Sandwich Generation?

This week, my mother had surgery.  The surgery itself went well, but the hospital stay has been difficult all around.  I also had a deadline over this weekend and had to work at the office quite a bit.

The most disappointing thing from my standpoint is that I saw Punkie very little this weekend.  On Saturday and Sunday both, I woke up early, went to work, went to the hospital, and ran home to nurse Punkie and put him immediately to bed.  My long-suffering husband had 99% of the responsibility this weekend for caring for the kid.  And he did a wonderful job, but I felt sad, disappointed, and guilty for not spending time with Punkie this weekend – weekends are our quality time.

But the hospital stay has been difficult.  Considering that I didn’t have Punkie until I was 40, his grandparents are older.  The stress of watching out for my mother at the hospital is wearing on my father.  I can see that he’s at his limit for stress and worry, and he’s hard on the hospital staff.  My mother is in pain – she’s not at her best and she’s also been difficult for the hospital staff.  During my visits to the hospital, I saw my sister for the first time since very shortly after Punkie was born and seeing her rekindled a lot of emotions I have around our relationship and the fact that she has shown zero interest in her only nephew, my son.

This experience has me wondering how things will evolve as my parents continue to age.  They’re not easy to help or care for to begin with, and last year they made the decision to move farther away from me and my husband (knowing that we were trying very hard to have Punkie).*

*They’ve said they want to be more involved with Punkie and watch him all day instead of sending him to daycare and, as a result, I’ve put a lot of thought into what it means to commute to their house each day.  Setting aside the fact that they won’t be able to keep up with him physically, I know I just can’t keep the schedule that would be needed to make that happen.  I would have to wake up early, care for Punkie, leave the house by 7:00, drive 40 minutes to their house, leave Punkie, drive 50 minutes to work, work a full day, leave work at 5:30-6, drive 50 minutes to their house, drive 40 minutes home.  The earliest I’d be home at night is 7:20 – I’d never have time to spend with Punkie and I would be even more exhausted.  If I had a deadline or a long day at work, I wouldn’t get home until even later.

If they needed care, we would have to care for them ourselves – I don’t think they can afford a nurse or caretaker (I know I cannot).  And that means I would have almost zero time with Punkie during the week.  If I were to go there after work, I’d leave work at 5:30 (if it’s a slow day, but I often have to leave work later), drive to their house and arrive at 6ish, and then I’d have to leave at 6:30 to be home in time to nurse Punkie.  I know they’ll expect me to keep this schedule at some point in the foreseeable future — this makes me feel (1) angry that they chose to move farther away from me, knowing they were aging and that they would have a grandchild soon, and (2) worried that I won’t be able to physically keep this schedule over time.

I would have to move them closer to me.  And that is a nightmare.  They wouldn’t do it willingly and they named my sister in their power of attorney, so I have no actual control or influence over them.  All I have is a pocket full of their expectations.

The alternative is that I disappoint them.  When push comes to shove, I wonder if I would choose Punkie over my parents.  And I wonder if I can do it all . . . I’m already exhausted.



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