Thursday, 14 November 2013

Sandwich Generation - needs a better name for the work they do

Hilary Clinton said back in 2007 it takes a village to raise a child.

Apparently in Ireland, and I'm sure other places too, it's taking the newly named Sandwich Generation to do more than that. Once the child's raised, apparently it still needs help.

Trinity College Dublin survey basically says that women between the ages of  50 and 69 are looking after three generations, providing 'important contributions' to the extended family.

They are shopping, cooking, cleaning, looking after, taking out, being responsible for medical care/appointments etc of their aging parents, while looking after grandchildren as their kids can't afford childcare, or can't find childcare or don't want the kids to be latch key kids. In some cases, they are offering financial support too.


Is the Sandwich Generation new tho? It's a bad name for marketers to target, but are they new to society? Haven't they always been there?

I recall after my divorce 'going home' was the only place I wanted to be. I'd moved out a good 6 years before, but when it all came crashing down, HOME was where I wanted to be and it was where I went.

Once the dust settled, I moved out on my own, needing space to think and regroup ..... it wasn't long before another set of circumstances led me HOME to mum for a few more months. This time it wasn't as easy. Once a woman has had her own home, and done things her way, living with another woman is difficult, at least for me it was.

In total, I left and went home several times over the years, each time Mum always welcomed me back with open arms and a lot of advice even tho I'm convinced she would rather I didn't but she never said no.

The article caused me to think about the situation we were in all those years ago.  She had her aging mother across the road and was cooking meals for her that could be frozen and re-heated, she ensured grandma made it to her medical appointments, had food in the house, and was OK after her days out at bingo and bowls. She had me living with her and I'm sure she was more worried about me than she ever let on. We shared meals, or I was out with friends (living at home wasn't going to curb my social life); I contributed to the utilities while I lived there.

Did I ever think of mum as a sandwich? No way.

I just thought that's what mums did.

Mum's retirement coincided with the birth of my niece. She happily offered to look after her when SIL needed help, and when she went back to work part time. Again, that's what mums, even MIL's do, isnt' it?

So many of my friends could not have started their families if if wasn't for the financial or moral support of their parents ...... when grandkids came along, they were there to cuddle, and help out. Friends bought their first homes with the financial assistence of their parents (it was the only way they could afford to stay close by as prices have always been over the top in the eastern suburbs of Sydney).

Again, isn't that what parents do if they can afford to. No point taking it with them, eh?

Alternatively my in-laws made it quite clear when we said we were having a baby that that was our decision, they'd raised G and his sister, and they were too young to be 'held down' by a grandchild. Mind you, we didn't ask them to be 'held down. We didn't ask them for anything. We simply said 'we're pregnant'. They have softened over the years and we all get along very well and they have a great relationship with MissM, but truth be known, my mum has done more for us, to help us with things like babysitting be it on a Saturday night or a mid week lunch date for me with a friend than they ever did.

I'm not sure parents DON'T expect to help their aging parents, or their kids and grandkids in any way they can.

When you read the article, which I hope you do, you'll realise the type of help has changed, at least here in Ireland.

Maybe it's changing the world over. Who knows.

All I know is that when the time is appropriate to call home this evening I'm going to phone mum and say thank you for being my sandwich.

I could never have done the things I've done, or survived some of the crap I've endured if it wasn't for her support, or should I say 'top'n'bottom sandwich' of me.

Don't we all help each other when we are called upon?

If we can we do, if we can't .... then we try other options to help.

This Sandwich Generation needs some more thinking about.

With friendship

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