Not My Favorite Sandwich

Updated on December 21, 2023

I’m from NJ. We like our sandwiches/subs/hoagies of any kind pretty much, but I’ve finally met a sandwich I don’t like; that’s being part of the sandwich generation. 

Before experiencing it firsthand, I had heard about the challenges of being sandwiched in the middle of raising kids under the age of eighteen while assisting aging parents’ growing needs. But, nothing, NOTHING, can prepare you until it happens. 

There’s a constant tense feeling of being in the middle and never doing enough for either my parents or my kids. My kids don’t drive yet so their evening and weekend activities require help from me and my husband. Taxi driving aside, that’s the easy part, but teenagers require a lot of attention. They say little kids have little problems, big kids have big problems, which makes sense to me now, as my kids are both in their teens. Not just the school workload and thoughts about college looming soon, but they naturally push their independence, wanting to attend parties, making friends I’ve never met, and challenging curfew times. Not to mention, the age of hormonal imbalances and the stress, frustration and agitation that comes along with it. 

At the same time, I have a mother with dementia and a dad who is her primary caregiver. At dinner time I am often figuring out what’s for dinner: something my kids, husband and I will all eat, with different preferences. It also means calling my dad to make sure he ate something in the last 24 hours. He often feeds my mom but not himself. My husband or I are in the habit of making double meals to share some with my dad, as he often makes eggs or something else easier for my mom to swallow. 

My weekend planning usually involves interstate travel for sports tournaments while worrying if one of my siblings will be able to visit my parents since my usual Sunday visit can’t happen this weekend. 

A good night’s sleep is a thing of the past. I chase sleep with little success, as I’m forever teetering in and out of consciousness, wondering if the phone did actually ring or was I in a dream-like state. I’m half expecting a text from my dad with an urgent need or my son needing a late night ride home from his friend’s house.

My amazon cart is always filled simultaneously with adult diapers for my mom and miscellaneous items the kids need like sports and school supplies or basic clothing essentials for my 14-year old daughter who continues to grow by the minute. 

After my workday, dinner, homework review, and carpools, I do phone call therapy for my dad. Sometimes that call leads into a series of follow up texts or voicemails to resources I contact to try and help him, or other times, I hop in the car and take a quick trip to see him since he’s having an unusually hard time and I can hear it on the other end of the line. The time I’m there is physically and mentally exhausting and when I return back home I sit in the driveway, take a few deep breaths, and try to reset before entering my own home again.

This sandwich is not tasty, not fulfilling, not fun at all. I completely now empathize with everyone I’ve ever known to have mentioned being part of this generation. I do try to focus on my parents whenever I can, knowing their days are fleeting, but at the same time so are my childrens’ young adulthood when they need me most. Luckily my husband is the most engaged dad and we are equals in parenting, so he carries the load when I’m helping my parents.

In the last two years I’ve read several stories of women like me who left their jobs to care for their aging parents. They felt sandwiched so badly that juggling both was not an option. For me, work is a distraction, I love my job and the hours I’m focused during the week on it and my team, I’m purposefully not thinking about the evening and weekend craziness. 

One day, I won’t be part of this generation anymore, and when that day comes I will miss my parents terribly. While this time is the busiest and most mentally draining I have ever felt, I’m thankful my parents are both still with me.

So for everyone feeling the squeeze, I won’t even say remember to take time for yourself, because I know firsthand how impossible that is most days. What I will say is, you are not alone. Just try your best. You can’t do everything at the same time. Try to be present for whoever it is that you are with at the time. 

And, maybe, every now and then eat a really tasty sandwich, preferably a big Italian sub from NJ!

Jennifer LoBianco
Jennifer LoBianco
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Jennifer LoBianco is CMO of Best Life Brands and part of the sandwich generation.