Sandwiched

July 19, 2016



The sandwich generation managing it all

Ah, the joys of a lazy summer afternoon, you know, those days when you have nothing to do, nowhere to go and you just sit in the backyard listening to the rustle of the trees and the birds that fly by?

No?

Uh huh. Me neither.

Today, for the three hundredth and sixtieth some odd day in a row, I woke up with my head spinning. I was thinking about all the things I needed to accomplish, all the things I'm supposed to get done every day, plus all those things I didn't get to yesterday (or the day before that) and are now on today's list.

Fabulous.

There are errands to be run, a mother in a nursing home to visit, bills to be paid, meals to be cooked, laundry to be washed and dried, folded and put away, beds to be made, kids to be driven around, tended to, disciplined, loved, and listened to, client deadlines to meet, blog posts to be composed and publicized, comments to be made and answered. And so much more.

The list is long.

And I never get to it all.

Why?

I wonder about this a lot.

I see other people who manage to get it all done. They're at the beach, toes in the sand or at the salon getting a massage. They're on Facebook discussing their latest shopping adventure, tennis match or ladies who lunch date.

What's wrong with me?

I delegate. Buy take out, I call in carpool favors and tell the kids, "later", but why is it that there are never enough hours in my day?

Do I take on too much, prioritize poorly? Am I just a giant time waster?

In 24 hours I should have enough time to meditate, walk, swim and read. I should have a free evening to go out with my girlfriends a lot more often than I do. I should be open to entertain a few times a month. I should be able to do my nails and sing, knit, learn to crochet, and stare at the sunset with my husband.

And write.

I have a book in my head. Did you know that? It's basically written.

Just not on paper.

That would take time.

Time I can never seem to find.

Over the past few months I started beating myself up over my (apparently) very poor time management skills. It must be the reason that I cannot accomplish anything, I told myself. I was sure of it.

So I made a schedule and I started to follow it.

Day one. All is well...until the school nurse calls and tells me that my daughter is sick. Fever, come get her.

Ok. I go. I sign her out and then stop at the store to pick up ginger ale and saltines. Once home, I make a cup of broth, put it on a tray with the soda and crackers and a towel, so there are no crumbs, help her into pjs and tuck her into bed, when snack is done.

While she is resting, I peek at my now defunct schedule and realize that I need to cancel a voice lesson she has later in the evening. When the correspondence required to explain her absence and reschedule the lesson is complete, it's time to pick up kid number two from school.

The afternoon is a blur of snack, homework, cool washcloths and ginger ale refills.

Cold, with a bendy straw and no ice.

After dinner I think I may get a few minutes to cross some items off my list, since the schedule is shot, but I don't get much accomplished before I have to drive up to the nursing home to see my mom. It's after 8pm when I walk in the door and check on my sick baby, who wants me to lay down with her for awhile.

I crawl into bed sometime after 2am.

I would like to say that days like this are not the norm, but they are. After one gets well, the others in the house get sick. There's extra laundry, doctor visits, you get the gist. Even on days when everyone is well, there are unexpected award ceremonies or parent meetings. There are forgotten books and lunches, projects, college applications, financial aid deadlines, impromptu shopping trips, outings and responsibilities that come along with raising active and involved children, schedule or no.

Then the phone rings with calls from the nursing home. There are doctors and nurses with reports, lawyers dealing with sales and applications for her care. Siblings who need to discuss a myriad of situations. Her friends reach out and want to know how she is, where she is, can we visit and can you meet us up there?

The more I paid attention to my days, the more I realized, I am not a time waster. I am not a bad scheduler. I am not irresponsible with regard to the clock.

What I am is sandwiched.

I am stuck between two generations that require my attention, my care, my time..and frankly, there are just not enough hours in the day to tend to them all.

Something's gotta give.

And let's face it, it's me.

Is there a solution?

I don't think so. Not one that I would be happy about. I mean, what would I cut out? Or more accurately stated who would I cut out?

No. I am a mom and daughter, just like many, many other moms and daughters, who belong to this crazy generation of dual ~ or triple if you add the grands ~ caregiving. There are tons of us and it is not an easy road, despite all the magazine articles, stating that it could be if we just followed their advice and made ourselves a priority, delegated tasks and learned how to say no.

Ok. Sure.

So when the nursing home calls me at the nail salon, where "I am making myself a priority", and says that my mom is suddenly having a health issue and then the school calls and tells me that my daughter just got hit in face with a volleyball, and is bleeding profusely from her broken nose, and delegating the care of either one of these people is impossible, exactly who am I saying no to?

Can the magazine editor tell me that, because believe it or not this was a real situation and nothing I have ever read in any one of those articles was going to help me.

Or make these kinds of situations easier to manage.

As clich├ęd as it sounds I guess the answer is to go with the flow, just relax, make time for some fun stuff even if it's at the expense of an unmade bed.

I need to accept and understand that this is where I am in my life and short of moving far away from people I desperately love, I will do what I can, when I can, forget the schedules and stop trying to managing time.

Better people than me have tried and failed.

Of course, advice like that does not sell magazines.

But it's real.

And straight from the middle of the sandwich.



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66 comments:

  1. I have often wondered the same thing, Kim. It's all those unexpected things that come up all the time that keep us from being able to stick to a schedule. But I know we're both glad that we can be there for the ones who love us and need us even though it makes us a little crazy sometimes!

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    1. Absolutely, JoAnne, always most important! :)

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  2. Yes, I understand. I've taken to just telling myself that there's always tomorrow. My kids are in their 20s and the sandwich effect changes but it continues in different ways.

    Please write your book though. You have a gift and you need to do that.

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    1. Thank you, Stacey. Your comment just made my day. And it is on the list! Grr…that list!! ;)

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  3. I can totally relate to all of that Kim. The answer is keep on keepin' on, but you knew that already. Love your honesty & so true!

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    1. Thank you, Florence. Keep on keepin' on is so right. Those old sayings are old for a good reason! :)

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  4. Being in the sandwich is hard!
    A dear friend of mine is there as well. She works full time running her family trucking business so she's on call for them 24/7. She is a main caregiver for 3 family members, two of which have Alzheimer's, plus.........you know how it goes. :(

    When I was in that spot I did choose to cut me. I just could not have survived otherwise. I stopped doing girl time, only had my hair done when I couldn't take it anymore & dropped anything that wasn't a care-giving responsibility for my mom or my young son. It really was the only way I could cope.

    There were a lot of private tears & anger at having to choose but looking back now it was the only way I could have come out on this side with my sanity & with peace knowing I did the very best I could. You will too. This is a season that feels like an eternity until it's behind you. Make the best decisions you have with what you have at that moment then move on.

    The hardest thing for me to lose in those years was my garden. I just let it die & let the weeds take over. Part of my healing after my mom was gone & the empty nest came was going back to my garden. Each season has it's own joys & heartaches..it's on blessings & it's own sacrifices. And that really is ok.


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    1. Jenny, I am so glad that you stumbled across my blog. I am always thrilled when I see your name pop up in my inbox. I truly feel that I learn so much from your comments and I am definitely comforted by them. You’re a generous soul to share your experiences with us (me) and confirm what I guess I have always known…right now, it is what it is. It isn’t easy, but it’s what I need to do, for them and me.

      Thanks for weighing in and have a wonderful night.

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    2. Ah, what kind words. :)

      Pretty much everything we feel has been felt by someone before us....really, just acknowledging that in our hardest time eases the pain. How can we not share that when we meet someone who is going through the same pain? It's how we redeem those hard times from our past...by helping someone else through the same thing.... I am so very grateful for those who have done that for me!

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    3. As am I…and I count you among them. xo

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  5. Hi Kim,
    Sending a hug.
    As we have gotten to know each other these past years, I know how we both feel about being a mom. I think that in the long run, that time we spent snuggling with our kids when they asked for us is going to come back to us in such a great way.

    Sending a HUG for your mom too. xx oo
    Keep Calm and Carry On ...
    Carla

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    1. Thank you, Carla. I say absolutely yes to everything you said...and I have always liked that saying. We have to carry on...why not at least try to be calm. I have to work on the calm part! :) Thank you for your friendship. I am so glad our paths have crossed. xo

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  6. This sounds so rough, Kim and I know there aren't any easy answers! I think it's important to keep in mind that you absolutely have to take care of yourself. Make yourself a priority. Maybe in the evenings when your husband is home from work, you can take one evening a week to meet a girlfriend for dinner, take a yoga class, take a walk in nature, go to the library, go get your nails done - whatever it is that "fills your tank". If you don't make yourself a priority and take care of yourself, you can't take care of others. I watched my cousin take care of his mother for several years before she passed away, and we all thought he was going to die before his mother! He developed several health problems, depression and anxiety, and gained weight. Don't let that happen to you! {{hugs}}

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    1. Thank you, Melanie. I have been trying to carve out some me time. Writing is my passion and that is why I continue to blog. It is a wonderful outlet, both creatively, emotionally and socially!! :) I love your “fills the tank” comment. I am off to make a list of things that do…hugs back to you!

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  7. I think we have all been where you are Kim. It is hard most days with not enough hours to do it all. I have many days of thoughts of going into the witness protection program where no one can find me!!!! Then you realize someone needs you and you are there for them. Deep breaths and sneaking away to the creamery for a homemade ice cream help!!!!! Hugs my friend.
    Kris

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    1. Thank you, Kris...and you're right, ice cream does help!! We've been eating a lot of it!! :)

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  8. Oh Kim,I will wish for you a little me time, some time to catch your breath. My past few months have been busy too so I can commiserate with you. The thing that was first to go on my list--well, besides the dishes and the dusting--was blogging. I haven't written a post in two months and that has been disappointing for me. I hope that things settle down in your life. The busyness will evolve and change. I live alone, my kids are grown but it is now a different kind of busy. Just a thought, have you considered taping your book, perhaps as you drive back and forth to see your mom? And then have it transcribed as a rough draft that you can edit and fine tune?

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    1. Blogging has not been easy to hold onto Lorri, I agree…and when I do get some free time, especially in the summer, I would rather be outside than perched in front of a computer! However, writing is my salvation, so I do make time for it, but it adds another thing to that dreaded list, that’s for sure. I can imagine that with a farm and animals to care for, you must have quite a list yourself! And as usual, you have shared a fabulous idea with me…I should record. I do my best “writing” when I’m speaking anyway!!

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  9. Preach it, sistah! You do what you gotta do, and that's all you can do. Living in a sandwich, too! (((big hug)))

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    1. I had a friend email me last night to say that we should be calling it a hero sandwich by now! Agreed!! Big hug to you, too!

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  10. Been there and now raising my granddaughter and starting a new full time career. My sanity has been kept by gorlfriends. Whether it is going out for lunch or having coffee or tea together and lots of times it was a mug at home with the phone in hand. Other women get "it", and they will support you, encourage you and most of all just listen. I make a little me time everyday and right now it's getting up a half hour earlier and enjoying my mocha reading emails and enjoying my peace and quiet before the day and demands start. I am listening to the birds chirp rt now! I could so relate to having a book in yr head as I too have been packing one in my head for years! I finally wrote one chapter this winter and plan on getting to it this winter but for now I have other priorities. Prioritize is all you can do when there is so much. And when it gets really overwhelming I got good advice (from you guessed it-someone who had been there) make a simple list of things you know you will accomplish and only one or two that you would like to if you had time. Cross off those tasks you accomplish and you will feel better seeing what you have done instead of what you have not. Aka the glass half full. I never truly understood me time til the last few years and now see it can be as simple as getting up ahead of everyone or having a hot bath and good book. I read every night to escape all the chaos I would be dwelling on. I wd lay awake worrying, making lists, worrying, and not sleeping. I am weak in the except use dept. but am focussing on getting enough sleep right now as I realize in the past I did not. Carry on and vent when needed like this post! It is same as me venting to my girlfriends! And just knowing you are not alone and this too shall pass is a small comfort. Prioritize as much as you can, when kids grow up will they remember the floor was spotless or that you clbrd into bed w them when they were sick?

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    1. Thank you for the comment, Maureen. You are right, perspective from someone who is there/ has been there is invaluable. I think that I have finally resigned myself to the fact that this is it for now and one foot in front of the other is the best I can do! :)

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  11. it has been a long time since I had a child at home. and only ONE! but I do remember the hectic pace.
    and I was a longtime caregiver for two beloved people before they died. my mother first and then my husband.
    and I can tell you this.
    unless you DO find a way to make time for yourself. . .
    even if it's just 15 or 20 minutes a day in blessed personal solitude.
    it doesn't have to be manicures or personal shopping
    just simply ALONE and quiet time.
    unless you do that darling bean. . . it can lean to an exhaustion of the soul.
    and even physical illness eventually. if not depression.
    a young mother where I worked related something her little son said to her one day. . .
    "mom when can I ever just STAY HOME!"
    she had him enrolled in a musical instrument class plus all the various sports they play
    plus play dates . . . and all with the most necessary practices and taxiing.
    he was IN everything and wanted to simply just be a kid and play. and enjoy being in his home.
    sometimes choosing just ONE wonderful activity might be enough. just sayin'
    and I LOVE your bedroom bed making post! so absolutely beautiful!
    but... YOURS should be the only bed you make. I hope they're all making THEIR OWN BEDS! LOLOL!
    and wow. talk about writing a BOOK! this has turned into one. and i'm so sorry.
    but find the time to write YOUR book kim. you have a gift. it's as important as your family's activities darling bean. and the creativity of it will give you a burst of energy! XOXO♥

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    1. Thank you, Tammy, your book has been a lovely read! And hopefully someday I will get my own book! In the meantime, it's full steam ahead, gathering ideas and editorial content! ;)

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  12. I have been there and yes it is overwhelming! What I tried to console myself with was I was doing what was most important at that moment and let the rest go. Hard to do though! Thinking of you during this season of your life, but the seasons do change.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn, yes they do. We are embarking on a big change of season around here with my eldest entering college this fall...some seasons move too quickly!

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  13. Thank you for sharing your life with us. So many of us can relate. Had I know life would be so complicated, I would have journal'd every day so the book would be written. I was a long distance care giver while those that could wouldn't.
    I have a saying "You never know when the last time will be the last time" When that last time comes, you will be glad you were a devoted loving daughter. The Bible says to honor thy father and mother all their days.
    For all of those caregiving, remember sometimes the caregiver goes first because they didn't take care of themselves.
    Myrna

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    1. Wise words, Myrna...every single one of them. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  14. Bless your heart. I've been there in the generational sandwich. The husband and I have one sibling each and our siblings married and started families much later than we did. So we were raising teenagers while they were raising babies. Due to a sibling's divorce, I had my two young nieces for 18 months while I had my oldest graduating from high school and a mother in-law recovering from back surgery, a father recovering from open heart surgery and helping with my husband's grandmother who was in her mid eighties at the time.....plus a job. There were times that I sat in my bathtub at 2am with the water running and cried my eyes out because I was so tired and stretched so thin. There simply were not enough hours in my day to do all that needed doing and to tend to everyone and everything that needed tending to. I came very, very close to having a mental and physical breakdown. I'm still dealing with some health issues that stem from that time period. I don't know what the answer is for those of us who are stuck in the generational sandwich except to do those things that are absolutely necessary and let the rest go.

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    1. Kim I am so sorry to hear that you were also caught in the sandwich...and then some, wow. I know there are tons of us out there, but my mom had me late in life, all of my girlfriends' moms are much younger than my mom and seem to be in good health...and they have a partner. I am so sorry to hear that you dealt with this as well, but your story makes me feel like I am not so alone...and if you can do it, so can I. Thank you.

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  15. When you eat a sandwich you just take one bite at a time :) Sounds like you are doing that day in and day out to a wonderful degree. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to have pickles and maybe even ( gasp ) potato chips on the side as a little treat, though....that's your ME time when you can.

    Women tend to be perfectionists or at least feel guilty a lot ...as in, every minute of a day is full and yet at the end do you pat yourself on the back? NO rather look at the 3 things you didn't do...so typical of all of us at times.

    You are a VERY good mama and DAUGHTER to YOUR MAMA...( have a potato chip and pickle with that sandwich :)

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    1. Deb, you just made my day! :) Thank you my very kind friend.

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  16. Oh, Kim, I can sympathize with what you are going through now and comparing it to what I went through some years ago. There are just some things that you can't put off and when one of those come up the whole schedule is done for. I think you just have to forgive yourself at those times and do what you have to do and think to yourself that it will get better and don't beat yourself up. However, I found a way, this was also years ago, to keep to a schedule on the days that are not so hectic and I am planning on going back to it, even though I don't have the problems now that I had then. It was just very fulfilling and very easy to stick to and amazing how things got done. I am going to sit down one of these days and figure it all out again and then I will post it, hopefully it will help you and others in the same boat to have a little more order in your lives...Happy Wednesday..Judy

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    1. I do have to put a good schedule in place, Judy. No doubt. I need to stick to it as much as possible, too. I am working on it...and a little free time, too!! :)

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  17. Hi Kim, Yes, I can relate but in a different way now that my son is grown. Now that my hubby is retired from one career and one year into his new business career with me working for him too, the balance can be a challenge. You can only do so much and the best thing is to not let yourself fill overwhelmed which I know it easier said then done. When I think back, when my mom was in the nursing home, son in college, hubby working long hours and me in too brick and mortar shops, I don't know how I did it all. Maybe I didn't do it at all, just went with the days as things happened.

    I think you do an incredible job with it all and I think you really need to get busy with that book when you can. Just one more thing on your list right?!? But I know it will be a great one!!

    Have a great rest of the week. xo

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    1. You are the best cheerleader, Celestina Marie!! Thank you for your sweet words. I can feel your smile from here! :)

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  18. Being in that sandwich is truly difficult right now, but it "should" get easier as your children get older. I sometimes think it's rather like childbirth, you will forget how tough and painful it was and just remember the good things. You'll remember how glad you were that you could spend those precious moments with your mom. You'll realize you wouldn't have traded anything for that snuggle time with your child. You will realize how grateful you are to be the filling in that sandwich, surrounded by those who love you the most. Or, you might just have to wait for retirement for those massages and mani-pedis!

    It's a juggling act, but you've got this!
    Hugs, Carol

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    1. Thanks for the faith, Carol!! I don’t always feel like I’ve got it, but funny, my kids think I do! And last night one of them even gave me a pedi!! ;)

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  19. Kim, reading your post was like reading my life story. It has been like this for me for the last 34 years. Although your kids get older and we think our life will get a little easier and have some more "me time", that was not the case for me. My days are as crazy as they were back then and I still have a list of things that didn't get done at the end of each day. I hope you get to write that book. I will be the first one to read it! :) Take care dear friend.

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    1. Thank you, Maria, I really am trying to write that book!! Like you, I have been sandwiched for years. It's not easy, is it?

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  20. Kim,

    This is the truth! I am feeling it a bit as I watch my granddaughter, am still have three kids at home, and three married, and I have the care of my parents. They are still independent, but need help with things at their house. Sandwiched it the perfect way to describe it.

    You are choosing the better thing, serving others.

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    1. I am happy to be serving, definitely. I would not be able to have it any other way, but it is exhausting at times. I am trying to be more mindful of how I spend my free moments, though. I wish you some mindful free moments, too!! :)

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  21. It's not easy Kim and life can be hard at times! The one main thing is that you are there for your kids and mom! There is no way you can be on a schedule but just stay organized! Which I know you are. :)
    Now take that swim for me at least?
    Take care and you are the best!
    Hugs to you.
    Julie

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    1. A swim and some ice cream is always a great way to get a break…and if I do it with my kids, even better. Thanks Julie!! :)

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  22. Yes, yes, and yes, sista! I'm right there with you. We all got a stomach bug over the 4th of July and it totally messed up my schedules. I was in bed for a whole day and you wouldn't believe how far behind I got on the usual errands, cleaning, laundry, etc. I need more free time too. We all do. I just don't know where it'll come from. :)

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    1. If you figure it out Lisa, let me know!! And I am super happy to hear that you are all feeling better! :)

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  23. I feel for you through all the craziness but I do believe it will get better as, like you said, it is where you are in your life right NOW. Maybe the beds don't need to get made EVERYDAY! I am not trying to make light of it, just that letting the things go that can wait a little might help a little. Sending a hug your way ((( )))

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    1. Thanks AnnMarie!! I could use it!

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  24. I totally get it, Kim. It's tough and you always feel that you aren't doing enough. I just learned to take it day by day and tried to be easy on myself. It sounds like you are on the right path. Remember to take care of you too.

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    1. Thank you Kristi, the kind words mean a lot. Truly! :)

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  25. It is tough to be feeling in squeezed...when I first moved in the Charmer my Mom came to stay with me, and did live with me for 6 years. Being one of ten kids I constantly had calls from them about Mom, how I could do things better. How they would all do it but never did. It was a hard time for me....and felt very unsupported. Working full time, carrying 9 hours at college I was so overwhelmed. Don't be so hard on yourself... and do take time, because if you don't your health could suffer.

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    1. Thanks Cathy, I am trying to step back, because it is a lot. I appreciate the perspective from someone who has been there...I know it wasn't easy for you either...

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  26. It's all been said better than I could do, so I am just sending you a hug!! I've been in your sandwich before and it's complicated.
    I'm sending blessings to you with the hug,
    J

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    1. It is complicated, J...thanks for the hug and I'm glad you're not sandwiched at the moment!! :)

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  27. I often feel that way....although, now that the girls are older, I don't have the school pressure any longer. It's not easy, that's for sure! Wonderfully written, as always, my friend. Someday I truly hope that book makes it to paper!

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    1. Thank you so much. It's funny, I know your girls are older, too. Once a mom... ;)

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  28. Kim, my heart goes out to you. I had a similar situation with my in-laws when my girls were still toddlers. There is nothing else you can do but like you said, go with the flow. Hugs to you and eventually you will pass this stage.

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    1. Thank you Mary. I know that so many of us have been through it. I'm just making my way...

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  29. If there is one thing that is certain in life, it is change. Whatever each of us experiences at any given moment, won't last. It's just not possible. Someday your mom will be gone and your children will be grown. You will have more time for YOU and you will have a full heart and clear mind knowing that you did everything you could and more to care for them all when they needed you. And btw, being needed is truly one of the most rewarding aspets of life, even if it doesn't quite feel that way most days.

    Having time to do things we all like to do is wonderful, but it's not always realistic, and frankly can be overrated. One thing I feel compelled to pass on is it is ok to be busy, frazzled and yes, even stressed. SOMETIMES. If it's unrelenting, please step back. I'm a firm believer stress leads to illness, sometimes serious illness, and it won't do anyone any good if that, heaven forbid, happens to you.

    To every thing there is a season...the time will come for you to write that book, and boy, will I ever buy it! And I have the time to read it too! ;)

    xxx

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    1. Doreen, your words of wisdom really do hit home. I thank you for sharing them. I really do cherish every minute with my mom and the kids, it is good to be needed and I know that this is fleeting time. I also know that sometimes even too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I am glad I wrote my feeling out on “paper”. So many people have commented telling me to step back when necessary and I have received the message loud and clear. I am carving out time for me and it has been wonderful! Thanks for the advice my friend. :)

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  30. Kim my heart went out to you as I read this. I relate to part of what you are saying in a different way. I'm a single mom with a young child and it has been that way for a long time. I work seasonally with my child to support us, I live a physically demanding back to the land type lifestyle. Me time wasn't there for a long time and when it was I was too fatigued and had to rest. It has all been so worth it - no regrets - even putting me time aside for several years. The time away Kim is turning out for me know that I am receiving it a real blessing. Be true to your heart and what and where you feel to be. All strength come from God and He will sustain you each day. This has been my experience. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

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    1. Ronda, your lifestyle and the strength of body and spirit you display have always inspired me. I have been trying to find peace in my crazy days and in my responsibilities. There is a lot of good in my days and I don’t regret one moment spent with my kids or my mom. I really am not much a me time person…that actually is my me time. I just need the pace to slow down a bit. Your words are so welcome and I really am trying to manage it all, by stepping away from some of it. Thank you for the prayer and the comment. They really do both mean a lot. :)

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  31. I hear you girl! Elderly parents, my own children (3 still home) and grand children. A blog, a job, a small space in a shop, cleaning, laundry... I get it! Yikes!!

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    1. Yikes is right, Susan! I think blogging is the answer! ;-) Or at least a creative outlet!!

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  32. I can relate Kim . . .
    Most of my "sandwiched" times are from days in the past . . .
    Granted, I am much older . . . my life is different today . . .
    I only mention this to say . . . "sandwiched" won't be a forever . . .
    You mentioned the best solution . . . do what you can, where and when you can . . .
    And for me . . . give yourself as many moments possible to, "just be."
    Treat yourself to those swims in the pool . . . hold up a stop sign for yourself.
    Know what I mean . . .

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    1. Yes, I do know what you mean, Lynne, thank you. I have been really trying to take a few minutes each day to just everyone and it has made a world of difference already!

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