I’m taking a break from parenting this long August weekend. 

IMG_1782

There’s nothing like taking a break from anything to give you perspective on whatever it is you’re taking a break from.  I’ve been reflecting upon this transitional stage of parenting that I’m in as I find myself fully engaged in the ‘sandwich generation’ life. 

Those of us ‘sandwich generation’ parents are balancing, or struggling to balance, parenting our own children while increasingly taking on more responsibilities with our aging parents. 

A recent Harriss Poll in the states found that “of the 20 million U.S. “Sandwichers” 53% feel forced to choose between neglecting either their parents’ needs or their kids’ needs at least ONCE EACH WEEK, and that 20% of Sandwichers make this stressful decision EVERY DAY!” 

          I can relate to those findings.  This is my life. 

The week before this mini-holiday that my husband and I are on (alone, just the two of us, and our companionable Schipperke), I had to kick my son out of his bedroom (again) to accommodate my mom.  Usually he’s pretty gracious about tidying his room, and sleeping in his ‘pit’ when grandma spends the occasional night, but this time he expressed some feelings he’d been hanging onto that took me by surprise.  I hadn’t realized that he’d been noticing that more and more of my time had been spent caring for my mom – he’s usually so busy with his own teenage life that I hadn’t quite ‘got’ that.  But as I moved past my own frustration with what I initially identified purely as ‘selfishness’ as he resisted getting his room cleaned up for grandma, I realized that we three, my son, my mom and I are all in a rather profound transitional time. 

And, it’s complicated. 

I feel the difference in the occasional hugs my teen gives me.   These aren’t the hugs of a small child anymore – they’re becoming bear hugs, and there’s occasionally a fierceness in the embrace that has me catch my breath.   We both are having flashes of nostalgia for the child in him that is becoming a young man, and in those fierce hugs, we both reach back in our cellular memory for what was, realizing it’s passing, transitioning into something that neither of us quite recognize yet. 

I feel the difference when I take my mother’s hand.  The other day as I led her down the dock to our boat for an afternoon cruise, and helped her up the ladder to the upper deck, guiding her foot to each rung, I had a flash of guiding my son in this way when he was a small child.   

In attending to these rapidly shifting needs of my son and my mother, I too am going through my own transition (and let’s not even begin to talk about this peri-menopausal stuff that’s going on!).  In my relationship with both my mother and my son I struggle with how much to guide them, how much to insist on them being independent, how much to give, when to say “ENOUGH!”. 

It’s a challenging, transitional time, but also a time that’s providing unexpected tender moments and deeper realizations about myself, my son and my mother. 

But for today, I’m grateful to be attending to my own needs by taking a much needed break from parenting my teen, caring for my mom and am allowing myself to be cared for my this loving husband of mine. 

IMG_1831

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                         Off for another day of cruising the Gulf Islands!  IMG_7536

Advertisements