I’ve been living with my elderly parents this past month in their vacation home, and I’m getting a real taste of my place in the sandwich generation.
In an odd turn of events, my parents seem to need me more than my kids in every way. They need my help, they need my attention and they need my company.
It’s incredibly hard when suddenly you find yourself cutting up the food on your mother’s plate and your father comes to you to put bandages on a boo boo. You look at them and think, “who are you and what happened to my mom and dad?” Sometimes my mom isn’t even sure who I am, and my dad, who once helped run a successful company, gets flustered at the slightest thing.
In my head, of course I know what’s happened, but sometimes my heart aches for the strong individuals they once were. Sometimes I even have trouble remembering what they were like when I was a kid.
Meanwhile, my kids are becoming more independent by the minute. My 14-year-old is setting her alarm and getting herself ready for school. My almost teenage twins are off with friends the majority of the day, and even my 8-year-old has been riding his bike around the small community on his own.
I’m doing my best to be patient with Mom and Dad. I want to set a good example for my kids — to show them what it means to be compassionate and caring even when I’m not always feeling it.
Because one day, in the not to distant future, they will be the ones cutting the meat on my plate and tending to my husbands boo boos. I hope we always remember who they are.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 14, Lilly, 12, Adam, 12, and Jonah, 8.