17th September 2015
The Ali Sandwich…
So apparently I am in what is known as ‘the Sandwich Years’…. Or part of the ‘Sandwich Generation’. Am I the only one to have missed this phrase?!
The definition according to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, is ‘a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children’. Apparently the term has been around since 1981 and there is lots of advice on ‘how to handle it’ by giving X amount of time / money to Y, to have family meetings to discuss tasks to make sure everyone is cared for and praised appropriately as well as advice on ‘how to care for yourself’ by making sure you are mindful, meditative, eating well, sleeping and laughing… not forgetting to take spontaneous breaks.
I am not sure I recall anything about the 80’s being meditative or mindful – I was only young but all the films about that era were people chemically fueled, everyone out for themselves and jousting with their shoulder pads… Who needed sleep?
Sweeping generalisations aside…
I suppose I am in the middle of a sandwich.
Today my beautiful, elegant, loving Mum is being sectioned by the local authority and moved by ambulance to a Mental Hospital where she is likely to live for the remains of her days, being looked after by a team of medical doctors and nurses who ascertain her perfect cocktail of drugs to prevent her from smashing doors and faces as she battles with her brain riddled with Alzheimer’s.
My lovely, kind, stoical, brave Dad is now alone after over 40 years with the love of his life, with the last 10 or so as my Mum’s sole carer. He has a new lease of life, refinding old friends, going for lunches and dinners, overjoyed that he can now listen to the radio, watch TV, play with his grandchildren…
I worry about my ‘parent’ slice of bread (or is it a bun? Ciabatta? Seeded cobb?)…
Will my Mum be ok as she is escorted by doctors and nurses? Will she freak out at the police waiting and watching closely by to keep the peace. Will she panic and lash out or will she go quietly, shuffling and crying sadly as she did when we moved her in to her first home? How will she be feeling? Does she feel anything but scared, anxious? Or does she feel lonely, left, abandoned by us, her daughters and husband? Does she remember us? I hope not.
And my Dad… did he do his grieving already? Or is he bottling it all up and suppressing it… too scared to open up the emotional pandora’s box? Will it come out later? Will he ring me if he feels sad, lonely, scared, guilty? I do hope so.
This side occupies a lot of my mind lately…. But my reality and day to day life is about my other side of the sandwich… (is it the bottom half or the top?…..)
My babies… my biggest pride and joy, my most successful creation. My sons Tom and Willy who are 7 and 6…. Gorgeous, blond, energetic, funny, loving… one of them stubborn, strong willed and headstrong… the other so giving and generous. The days speed by in a flurry of school runs, feeding frenzies, homework, tantrums, football, lego and sweaty kisses…
Does this side include the dog, the cat, the household chores… oh and my handsome, absent husband? My wonderful weekend, husband who has taken the opportunity to further his career in London for the sake of our finances…So that we can have the best life for this one life we are given on earth and give the same for our sons.
Are they the lettuce, cucumber, tomato? Does that mean James is the meat?! I have to laugh at that – for those of you that know him – he is a 6’5’’ strapping Yorkshire man… very keen on sport, the gym and a big hunk of a piece of meat himself!
And so where am I? What am I? The cling film that holds it all together or the butter that ensure the bread doesn’t go soggy…? That is quite egotistical… the world wouldn’t fall apart without me… or am I the bit of gherkin or pickle that some people love and some people hate? Am I the insignificant filling that’s there but no one realizes? That makes me sound like a total martyr… so what am I?
That is the biggest bit I struggle with. Who am I?
My past has a fantastic resume of top grades and scholarships, good schools, university, fast track promotions through a top blue chip management consultancy and an exciting role in industry while the boys were babies. I can command a fantastic salary and day rate for the skills and experience I have ramped up, for the credentials on my CV. Most people want me to stick to it…
But that’s not my future.
So is this another sandwich? The slice of my past as a corporate professional and the slice of my future identity as a brilliant mum, home-maker, coach & mentor, owner of a health, wellness and wellbeing business.
What’s in the middle? The transition? Time for me?
As I unravel this question, I am challenging myself to document the transition… 365 days of a blog about me…. My transition from slice to slice… Call it a diary, journaling or even therapy… but it will be my time to work out who I am.
Who is Ali in the sandwich of this life?
And are there others out there struggling with the same juggling, thoughts, fears? Perhaps what I do will help them? Perhaps the content will invite a discussion, a topic of conversation… Perhaps it will just make a good read…
Day 1 complete.