Merriam-Webster officially added the words sandwich generation to its dictionary in July 2006. Now Boomers have a sanctioned definition for their new role of caring for aging parents while supporting their own children. In an attempt to excel at both, we simultaneously attend caregiver support groups and grandparenting classes. We approach this new assignment with a mixture of enthusiasm and self-pity and act as though no other generation has ever encountered such a task.
I’m uncertain about the phrase “sandwich generation.” I picture someone stuck in the middle, holding things together with no way out. The inevitable outcome is being eaten alive. There may be times when it feels this way, but for me today, being in the middle of the generations is something quite remarkable.
My moment of enlightenment dawned on a sunny Seattle afternoon in the embryonic nursery of my soon-to-be-born granddaughter. My 85-year old mom sat in a rocking chair, quietly clipped tags from baby shower gifts and prepared them for the gentle-wash-cycle. My daughter did what all pregnant women do at this stage – put together mobiles, hung pictures and moved furniture when no one was looking. I dutifully folded onesies, hung dresses and cooed over the unbelievably cute pink ruffles and soft sleepers. Here were three generations of women preparing a nest for a newborn, each of us silently praying and quietly rejoicing.
I tasted the blessings of being in the “sandwich generation.” Psalm 78:5-7 whispered in my heart: ….We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done…So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
Being in the middle is a sacred place. I’m not sandwiched in-between obligations. I’m at the center of the whole mystifying spectrum of life.
–by Leona Bergstrom, Director, Re-Ignite