A Proud Member of the Sandwich Generation

Cherishing the time spent enjoying parents, children, and grandchildren. 

by Joan Stommen • More.com Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

So much of who we are is based on where we come from, but today I’m thinking more about the beginnings, the in-betweens and the here-and-now’s. As I move into the autumn of my life, I think the greatest contribution, the greatest achievement we do toward making our time here on Earth important and bettering the world a bit is our children. Give them life, allow them to grow, be themselves, carry on family traditions and traits and values. Then they give you grandchildren! I’ve been missing my Mom lately. It'll be three Mother’s Days. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to write — to reflect on this lovely life cycle I am in.

I remember when I turned 50 — right in the middle of life! And I was so lucky to have my still-youthful-fun-to-be-with parents on one side and my two awesome adult kids who still thought I was fun on the other! Most of the time they still do, and now I have grandkids who think it’s fun to hang out with me!

As the years passed, I became the caretaker in the middle, helping out with the folks; helping out with the grandbabies. I was never a sandwich person (turkey, plain, with nothing on it), but there I was — an active member of the Sandwich Generation, which is defined as a man and woman simultaneously caring for parents and children and being pulled in two directions. I never felt anything but joy. These years became the time in my life I cherish most!


One summer I spent three weeks with my granddaughters in California and another two weeks with mom in Michigan. Like a “filling” rich in taste and texture, I was full of love, patience, smiles, excitement, helpfulness, hard work and yard work! 
We shared sunshiny days, wish-upon-a-star nights, rainy mornings and rainbow afternoons. No beach for mom, but I got her outside at midnight to do the “star light, star bright” thing just like the girls and I did. The three of us splashed in rainy puddles and weeks later I coaxed mom to rediscover how refreshing cool raindrops can be; so what if her hair and shoes got wet! I shared tales of old family history with the girls and played the old game of “bread and butter” with them as mom always did with me.

Staying with the girls while their folks were away, I drove them to swimming and gymnastics and hula lessons. We played tag with the ocean waves, rode bikes, shopped, read volume six of Nancy Drew and planted seeds in the garden. My cuties taking turns sleeping in the middle with me was the BEST! The easy-going pace and companionship continued at mom’s house. I drove her to errands and to her volunteer job in the hospital gift shop. We pulled weeds, planted perennials, played card games and took slow walks around the block. I heard more family stories, read large-print books and magazines and watched Lifetime movies with her each night. Mom bringing me coffee in bed each morning was the BEST!


Way cool. Just being me. Doing the same things in both places! Sandwiches spoil if you don’t use them. So when I got back home, I babysat my new grandson, caught up on my reading and gardening and helped build a rock garden with stones from my parents’ backyard.
That summer I was an overflowing Dagwood sandwich savoring the strong and comforting threads of family connections.

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