Sandwich Generation

I love that Gen X is being referred to as the “Sandwich Generation”. It has many layers to its meaning, like a well made Hero sandwich.

Many of us survived childhood through early adulthood eating sandwiches. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, “Let me count the ways.” First up is good ole Peanut Butter and Jelly (if you were lucky) sandwich. It was our packed lunches and not just for field trips. I think that is why so many people get upset about the very real peanut allergy. Peanut butter was out staple. The schools even served peanut butter sandwiches on chili day. Hmmm….maybe we ate so much peanut butter that it altered our DNA and now our children are unable to process it….just a thought and not a political or medical statement.

Bologna and its tubular sibling the hot dog. As kids we couldn’t get enough of it. Kids would not want to stop playing in the summer to eat lunch so moms would hand us a piece of bologna or a cold hot dog and we would scamper off chomping on that overly processed piece of mystery meat. We loved it so much some of us had it fried instead of bacon. Ah…the smell of frying bologna. I even get giddy when I see it on a menu. I can’t believe the price usually assigned to it. I can see a whole generation of mother shaking their heads at that insanity.

Grilled cheese and its partner tomato soup. This here was some cool weather goodness. Ooey gooey American processed cheese food between two slices of good ole white bread because no kid asked for wheat in our day. Gluten? Never hear of it. If we were really lucky it was made with Velveeta….O…M…G. The ultimate grilled cheese experience as a kid. We love grilled cheese so much that there are no food trucks dedicated to them. Although they make some pretty fancy ones but are they ever delicious!!!

We loved and lived on sandwiches so much that the best invention came along for us latch key kids…..Hot Pockets! This was a game changer. We no longer had to survive on peanut butter and jelly. We were trusted to use a microwave. We could choose to have a pizza sandwich…WHAT?! We could have ham and cheese hot and melted….Get Outta Here. I am pretty sure those were the first options available in Hot Pockets; they were in my house at least.

But seriously, the biggest reason that we are being referred to as the sandwich generation is because we are having to balance raising our children while looking after our aging parents. In reality this has always been a part of society. I think it has more awareness right now because our parents are the baby boomers and there are A L O T of them. Gen X is also the generation who wanted to ‘escape’ the most and threw ourselves all over the map. Now our parents are getting to a point where they need us and we are not nearby. Many Gen Xers are struggling to heal some very old and deep wounds such as issues of abandonment. I talk with so many of my peers that feel like they were just left to their own devices and no one gave a crap. I guess the baby boomers weren’t called the ME generation for nothing.

I will share my current sandwich moment. My daughter is 22 and getting ready to graduate with her bachelor degree. To minimize her debt load, she has continued to live with us and commute to college. Now she is ready to look into moving out. My mother is 75 and needs to find a new place to live due to her landlord taking advantage of the ridiculously high real estate market right now and selling the home she rents out from under her. Being the worrier and over thinker that I am, is concerned with both of their safety, well being and financial security. My mom is like so many of our parents had to work their butts off without being able to save for their own retirement. Some would say to me, “not your problem” or “let them figure it out”. I just am not that person.

So, as the fixer and the sandwich filling, I am working on a solution that will ultimately help all of us as well as a very dear friend. I am going to help secure a place to live for them. Here is what I think is the real genius of this plan. The place I am helping them secure can then be used by me and my husband when the time comes that we no longer want all the yard work and stairs that we currently have. Many may think it crazy but I see it as an investment toward my own aged years.

What kind of sandwich am I? Am I the good ole’ peanut butter and jelly; reliable, always there, sweet with protein? Am I the bologna who is overly processed…not gonna lie…I feel like bologna on many days. Am I the ooey gooey grilled Velveeta cheese? Or did I finally turn into a Hot Pocket that will burn your mouth if you don’t let me cool down….yeah, I think that is me.

In the end, whatever sandwich I am on a given day is still a good sandwich.

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