I’m always happily surprised when people tell me that they read my blog. Even if you are just staring at a computer or a smart-phone because you are procrastinating, the choices of where you might spend your screen time are endless, and yet, you are here. I’m flattered. I’m humbled.
In the days that followed my mother-in-law’s death, I had several people tell that they have been following my blog and ask, “Will you keep writing?”
To be fair, not too many people know that I have been keeping a journal since my early twenties; I’ve started, but never finished several novels; I was published in my college literary magazine; my undergrad degree is in writing; and I made it all the way through graduate school with making at least an A- on every writing assignment. Please don’t ask me about my grades in Calculus.
I did most of the writing at most of the jobs I’ve held or that I had my own newspaper column for a year and a half. It’s just that my blog is the first thing I’ve ever written that anyone has ever read—besides Facebook statuses. And I will continue writing because I don’t know how not to write.
Perhaps the real question behind the inquiries has more to do with the fate of this specific blog. Will I continue writing in it? Yes.
I started this blog after my mother-in-law had been living with us for eight months. Our housekeeper had quit after months of transportation, communication, and child-care problems, and my mother-in-law had been hospitalized twice in the course of just two weeks. I was stuck at home, canceling plans, and feeling resentful—not towards my mother-in-law or anyone else. I was resenting the circumstances in which I had to tell my very young children that no, we weren’t going to a birthday party after all because we didn’t have anyone to watch Grandma. It’s a hard conversation to have.
During that same period of my life, I had a number of people tell me that being a part of the sandwich generation was a common thing. “People are living longer and having children later in life. So, there must be millions of families just like yours,” I was told. Yet, ours was the only household I knew of that had an age range of 85 years. Besides, I knew that most people in my mother-in-law’s condition were in nursing homes, and every time her health took a turn for the worse, I was wondering, “Is this it?” I’m sure it wasn’t a new experience for all of human-kind, but it was completely unfamiliar to me.
I went to monthly elder-care support group meetings where I was the youngest person participant. Everyone else was in their 60s or older and they were all caring for a parent who was in better shape than my mother-in-law. They had questions about how to convince dad to give up driving or when they should take over mom’s checkbook. Yeah, we skipped right over all that.
The next day, I might go to a playground and overhear two moms talking, and one would say, “My in-laws are watching the kids for the weekend, so we are going away for our anniversary.” Wow! Grandparents who can babysit? For an entire weekend? That, too, is so outside of my experiences.
So, sure, 1 in 8 Americans between 40 and 60 may be caring for an older relative, but still, I was—and remain—convinced that our situation was pretty extreme. It was extreme enough to give me something unique to write about. And so, a blog was born.
I’m going to keep blogging and I’m keeping Peanut Butter on Rye, instead of starting over with a new blog. Obviously, I need to update the home page—new text and new picture—just so it will be more in keeping with who I am and where I am right now. I’m not in a hurry to make those changes, but I know they are coming. My only plan for this blog is to take my time and just be open to wherever inspiration takes me.