When I started this blog in May 2013, I felt like the sweet and sticky substance smashed between two slices of bread before it is accidently ground into an expensive Persian rug. For most of my life or so it seemed, I had been hearing about “the sandwich generation”–those adults who were raising young families while caring for an elderly family member. In my mind, they were all older than I am. They were Baby Boomers. They were people who had burned bras and draft notices before settling into jobs on Wall Street and making the transition from “hippie” to “yuppie.” I couldn’t possibly be one of them. I was a child of the 80s.
But there I was. I had two pre-school aged children and my mother-in-law was living with us. Sometimes, I would say, “My mother-in-law lives with us” and someone would respond, “Oh, how nice! I bet she is a great help with the children,” probably because her in-laws were twenty years younger than mine and driving her kids to and from ballet lessons. Then, I would have to choose–let it go and change the subject or explain, “No, my mother-in-law is very old. She has dementia. She’s in a wheelchair. It’s like having a 100 lb. newborn who is always cranky.”
I choose to explain a lot. Why? I’m not sure. I guess I wanted people to know that I wasn’t being slack or irresponsible when I didn’t volunteer to chair a committee or coach tee-ball. I wanted them to know that my schedule was full and my life was stressful–and not just because I had small children. “Parenthood is a cakewalk compared to elder-care,” I might tell them.
And I was reaching out. I wanted to find other people in my situation–very young children at home and a very old parent/in-law. Surprisingly, I didn’t find many households with ages ranging from three to eighty-eight.
That is where I was and who I was when I began this blog.
On March 26, 2014, my mother-in-law died in her sleep. At her funeral, no fewer than six people asked me, “So, what are you going to do tomorrow?” and I shrugged. I just didn’t have an answer at the time. Now, I have one. What am I doing now that my mother-in-law’s care doesn’t dominate my life? Everything I have not been able to do in the past two years.
I won’t lie. After my mother-in-law fell (that’s what caused her rapid deterioration) and my father-in-law died, I experienced the hardest two years of my adult life. I wouldn’t wish this particular set of hardships on anyone, but having lived a sandwich-life, I do feel profoundly changed for the better. I regret nothing. I would take my mother-in-law into my home and care for her all over again if I had to. And I am shocked that I feel that way!
So, what’s this blog about now that I no longer feel like peanut-butter? Life? Love? God? Happiness? Faith? Hope? Family? Dressing room mirrors? Archaeology? Very random stuff? Sure.
I’m going to keep writing. I hope you will keep reading.