I used to be a blogger. After launching Hello Ladies in 2009, I published fresh content an average of three times per week. I worked for myself so it was easy to find time for the site. Then in late 2010 I went to work for someone else and managing the site got more difficult. Still, I was committed to writing at least two times per week, and most weeks I was able to do more. Earlier this year some dynamics shifted at work and finding the time to blog got tough. I gave myself permission to blog only once per week if that was all I could do until I got into a new groove. And then last month my mom fell, and I didn’t blog for 27 days.
My mother is on the mend and her bones and cuts will heal. But she’s not going to get any younger and her life isn’t going to get simpler, and neither will mine. For the first time I am grasping what it means to be part of the “Sandwich Generation.” At my best, I feel helping my parents is a privilege; a gift to be able to help care for the people who cared for me. At my most self-centered, I wonder, “What about me? When do I get a break?” And at my worst, I become so hyper-aware of my shortcomings as a daughter, a person and a mother. I’m good at crisis, crappy at compassion, efficient went rested and rotten when tired.
I’ve often complained that no one prepares women for the challenges of managing motherhood and career. I’ve suggested colleges should make their curriculum more useful, perhaps offering courses like: Critical Reasoning for Workers of ChildBearing Age, A History of Women’s Career and Parenting Choices from the Industrial Revolution to Modern Times, MommyTracking: Tradition and Modernity. “It’s so hard,” I’ve lamented. Teach us finance and marketing sure, but also prepare us for pumping breast mik in an electrical closet, leaving a sick child to catch a plane, working on 2.67 hours sleep, and deciding between the meeting and the school play for the first time.
Right now, none of that seems very difficult. Pampers seem so easy when you’re edging closer to Poise. Plus, there are so many resources available on parenting. I just returned from the BlogHer conference in New York where I met so many bloggers who share their wisdom on parenting including The Laughing Stork, Mom a la Mode, Motherload, Mommy on the Spot, Real Mommy Chronicles and MomTrends.
I did run into one blogger who gave voice to my new reality: The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation, although her story is different than mine. She’s caring for an elderly mother and raising a pair of 8 year old twin boys, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, and the other of whom has some ADD, while I am concerned with balancing career, children and caring. It’s hard enough finding the flex time for field trips and math fairs, what happens when emergency room visits are thrown into the mix? How do I show up guns blazing on the job so that I can earn as much as possible (and needed, to provide for my family) with so many parts of my life tugging at me? And yes, when do I ever just lie on the couch and watch bad tv again? Because, man am I tired.
And tell me, in the vein of the Squashed Bologna, what kind of sandwich are you? Me, I’m a fried egg on Irish soda bread.