empty nest, family, grandchildren, parenting, retirement

The Sandwich Generation

You know that generation of people who are stuck in between their children and their parents – where they’re kind of on the hook (so to speak) for both sides?  You might be in that generation if you’re exhausted.

This is where I currently find myself – smack dab right in the middle.

For Labor Day weekend we went to visit the littles which is always, always, always THE BEST.  I love to visit them.  In one weekend we went to the zoo TWICE.  We actually have a pass for a zoo 6 hours away.

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The littles’ parents are fairly financial independent but are still “students”.  He’s a medical resident and she’s a stay-at-home mom to three perfect littles.  So we “treat” them once in a while.  We bought steaks for dinner – which was a treat.  We’ve helped them with small projects around their house.  We do what we can.

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I painted all of the cupboard doors for another one of my children with the help of these two.

We have four other children who are in varying stages of needing “help”.  Some are students and others are independent.  Still, as long as they’re with mom and dad, there is a sense that mom and dad are “buying”.

I treat them to new clothes or other items on occasion as I see needs or respond to “hints”.  I mean when the kid shows up with holes in his shoes and says he can’t afford new shoes, what’s a mom to do (insert eye roll here).  If you’re wondering if dad is less of a sucker, he is definitely not.  He’s worse than me.

Then there’s the other side of the sandwich.  Our parents.  As we were driving back from our trip to see the littles, we got a phone call from my dad:

Me: “hey dad”

Dad (who lives 18 hours away): “where are you guys?”

Me: “we’re about 3 hours from home – driving back from seeing the littles”

Dad:  “Oh.  Well I’m at your house.”

Me:  (nothing. shocked silence)

I knew he was coming to visit.  He visits regularly.  But I specifically said that this week was NOT a good week because I would be busy getting #5 ready for college and, if you recall, we are living temporarily in a 2 bedroom 1 bath tiny condo.  Did I mention dad also has a dog?

GAH!

I did what every good daughter would do and told him that he would need to get a hotel.  Of course he didn’t like the cheaper one I picked out, booked, and paid for from 3 hours away, while driving.  He find a “better” one for twice the price!

We put him up in the hotel for FOUR days until I could get my crap together at home.  Then he transitioned to a mattress on our dining room floor.  No Daughter-Of-The Year award will be received this year.  Well wait – maybe.  My dad likes to eat out. He thinks Minnesota has The Best Restaurants.  Also I’m busy.  So we ate out a lot including ice cream every night.  Guess who paid?  Every. Single. Time.  (it was NOT dad)

I spent the week entertaining (and feeding) my dad while simultaneously helping an 18 year-old shop and pack for college.  Let’s be clear on the “helping” – I did it all.  Also I do indeed work full-time.  I mean someone has to pay for all of this.

And now I’m sick.  I mean physically. I have a headache, my nose is running, and my throat hurts, and I’m about to board a flight to “help” my college kid get settled in at his new digs.

If I was a sandwich, I’d be a grilled cheese.  The kind that’s flat and oozes cheese out the sides.  stretchy-vegan-rainbow-grilled-cheese-637x320-1491866355

Maybe I’m just an enabler but I’m wondering … how are YOU managing being in that sandwich?

empty nest, family, parenting, retirement

Seriously. Who Sped Up Time?

Since we’ve been married, we’ve lived about a decade in three cities.  My husband’s job has not taken us to exotic locations but across one country and into another.

The first decade – the baby decade – was spent in Edmonton, Canada.  Four of our boys were born there all at the same hospital.  I learned to be a mom there – from some amazing women.  It was home to West Edmonton Mall.  What’s not to like?  new-google-image-edmonton

The second decade – the young children decade was spent in London, Canada.  Yes indeed. There is a city in Canada called London.  I took my mothering job seriously and was so good at it.  I was the ultimate soccer mom.  Our youngest was born there – at home with a midwife.  Global_Twitter_Template_LondonOntario

The third decade – the teenage children decade – was spent in a small suburb of St. Paul Minnesota.  That is as exotic as we got.  I took everything I’d learned from Edmonton and London and tried to apply it to “St. Paul mom of teenagers” life.  It was hard.  It was busy. Still, I didn’t hate it.  My teenagers were busy and energetic and crazy.  I was crazy.  minnesota

I used that decade to not only take care of them but take care of me.  I went back to school.  Finished up my degree I’d put off for years.  Went from stay-at-home mom to working mom.  It was hard.

Slowly the kids started to graduate and move on to college.  Then weddings,  Then graduate school.  Some are still in college in some form.  I’m a navy mom now too. You already know I’m a grandma.

Our youngest graduated from high school a few weeks ago.  No fanfare.  No celebration. He graduated a semester early.  I’m going to be honest, he’s the least scholarly of our children (sorry honey – it’s no secret).  Still his brothers are baffled as to how he (of all of them) graduated early.   Apparently, it can be done.  When you really don’t like school – you can make it happen. You find ways.

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Yet another picture of the “young prince”.  #sorrynotsorry I paid a lot of money for this photo shoot and he’s not even having a graduation party or anything where I can show them off. 

That baby is leaving in a few weeks to go away to work in Wyoming.  He’s going to college out of state in the fall.  He’s hoping he’ll be able to stand school again by then.

So here we are.  All of sudden the nest is empty.  What in the world?  10 seconds ago it was chaos with five children.

I’m kind of excited about it.  I know, I should be crying in a puddle of tears.  I’m not.  I’ve worked hard for this empty nest.  Am I a bad mom because I’m not sad they’re all grown and gone?  I miss them.  Oh, how I miss them.  But I’ve done a good job.  We’ve done a good job.  What’s there to be sad about?

I’m looking forward to the next decade.  We’ve got some exciting plans in the works.  I’ll blog about that.

Tell me about your empty nest.  How’s it going?  What do I need to know?