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Jun 1, 201811:19 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Lonely in the Middle

Being the caretaker of a sick parent is harder when you’re also the only surviving sibling.

The “sandwich generation”: It’s the sort of phrase that means nothing to you – until it suddenly becomes your life. 

And unlike static generational descriptors – Baby Boomers, Gen X – almost everyone can expect to spend some time in the sandwich generation at some point in their lives.

The phrase, for those who don’t know, refers to those “sandwiched” between caring for young children and aging parents, and it’s where I found myself Wednesday when I was splitting my time between trying to celebrate Georgia’s sixth birthday (which came with a whole host of bittersweet feelings about my baby’s growing up) – buying presents and a Happy Meal as a special treat, going to dinner, taking her swimming, baking a cake; helping Ruby, who is in St. Louis with her dad, reset her email password and find her summer reading book; and trying to convince my dad, who was having some scary symptoms, to go to his doctor.

I think, ultimately, I was as successful as possible. Georgia said it was “the best birthday ever,” although it could’ve used “more presents”; Ruby got everything under control; my dad went to the doctor yesterday and has tests scheduled for Monday.

It’s a stressful place to be, but that’s kind of the price of admission for having a family you love and care about.

It is, however, also a time I am acutely aware of the loss of my siblings. Although, realistically, I know that were they both still alive, they would probably just be still more people for me to take care of and worry about, I do sometimes fantasize about how nice it would be to have allies in this, how comforting it would be, were they both alive and functional humans, to have someone to talk to, to help assess, to complain to, to share my fears and my frustrations, to understand my exasperation mixed with love and fear.

My mom is wonderful (although I worry about her, too) – even though she and my dad have been divorced for almost 30 years, they still love each other, and she spent much of Wednesday checking up on him, too. It was a huge relief to know that she was in my corner.

My husband is great, of course, understanding and supportive and calm in a crisis. He definitely picked up my slack on Georgia’s birthday celebration while also making sure I understood the limits of what I could control re: my father and forcing him to seek care, trying to tell me to not beat myself up about anything.

And my kids are delightful, charming distractions, who keep me focused and motivated, remind me what really matters, and make me laugh even when I’m sick with worry.

Still, though, as grateful as I am for all of them, I can’t deny that I miss my siblings. Being in this “sandwich generation” would be better if I had them to be the avocado or cheese or some other delicious sandwich filling metaphor here in the middle with me.

 

 

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

        Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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