing aids. Her eyes are failing due to macular degeneration, leaving her unable to drive. I am glad that she is still with us and that my husband and I can visit her twice a week. My husband and I take her on errands and out to lunch while discussing the fate of her beloved St. Louis Cardinals. How lucky we are. I think she is more like a sturdy, old-fashioned piece of sourdough bread. Definitely not soggy.

My son and two daughters are all strong and independent. None of them are in need of financial support. Sometimes, the things they say to me are truly touching. They make me realize that I did as much right as I did wrong when raising them.

I am fortunate. I would like to redefine what it means to be part of the sandwich generation.

5 responses to “The Sandwich Generation

  1. Jelly and cheese sandwiches? I unfortunately don’t have as good a relationship with my father. It isn’t bad either, but not as good as the relationship I hope to have with my kids as they turn into adults. Looking at myself with my father, it’s not a surprise. My relationships aren’t so great with anyone who isn’t living in my house. There seems to be a defect. I’ve noticed that this might be changing though (at least it has recently) so perhaps I’ll get my act together to have a great relationship with my adult kids. Happy for you that those relationships are so fulfilling.

  2. Jeff, I think those sandwiches were an invention of my mother’s. But I really did like them. They sound gross now. There were a lot of tricky years when my kids were growing up. After they went away to college and heard stories of the family life of their friends they decided they didn’t have it so bad here after all.

  3. My favorite sandwich was cream cheese and salted peanuts so who am I to talk. I just worry because as my kids get older, we interact less and less (which is to be expected) but for some reason I expect that line to continue on until zero.

  4. My favorite sandwich to find in my lunch box was jelly and cream cheese sandwiches. Yum. Mostly though they were cheese, which was okay. Loved the reference to the artisan bread. I definitely think you are surrounded, or sandwiched, by that kind of strength/sturdiness as well.

  5. Yes, you are indeed lucky.

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