Today I went out for lunch to one of my favorite sandwich shops. I ordered a potential new favorite sandwich. It had turkey, lettuce, cheese, house dressing, salt, pepper, and my favorite sandwich ingredient, avocado. All of these ingredients were delicious on the garlic toasted bread.
My husband, John, and I have found ourselves in a stage of life that has been nicknamed the “Sandwich Generation,” the generation of people responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents. We are currently in the middle of caring for our three grown children and providing for the needs of my aging mother as well as my brother who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. While the ingredients to our “sandwich” aren’t near as delicious as the sandwich I had with my daughter today, the rewards are much tastier.
My husband, John, and I have found ourselves in a stage of life that has been nicknamed the “Sandwich Generation,” the generation of people responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents.
Here is what we are learning are the key ingredients to making the most of being in the “Sandwich Generation”:
Sometimes you just have to laugh. Whether you are laughing to keep from crying or laughing at something as silly as standing at the back door continuing to call your dog so that she will hear your voice because she is blind and can’t see where the door is. (Did I mention that we have one blind dog and one that is losing her hearing? I’m not sure where that fits into the “Sandwich,” but I will take a laugh wherever I can find it.)
Lack of control
Yes, I said that right. There are some parts of being in the Sandwich Generation that we don’t have any control over; whether it is decisions that our grown children make, an illness of a loved one, an accident that someone else caused, or just parts of life. While there are circumstances that we can’t control, we can control our response to those events. I don’t have control over A LOT of situations, but I know Who does have control and I have learned that I can trust Him.
There will be times that you feel you have to win every battle, and you will definitely have battle fatigue. Some battles you will encounter will have to be sidestepped for a while and given time to work themselves out. Other battles will need to be faced head on, but don’t feel the pressure that every battle has to be fought. Some days, I need to just face the obstacle in front of me. When my brother had his accident, the Lord reminded me of this verse, “The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Remember, the Lord has already gone before you.
You need to know who you are in Christ. I have to admit that I am a “people pleaser” and try to avoid conflict, but there are times that those you care for will not want to do what you recommend, sometimes they may even get angry. I have found that many times when someone gets angry with me, it really has nothing to do with me. I try to remember that I am a child of God and, as my husband reminds me, that I need to live for an audience of One. Putting my security in the One who made me and wants the very best for me helps me through those difficult times.
While being a part of “The Sandwich Generation” can be overwhelming at times, it’s important to make sure your spouse isn’t put on the back burner. Of all the relationships that I have, my relationship with my husband is the most important relationship and, often, the most overlooked relationship. We don’t always agree on everything. Sometimes we agree to disagree. We have learned that we can disagree, and still love each other. We often take time out of our schedule to spend time together and remember that our relationship is the most important relationship.
I recently read in Gentle and Lowly, by Dane C. Ortlund, that sometimes God leads us through the “valley of the shadow of death so that we can get to greener pastures.” When my brother had his accident and I became his legal guardian, I had no idea that through this tragedy, my brother and I would live close to each other, after he had spent his career in Germany. My sister-in-law and best friend, Debbie Howeth, recently asked me, “What happens when you go down a slide?” She told me that when you get to the bottom of a slide, you will be standing. So, as we ride on the slide of “The Sandwich Generation,” you’ll find me standing at the end of the slide with a delicious sandwich in my hand.