In the Sandwich Generation, I am an open-faced tuna melt

April 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , , , , )

The “Sandwich Generation” refers to the generation that is raising kids as well as taking care of their parents.  That doesn’t accurately describe me; I don’t have any kids of my own, although I have a step-daughter from Malcolm’s first marriage.  Now however, as the eldest of my parent’s three daughters, the responsibility of keeping an eye on my mother and keeping track of my her affairs has fallen largely to me.  Which is fine for the most part.  Those who know me  know I am organized enough to handle both my mother’s affairs as well as my own.  Those who know me really well know I am a total control FREAK, and am therefore, of the three of us, probably the best-suited for this job.  At least, that’s what I tell myself when I need help getting through the insane moments.

And OH. MY. GOSH!  Are there insane moments!  The stubbornness, the self-diagnosing, the stubbornness, the second-guessing… and have I mentioned the stubbornness?  And as exasperating as it can get, I KNOW what’s behind it all.  My mother doesn’t want to be “old”, because her definition of old is needing someone to take care of her, and losing her independence.  And as Mom enters her 70’s, her independence is more important to her than anything else in this world.

And you know, I totally get it.  So I do everything I can to make sure she keeps her independence for as long as possible.  Which basically means that she and I, along with my two sisters, work as a team to keep her healthy.  And the best way to keep her healthy is by making sure she takes her prescriptions on schedule and eats three meals/day.  No excuses accepted and no stubbornness allowed.

I know the day will come when she is unable to live unassisted.  And when that happens, I don’t know if I’ll be able to take care of her daily needs or if we’ll have to consider other options.  But one thing I DO know is I will be just as committed to her quality of life and happiness as she was to mine when I was growing up.  Because as my mother and my friend, she deserves no less.

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Living in the moment

April 3, 2009 at 9:42 am (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , )

For so long, I lived in perpetual chaos.  Rushing to get somewhere, stressing over meeting a deadline, worrying about someone dropping in before the house looked “decent” (forget about “perfect”!), trying to do it all … because this is what women do, right?

My thoughts were consumed with the future…

– what do I prepare for dinner tonight? 

– how can I juggle everything to get that project done by Thursday? 

– I’m donating blood and stressing because I’m going to be late for my next appointment in 30 minutes.  Can I FORCE this blood to leave my body any faster through sheer willpower alone?

… and regrets and guilt about the past…

– one of Malcolm’s customers dropped by and I was embarrassed by the latest load of laundry still piled high on the sofa, exactly where I left it when I brought it from the dryer, intending to fold it and put it away … before I got sidetracked;

– I had to work late to meet a deadline.  That left Malcolm alone all evening, and by the time I got home, he was already in bed, sound asleep.  And the guilt I felt wasn’t because it was so late when I finally got there – he gets up for work at 1:00 a.m., so he goes to bed at an insanely early hour – nor was it because he’s incapable of being alone … it’s just that home with him is where I really wanted to be;

– I was tired when I left the office … too tired to make a five-minute stop to put gas in the car.  Then the next day I’d stress over whether I had enough gas left to get back to the filling station … where IS that extra gas can, anyway? … and IS there any gas left in it? … just in case???

Though not of my own design, and certainly not of  my own wishes, my life has slowed down lately.  Drastically.  But I’m beginning to realize this is okay.  For the first time in a long time, I’m beginning to live in the moment.  I’m appreciating the small things.  The things that I took for granted every day.  The things I never gave a moment’s thought to.  Like ….

– when I close my eyes and inhale the intoxicating aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, time freezes for that one exquisite moment, and everything in my world is completely right;

– when I open my front door and take that first step outside, I feel the sun on my face, smell a mixture of fading winter and emerging spring, and hear the sound of melting, dripping snow mingled with the joyous music of precocious songbirds;

– when I go about my daily housekeeping chores, with gospel music blaring to keep me company, I sing along at full volume and actually listen to the lyrics, sometimes truly hearing them for the first time…

I have begun discovering the joy of living in the moment.  And with it, peace.  Because when I’m focusing only on the moment, I don’t stress about the past.  I don’t worry about the future.  I am here.  Now.  And for these short moments in time, I am fully alive, and that’s all that really matters.

Permalink 1 Comment