The first person I ever heard refer to the “sandwich generation” was a former boss of mine when I was working in Detroit. I only worked with her for a year but to this day she remains the best boss I ever had, and I’ve worked for some pretty wonderful people. She was in her early thirties, relatively young to be a director of a communications department for a hospital and she hadn’t yet had her son. Over the course of that year her father struggled with a debilitating cancer and we – her staff – watched her as she showed up to high-level meetings directly from accompanying him to radiation treatment. She seemed to manage all of her responsibilities beautifully and when I brought that to her attention one day she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Yes, well, these are sandwich years, right? Caught between our kids – or wanting to have kids, and our parents!” She said it almost happily.
I’ve heard the term off and on since then, of course, but its accuracy never really struck me until I read Judith Shulevitz’s column in The New Republic “How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society.” In the article, Shulevitz explores many of the complexities surrounding the postponement of having a family:
“But the experience of being an older parent also has its emotional disadvantages. For one thing, as soon as we procrastinators manage to have kids, we also become members of the “sandwich generation.” That is, we’re caught between our toddlers tugging on one hand and our parents talking on the phone in the other, giving us the latest updates on their ailments.
Her point really spoke to me. I had our daughter, Grace, when I was thirty-three years old, and now that she is nearly two I hope to conceive our second child in the next year or so, but I’m thirty-five, the age where my fertility takes a disturbing nosedive. I’m not open to taking fertility drugs so the size of our family will be what it will be, but for this go around I forsee more temperature-taking and ovulation watching than I would necessarily prefer. At the same time, Ian and I are struggling with the fact that we live a day’s drive from both sets of our parents, all of whom are entering their late sixties and early seventies with various maladies, some of which you would expect and some of which you wouldn’t.
So, yes – we’ve passed our salad days and entered our sandwich days, and the phrase for me embraces more than just the generational issues I’m living through. In many ways I feel sandwiched between the young woman I was for years and years – an actress and writer, and the adult I’m becoming – a mother who works in public relations and thinks about subjects like brand recognition, taxable income and school districts. In many ways I am proud and comfortable with the adult I’ve become but there are also moments where I miss the artist.
I’ve been blogging for a long time – five years – at a different blog. I started it after completing my M.F.A. in creative nonfiction – I wrote about writing, reading and all manner of other subjects. I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen to that space but I know I felt the need for a new blog – a new space to work with. Too many co-workers, family members and friends read – and reacted – to my last blog, in a way that caused me (because of who I am – oversensitive, for one,overdramatic, for two) write from a less honest place. I began worrying about what *this* friend would think if I wrote about weaning Grace before she turned a year old, or what my aunt would think if I recreated conversations between her and my dad. It was no way to write.
I don’t expect my former readers to follow me here (but if you have, thank you and welcome) – nor do I intend to write solely about my child,my parents, my husband and my job – but I imagine a lot of my posts will focus on ideas that come up from being a part of today’s sandwich generation. Because of where I am now in life, posts on television shows are as likely as book reviews, responses to articles and pieces of news more likely than musings about the writing life. I’ve freed myself up a LOT by admitting, to myself and others, that I don’t like to cook often so it’s highly unlikely I’ll post about recipes – and it’s much more likely that I’ll write about Project Fiscal Responsibility, my new year’s resolution.
Regardless of the topic of my posts, I’ve decided on the following goal: I would like to write at least once weekly – twice would be great. Posts should run between 750 and 1200 words although more is okay too. At the end of the year we’ll see if I’ve succeeded or not. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll keep posting at my other blog or not – that remains to be seen. I hope I do.
There are a lot of so-called “mom” blogs out there – I am initimately familiar with many of them – a perk/curse of my job. They are as diverse as they are numerous – from the spiritual to the religious to the feel-good to too much truth telling. Some are sponsored and some are not – some are obviously designed for perfect search engine optimization, while others are not. I don’t think of this blog as a “mom” blog perse but motherhood will certainly be a central focus of my writing. Ultimately, I am writing this blog from the point in time I inhabit right now – that is, as a mom/wife/daughter/sister/in-law/PR person/former Michigander/current Pittsburgher/voracious-but-slow reader who loves college basketball, novels that take place in the South, fashion boards on pinterest and all kinds of bodies of water – rivers, creeks, lakes and oceans.
I look forward to getting to know you!