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.
Janine Huldie says
I am in the middle, as well more so with my dad though who had a heart attack and stroke a few years back then my mom still. So totally do want to read this new book as I think I could probably very much relate as you did, as well. So, thanks Chris for sharing here with me today.
I think you would totally appreciate the stories in this book Janine. You could have written one yourself, I’m sure! 🙂
Julie Jo Severson says
Oh Christine, I love how you did this, and it’s amazing to learn about your mother now, too. You are in the thick of this middle, that’s for sure. I get those calls from my 11-year-old constantly. “Mom, when are you coming home?” Even if I’m just gone for an hour–trust me, she gets plenty of Mom time! But, yes, it’s such a balancing act. When I feel like I’m losing my mind trying to do it all, I sneak away and sit in the big, ugly, but super squishy chair recliner in my bedroom and just be for a few minutes. (Or drink wine in the pantry). Your story is such a gift to the collection. You are one of the first people I thought of when we decided to collaborate on this book, and I’m grateful you answered the call so to speak:-) By the way, both my husband and my that daughter I just mentioned, the 11-year-old have asthma–it has affected our lives in HUGE ways. I’ve been trying to write an essay about it for a year in fact. I keep starting and stopping. When your child is struggling to breathe, there’s just nothing else that matters, you know? Love you! Thanks for all of your sharing on this book while simultaneously promoting your own beautiful book: Help and Hope While You’re Healing.
Julie, I am forever grateful you thought of me as you curated this collection. I’m also still surprised my essay was picked, because I’m SURE there were MANY other amazing pieces to choose from. It’s an honor to be chosen and to be in this project with you (and Christie!).
Wouldn’t it be just SO great if we lived close to each other? We could walk alongside one another through our daily life- to and fro and sit in our quiet chairs or hide in our pantries together! 🙂
(I want you to finish that piece so I can read it, Julie. I’m absolutely sure it would be amazing and of course it’s something I would appreciate greatly!)
Love you, Kitty. I think you do amazingly <3
I love you too Lizzi. So very much. And you KNOW I think you do amazingly too. <3
Kristi Campbell says
I’m not quite yet in the middle although so wanted to contribute to this amazing anthology! Both my husband’s and my family are far away… but oh wow, do I feel you. <3
I get it. My dad is far away, so I can’t see him regularly. But now with my mom right down the street- it changes everything! I wish you were in this one too, my friend. <3
Marie Kléber says
Thank you for sharing your story Chris – I know this time will come for me. I still have a couple of years to go. But at some stage we all have to deal with the Middle Years trying to find the right balance between all aspects of our life.
It isn’t easy. And every story shared can make a difference and help us on the way.
Thanks dear. Stay well and blessed.
Thanks so much for coming by to read about it, Marie! Yes.. eventually everyone lands in the middle. And it can be a very sweet spot if you balance it right. 🙂 I think this book will be a huge blessing to many who are there now, who will be there soon, and who have been there too.
Aww!!! So happy your mom is near you Christine! What a tremendous gift. However, yes, the push and pull and tug of the sandwich years! What an important book, the subject isn’t discussed enough..
I love your story, what a great mom and daughter you are, not to mention all the juggling you do in the world with being a friend to so many, and having your heart always available for someone in need. I have the image of Christ on the cross..stretched out in all directions, and as we rest in Him, our sandwich years make sense and come with such meaning. You will look back on these years with your mom and children with such gratefulness, and because of your faith and beautiful self, you’ll juggle eloquently.
I always love your beautiful comments, Kathy. You bless me so very much, my friend. THANK YOU!
I am approaching the middle… straddling the line perhaps. My mom is still very capable of doing much for herself. In fact, she’s the one that’s hardest to pin down and get a hold of because she’s always off doing some thing. On some adventure – ha! But my step dad is older than her and had quite a few health problems the last couple of years, so I am there for her when she needs help caring for him. Or just needs to relieve the stress of dealing with multiple doctors and appointments etc etc. Sunday dinner at my house is becoming a thing – which I love – because it gives us all a nice end to the week and easy start to a new one.
But I am glad that my mom and stepdad made the move to our little town now, while they still could, and so that we could be closer to them if needed.
That will be a HUGE help in years to come, Leslie. With my mom around the corner, I can get over there often to help her out. I was just there tonight unloading her groceries for her and helping her with some housework. 🙂