Notes from a Drama Queen

Sandwich Generation

Monday, January 26, 2009

So did you think I got my office cleaned out? Ha! I got half the desk cleared off where I make my jewelry, plus emptied one banker's box that held some of my old Signet books (my agent has received interest from Thailand, of all places, for Nightfall and Moonrise and the like). But that's it. Nothing in my bedroom either, which is worse.
I did, however, write thirty pages in between rushing around doing things for other people, so it could be worse. I'd rather have the writing done than the cleaning, any day.

Do the rest of you end up doing everything for everybody? I'm a part of the sandwich generation, and my 21 year old son is at home, as well as my 94 year old mother living down the road. My 64 year old sister is disabled (two miles away), and my husband has suddenly had to take over runnning his mother's estate (she's 91 and just down the road in the nursing home with late stage Alzheimers).

Everyone seems to need me to do something. To visit my mother (who otherwise would go nuts with the isolation -- she doesn't know anyone else around here and she's not a very social person). To help my son deal with college applications and forms and transcripts. (He's got some learning issues so secretarial type help really comes in handy).
I have to do the food shopping (while Richie struggles with taking over the estate and see about renting the albatross of a house on the lake). Have to spend time with my last remaining friend in this unfriendly little town (we sew together and it's good for my mental health and I love it but it's still one more thing taking my time).

There's cooking (Tim and Richie do half) and cleaning (ha! what's that?) and doctor's appointments 75 miles away. Plus taking my mother any place she has to go (checks for her coumadin level, food shopping, arranging for her car for the summer, paying her bills (I took over her finances). Luckily my disabled sister has a SO to do a lot of stuff, but he's monumentally grumpy and trying to get her to do more for herself (which she should) so I end up taking up the slack for her (transporting her to appointments, etc).


It's something so many of us are going through. It's worse when you've got a refilled nest. I think if I managed to carve some space out of my horrendous office I might feel better. If I felt I had my cave. The kids are still in the pull me pull you stage so I can't redo their bedrooms, but somehow or other I've got to find some kind of physical and psychic space in the midst of all the demands so I can do what I love to do.

So all you other prisoners of the Sandwich Generation -- how do you manage? Do you have any advice for me as I go slowly mad in northern Vermont?


Blogger Jenny said...

You should go visit a friend in Ohio and stay for a long time.

10:56 AM  
Blogger NotBarb said...

Yes, I'm in the sandwich generation, too, but Anne, you are the most sandwiched person I know right now. There is WAY too much on your plate, poor baby.

Please take good care of yourself emotionally, physically, and professionally or you can't be there for anyone else.

Hopefully this is a short term will be found to take some of the concern off you. In the meantime, please take care of yourself and vent to us whenever needed!

11:32 PM  
Blogger chrys said...

You absolutely have to take care of yourself by making sure you do your wellcare visits to your doctor & follow up with any issues, & also find a little time to just "be bad" - like reading in a hot bubble bath until you are past prune. We are trying to help my mother clean out her house so she can move into a retirement community that has independent living, assisted living, and a nursing home, all on the same campus. She currently lives over 2 hours away. Once her house is fixed up, cleaned out, and sold, we can breathe a bit. My husband is trying to use alternating weekends (one weekend at home, one at her house) to design & build a "manroom type" shed to house my dad's old tools. I clean a little bit on the weekends we are home, but not much. We have a teen at home who needs rides to swimming practice or meets 5 days a week - and I attend every meet she has. We have a son in college who has decided to add an extra year on to complete a double major & has plans for grad school. Well, with the ecomomy as it is, maybe he should stay in school as long as possible. But he's broke & struggling so we help any way we can. You take care, and hope you find long term solutions for the elder members of your family. The younger members will always be a soap opera. Have a great 2009!

8:13 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hi. This is my first blog - ever. So please be patient with me if I waffle.

I think madness is the sign of a healthy mind in this instance. At least, I hope so! I have two small children (4 & 7), one husband, and a 20yr old nephew living with me. So, essentially, I have four children, all in a small house.

Everyone wants a part of you, so much so that you go to the supermarket that's 15 mins away, and have to ring home to ask your other half what the heck you went there for in the first place.

As you can see by my post time, the only time I have to myself is after they've all gone to bed. That quiet time is what saves my sanity.

I agree with Chrys - take that bubble bath, make sure you put on some j-rock (you've made me a convert after I took your tute at the Australian RWA conference - much to my husband's disgust.
Every time he sets foot in my car, I have a Japanese album in the cd player.)

I only add but one thing - a full bottle of whatever wine takes your fancy. The wine is the key!

P.S. Make sure you lock the door. I don't know if they still do it at 21, but my kids think mummy in the bath is a perfect time to annoy her! Take care.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Salome said...

It's not easy, as I WELL know. We are four generations in this house. My house. If you treat your elders well when they need it, your kids will treat you well when YOU need it. As for the cave, sometimes it just has to be between your iPod and your brain.

Why do you say your town is unfriendly?

5:34 PM  

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