When I first heard the term “sandwich generation”, I thought…that sounds right. “Adult
children who are ‘sandwiched’ between their aging parents and their own maturing children.”
Yep. That made sense.
Mom got sick and now “sandwich generation” feels wrong
Then my mom got sick. Really, really sick. And now the sandwich generation feels wrong. Sandwiches are good. In fact, they are delicious. How many times have I ordered a salad when I really wanted a turkey club – and not just because it came with fries?
Sandwiches are easy. Grab and go. A one-handed meal to eat while having fun or being productive.
Sandwiches bring back happy memories of childhood. Picnics. Bag school lunches. Peanut butter and jelly on a hot summer day. But nothing about my experience right now is good – or easy – or happy. It’s just hard. So unbelievably hard.
A sandwich implies that you are in one place with your parents and your children safely hugging you from either side. Maybe at times you are a little “squished” but there you are in the middle of the family. Secure. Solid. Connected.
My heart feels like it has exploded into a million pieces
My mom is sick and there is no cure. My children are growing up and moving out. I am consumed with worry and fear and loss. I feel like my heart has shattered. It has exploded into a million pieces that I will never be able to find. The “I am so sad I can barely breathe generation” feels more like a more accurate description for where I am right now.
I wish I could hold my mom and keep her safe. I love her with everything that I am. I am so grateful for the life and love and support she has given me. When I am with her, I feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be.
But while I am with my mom, I am not with my children. These last few moments of our life at home together are slipping through my grasping hands. When I get back to them, I feel like I am exactly where I am meant to be.
I need to figure out how to be in two places at once
Somehow, I am meant to be in two different places, playing two different roles at exactly the same time with a literal count down of the moments left available in each place, for each role.
The clock is ticking. I am torn every day.
My heart is broken that my mom is dying. My heart is breaking that my children are leaving.
Opportunities for our whole family to be together are fewer and further between. A family photo takes on a new – and if I am honest, irrational – level of importance. I feel like there are so many “lasts” and trying to make them all count is exhausting.
I feel emotionally unstable at best. Anything and everything can break me. I need to continually remind myself that I’m not really upset we didn’t get a good family photo – I’m sad that my mom is dying.
I’m not really upset that the dishwasher broke – I’m sad that my kids are moving away. And digging deeper, even the intensity of the emotions around my kids leaving probably has more to do with my mom being sick than it does with them growing up and moving out.
There is so much sadness
There are so many layers to the sadness. I am constantly trying to stay focused on the real issues and not let the pain come out sideways.
In a beautiful article published on Grown and Flown, a mom wrote that her son was getting married and she would no longer be his “soft place to land.” With my oldest son engaged, that literally wrecked me. I was in tears – and still tear up every time I think of those words. (Did I mention I’m a little emotional these days?)
I showed my husband the line. His mom passed away six years ago, and he said – without hesitation – that no matter what, there is still nothing better than your mom. It touched my heart.
To hear this strong, practical, independent man state – without a second thought – that even though his mom is gone, she is forever his touch point took my breath away.
There is nothing better than your mom.
It gives me peace thinking about losing my mom that she will always be my touch point. Even when she’s gone, she will always be my mom.
It gives me peace thinking about my children leaving that I will always be their touch point. Even when they are grown, I will always be their mom.
I keep this in my heart as I love and let go of my mom, as I love and let go of my children, as I move through this very difficult time…there is nothing better than your mom.
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