Last week, I posted about guilt and the Sandwich Generation. (The Sandwich Generation is full of people who have young children at home whom they are caring for and parents who are starting to have health issues due to aging.) I wrote about the huge amount of guilt I felt this summer when I had to choose between helping take care of my mom or spending time with my immediate family.
When I talk about “my guilt,” a lot of my friends and family look at me like I’m crazy. Of course, I know logically that a parent and child do not, nor should, spend every waking moment together. I’s not healthy for either. I also know that there is nothing wrong with my daughter and stepson spending time with grandparents, godmothers and especially their daddy, so that I can work, relax, or bond with my friends.
Ultimately, I don’t want to miss ANYTHING–I don’t want them (my daughter especially because she is so young and doing new stuff all the time) to do something I should have been there for. I don’t want to hear things second hand. I have decided this is for two reasons besides the normal parental reasons: one, it was incredibly hard to have my daughter. I battled infertility and didn’t get pregnant until I was 39. I had multiple problems through the pregnancy, and my water broke at 33 1/2 weeks. She spent a month in the NICU. These things change a person–have any of you had any of this occur? If so, you might feel the same way. Two, we are not having any more children–so, this is it.
This summer when my parents really needed me because of the problems with my mom’s knee surgery, I had to decide between a TRIP to Indianapolis with my family or staying home with my mom. My family–husband, stepson, and daughter–could go on the trip anyway. So, I wasn’t stopping them from going. But I was going to miss it. I felt guilty and awful and started rationalizing immediately that it was important that I go, too.
I asked myself these questions, which you may find useful if you are caught in a situation where you are actually having to choose between the two “families” you really love:
- 1. Is it important that I go on the trip in order for it to happen?
- 2. Who could take care of my children on the trip?
- 3. Who could help with my parents’ problem besides me?
- 4. Who would be able to take care of our dog? (Yes, pets, especially dogs, do factor in, too.)
- 5. Who needed me more in order for the weekend to go successfully?
When I answered those questions, I quickly realized that the trip could happen with or without me. Daddy would be in charge, and he could handle everything just fine. My parents have friends, but my mom was in need of a lot of help, and I know my dad–he wouldn’t have wanted to “bother” someone when my mom was in so much pain and need. Poor Chester would have maybe had to go to a kennel–for the first time in 4 years if I went on the trip. Who needed me more? My parents! (No, not Chester.)
I actually managed just fine, once I had made up my mind and worked through it with these questions. I shed no tears when my family pulled away, and neither did KB. And today, my mom is doing great, and we went on a couple other trips this summer. So this Sandwich Generation story ends with a happy ending–a nice piece of chocolate cake.
Have you ever had to make a tough decision like this? Did you have your children late because of infertility or other issues? Please share here if you’re comfortable!