I walked up the pathway stones leading to the back door to my mom’s apartment. I smiled with peaceful assurance, while placing my feet on these secure stones my kids and I dug into the ground last week to help my mom have a sturdy walkway toward her patio door entrance. Now she could safely go to and fro with easy access to her car parked in the lot nearby. My mom recently moved to Ohio from Wisconsin, so she could be near my sister and I in her older years. This summer was spent unpacking all her things and helping her adjust to this new place and community she could now call home. Not knowing anyone else in our town, she slowly acclimated to finding stores, doctors, and new friends and activities to solidify a comfortable life. We took rides around town as I drew maps of how she could get to this place and that. There was excitement with every picture hung and each new experience she celebrated near her daughters and the families close by, without the looming distance weighing heavily on all our hearts.
My mom is getting on in her years, and although she struggles with neuropathy in her legs causing pain and restrictions to her daily life- she still manages to get up and tackle each new day with gratitude and grace. It’s been a blessing to have her right around the corner, now threaded within the fabric of our daily lives.
I tapped on the door and peered in the window to see her sitting in her chair, awaiting my arrival. She needed my help changing her bed sheets and digging out her Christmas tree, buried somewhere in her apartment or garage. Still not sure where some things were unpacked and placed in the move, we often go on searches to find various missing items.
I planned on coming by to help her on this night, expecting to have my son with me for extra hands to help, but instead I left him home with my girl who was supposed to be at swim practice- yet with her asthma escalated, she was home resting. Hubs was at a class, and I didn’t want my girl home alone. She gets scared, and having both kids together is a comfort to them when parents aren’t around. It’s a comfort to me as well.
Walking through my mom’s apartment, I am struck by all the beautiful decor every time I come. She has created a home that exudes comfort and class. I noticed her new Keurig on the kitchen counter, fresh from the box, still taped up with the directions nearby. She had told me about her purchase, and I immediately took to the task of pulling off the tape and reading how to set it up. We worked together to figure out the water filter, the various compartments and their attachments, and squealed with delight when it gurgled and spit out its first cup.
Now the search was on for the hidden Christmas tree that she has had for years…
Digging through her main closet- we found additional little trees she had been looking for, so we pulled them out of the box and admired their cuteness. But no sign of the big tree yet. She suggested under her bed. Crawling down on the floor and inching my way under, I pulled out tubs and bags, shifting and inching deeper in, but no tree was found. It must be in the garage…
I took her car keys and drove to her garage, parking the car so the headlights would illuminate the dark space where boxes and empty crates stacked beside wardrobes and my late stepdad’s golf clubs. There was no Christmas tree.
After coming in to tell my mom the bad news, my phone rang. It was my girl.
“Mom, when are you coming home? I’m hungry for dinner and Dad said I can’t cook when we are home alone. I’m really hungry mom!”
I knew this call would be coming. I knew I only had so much time to be away from my kids to help my mom. I’ve been here before. There is a familiar ongoing tension within my roles as mom and as daughter- always tugging on either end. It’s rarely a tug of war, but often a tightening of the rope that I navigate with great intention and careful contemplation. Who needs me more?
I’m thankful my mom always understands the tug, and graciously and gratefully affirms my new role and the challenges that come with it.
“I’ll be home soon honey. I just need to help Grammy Sue change her bed sheets, and I’ll be on my way.”
My name is Christine Carter, and I am living in the Middle. I am officially in the Sandwich Generation.
Are you in the Middle? If so, we are the Sandwich Generation, living a life of raising our kids and caring for our aging parents. You are I are one of millions, and I am honored to share with you an incredible anthology of essays that speak to this profound place- one of gratitude, reflection, tension, and intention. This book was created by two of my favorite writers who were inspired to compile a collection of voices, sharing views of 32 perspectives into this tough territory- filled with powerful and brilliant stories. I am honored to be a part of this book and contribute my own voice into this extraordinary season of my life. My essay is not about my mother, but rather it’s a soul searching reflection surrounding something my father said to me and what it truly means.
Today this amazing book is now on AMAZON! It’s a perfect gift for those you know who are currently residing in this season of life or those who are facing this new season ahead. It’s also a wonderful keepsake for those who love to read compelling stories of love, loss, and life, that everyone understands.
HERE IN THE MIDDLE – Available on Amazon!
Giving Voice to the Complexity of the Middle Years
The middle years of life are often the years when we are pulled in multiple directions, with the needs of our marriage, children, aging parents, friendships, and career all taking a toll on our time and energy. But it can also be a time filled with deeper connections and settling into our own skin.
Curated and edited by Christine Organ and Julie Jo Severson, Here In The Middle is a collection of stories that gives voice to the complexity of the middle place, sandwiched between love and loss, with thirty-two writers sharing a piece of their heart and soul so that readers can find solace, hope, and camaraderie.