There’s a lot of talk these days about the sandwich generation… those who have kids to care for but now are also taking on the responsibility of caring for aging parents. It’s a phenomenon, until now, that I’d read about with detached interest. My parents were in their early sixties, what did I need to worry about caring for them, I had my own kids to worry about. Just a handful of years later, I find myself facing that reality head on. My father is gone and my widowed mother is fighting stage four colorectal cancer alone.
The sandwich analogy is a good one… though I’m feeling less sandwiched as I am stretched out. With young kids, a teenage step-daughter newly moved in, a military husband, a fledgling writing career and now a mother dealing with surgeries and an increasing lengthy course of chemotherapy, pieces of me are being pulled in a lot of different directions. Some days it hardly feels like there are enough left to make a whole person.
I used to think of myself as an octopus mom. I would try to do too much and be everything to everybody (I’m one of those moms that feels compelled to bring muffins to parent and tot and have fresh baked goodies for every playdate!). The last few months have been good for me in that sense. I literally have not been able to do everything I would like to do. The Boy, not only, did not get to bring homemade treats to his Valentines Day party, in the end he didn’t even get to go. All three kids not only survived but thrived in their father’s sole care while I had to go live with my mother for a few weeks (not that I doubted his parenting skills – he’s a great daddy – but boys need a mommy around!).
I’ve been reflecting a lot over the past few days about what this last few months have taught me. I mean, such chaos has to at least produce some good doesn’t it? I am trying to make sure I give the kids quality time, even if it’s just in small doses. Taking five minutes to play a game or letting The Boy help with dinner, even if there is very little he can really do, produces positive results and, when I let myself step out of my life and my responsibilities, I enjoy it too. I think maybe that’s the lesson, that even though life can be overwhelming, I can still make the choice to stop and be in the moment, and make that moment count.
It’s not easy and there’s no way I’m even getting close to any kind of Zen parenting. I have been making some strides in the last few days but my stress level is patently obvious in the way I still snap at the kids and raise my voice too often but maybe even just writing it down will help the ideas sink into my subconscious. It can’t help right?
PS – sorry for the blog hiatus and thank you to all of you who posted such nice comments and well wishes.