Stuck in the Middle: The Sandwich Generation

We have all heard of millennials, Gen X’ers, and baby boomers. But there is one generation that doesn’t get as much hype or enough praise: the Sandwich Generation. This generation is one that is “sandwiched” between two families, often providing care for both. Many moms (and dads) I know are caring for their own children, all while trying to support and care for aging and ailing parents. And it’s hard. 

While my situation isn’t as dire as some, the writing’s on the wall in my case. I am an only child and my parents are aging and their health is declining quicker than I would like to admit. While they are still able to live independently together, all it takes is a fall or a mishap at home and everything could change.

My mom uses a walker or wheelchair, so her mobility is already a challenge to both her and my dad. I often worry that if she were left alone, she wouldn’t be able to live on her own, and then what?

the sandwich generation: daughter with child and grandmother on couch looking at tabletInto the Unknown 

For those in the Sandwich Generation, the unknown is terrifying. We (my nuclear family) are trying to plan for our future, which is tough because there is so much that is uncertain. Will my parents have to come and live with us? How will that impact my family’s day-to-day life? Will it impact my marriage? How will it impact my children? There are a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to, but I think the topic is important to think about.

We are considering moving in the next few years. When thinking of our dream home, I either want a ranch or a home with a first floor master bedroom. This is not for my own benefit, but for the possibility that my parents or my in-laws may need to come and live with us or stay for an extended period of time. They are all in their 70’s and it is getting harder and harder for them to tackle the stairs. I also have walk-in showers and ADA height toilets on my list of must-haves. 

Love is an Open Door

When my husband and I were first married, he knew he was marrying an only child. He also knew that because of my only child status, he would probably have to help (either physically or financially) with my parents as they age. One of my biggest concerns as part of the Sandwich Generation is the impact this will have on my marriage.

Sharing a living space with your in-laws is less than ideal in any situation. I honestly don’t know if my marriage could handle having the extra pressure of having our parents live with us. It would be a challenge for sure.

We have always said, “Love me, love my family”. That will be the case if one of our parents has to come and live with us. While it would never be ideal, we would always do our best to make it work and live in harmony. This might be easier said than done, but we are both on the same page. 

Some Things Never Change

Although my marriage and sanity are big concerns, I am mostly concerned with my children. I love the relationship my kids have with their grandparents right now. They get to be grandparents!

My kids are not being constantly disciplined or looked after by grandma and grandpa. My parents get to do fun things with my kids and then send them home. I am worried that if we were living together, that relationship would be changed, and not for the better. 

I also worry that if grandparents were living in the same home as my kids, they would do even more spoiling than they do now. Special things happen at Grandma and Grandpa’s. But if grandma and grandpa are under the same roof, those “special things” might turn into more day-to-day occurrences. 

While the future is uncertain, I know for sure I will do whatever I can to help our parents. They have taken on the role of secondary caretakers for my children while my husband and I work. We have no control over what lies ahead. But if we are ever called to provide care for our parents, as part of the Sandwich Generation, we will step up and do what needs to be done.

If you find yourself in this situation, know you are not alone. You can read another perspective on grandparents here.


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