July is Sandwich Generation month!
Or at least a google search led me to believe that it was at one point. Nonetheless, we are declaring it at St. Louis Moms Blog!
No, not the yummy food that has become my go-to for lunch since quarantine, but the term used to describe those giving care to both children and aging parents at the same time. Although I’m soooo happy to get a month that acknowledges my specific situation, I have to admit I was pretty unfamiliar with it until recently.
Let’s get acquainted.
What is the Sandwich Generation?
The Sandwich Generation was coined in the early 1980s (why does that sound so long ago?) by a social worker named Dorothy Miller to describe women in the Babyboomer generation caring for both parents and young children. The term has since grown to include women and men, a wider age range, and those caring for older adults and younger children. Many additional factors contribute to the more inclusive use of the term in this generation, such as smaller family sizes, women delaying childbirth, more women having full-time careers, and a longer life expectancy for most Americans.
I became a sandwicher in 2015 when I had my oldest son, after moving back to St. Louis in 2013, to be with my mother once her health began declining. I personally never thought I would be in this group, but I can say that I love each person that requires that I bear this title!
Looking back, I remember watching my mother take care of her two children while helping my grandmother. I felt my grandmother relied on my mother a lot because she lived the closest of her children, but that could’ve just been my perspective growing up.
It was really good to have my mom as such a great role model being a caregiver, especially now that it’s my turn. She was usually patient and went out of her way for her mother – and she was a single mother herself!
However, I’m only one of two siblings, and you guessed it! I live the closest to my mom – well, we actually live together. My husband, my mother, and my three and four-year-old all share one big house!
How to Manage Taking Care of Others
One thing I can say is that I’ve become excellent at multi-tasking. I’m a mom. On most days, I squeeze in part-time work, get dinner ready, do some laundry, and on a good day, I can catch up on a TV show.
However, being a sandwicher can also leave me drained! I mean, there are some days when the only thing that keeps my sanity is prayer and knowing that tomorrow always brings a new day. At one point, I even quit my full-time job to meet the demands of my family. That’s a decision that I became very proud of, but I can’t say that I don’t still ponder the consequences for my career or the what-ifs.
I’ve also learned the importance of family. Quarantine especially taught me the blessing of having time together. I was so accustomed to using my time to be busy. I didn’t even realize how much distance that can create in a family.
My children enjoy this new normal as well. They have grown a lot closer to my mom. I think they go to her to get a break from me, but it’s okay with me. It feels like a family should, like we are all in this together.
Well, I’ll keep my thoughts short for my fellow sandwichers because let’s be honest, you have other stuff to do! I encourage anyone who gives most of their time taking care of others to take time for yourself this month! I know it’s hard, but at the very least, take an extra deep breath the next time you feel some sunshine. Say something positive to yourself to appreciate yourself for all you do – especially because others often just don’t understand. Be kind to yourself because you just may be setting the example for your children on how they will someday take care of you.
Most importantly, be encouraged; you are not alone!