Sunday, September 7, 2014


We've all eaten them.  Simple concept, two slices of bread, and something in between.  The bread can be plain or fancy, loaf or rolls, white or wheat.  The insides can be anything-----from PBJ to whatever you can imagine.  Some sandwiches are small, some so thick you can barely squeeze them enough to get them in your mouth.  Some are crust less, or cut into quarters, or better yet, triangles-----PBJ triangle sandwiches just taste different, you know?  The key is, the sandwich isn't known by the bread, it's known by what's inside.  You never have a white bread sandwich-----you have a ham and cheese sandwich.  The bread is what holds it together, but the filling defines it.

Then there's the Sandwich  generation, which is a whole different concept.  I'm beginning to think it's all about the bread, and the filling is just what's stuck in the middle.  Right now, I'm the filling, but I sure don't feel like I'm the defining part.  On either side of me is a generation (or two), one with lots of needs, more than they've ever had in my lifetime, and one with not as many as they used to have, which redefines my relationship with both of them.  While society is telling me the benefits of being an empty nester, I'm learning that the truth is far from that.  True, no one else is living in my house except my husband and I, but between us we have 3 elderly parents with various needs, two sons, two daughters-in-law, one granddaughter and a soon to arrive second granddaughter.

The older generation has needs, and we're the ones designated to meet those needs.  Memories are failing, driving skills aren't what they used to be, doctors appointments have to be made, paperwork needs to be done, decisions have to be made, sudden events happen which require is to drop everything and go.  So there are all of these "have to" things going on, and at the same time there are the just "we need to" visits to arrange.  We manage to plan a visit, honestly, sometimes out of guilt and nothing else, only to be met by "we can't remember the last time we saw you" or "when will you come again"?  In with guilt, out with guilt.  Great visit.

At the same time, our kids are living their own lives, taking care of themselves/wives/families, independently, as they should.  But we find ourselves wishing for more time with them, wanting to know what they're doing, how their lives are going, what their dreams are, what their stresses are, what joys or hardships they are experiencing.  But because we feel so much guilt coming from the 'other side' of the sandwich, we don't want to put our children in the same place that we feel, and we therefore err on the side of staying away, seeming uninterested, so as not to put them in the position that we feel of the "you need to/should/ought to," which isn't the message we want to convey to them at all.  And then we end of feeling out of touch with them, which just makes us sad.

There ought to be a way to balance this sandwich.  I feel like it's one of those where the bread keeps sliding off with the tomato, until you're down to nothing but the filling, except in our case, the filling is sliding away and there's going to be nothing left to give to either half of the sandwich.  And once the filling is off the bread, it's usually pretty unappetizing, lying on the plate.  

I want to have my sandwich, and eat it, too.