Thursday, May 3, 2012

Letter from a mother to a daughter

Not many posts shared on Facebook make me cry - but this one absolutely did.

Letter from a mother to a daughter: 

"My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through... 

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. 

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day... the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you... my darling daughter. "

So... tissues out yet?

I re-read it... and the tears started again.

I believe this moving piece typifies the challenges the sandwich generation faces: building a life for yourself, your children, your life... and knowing just how much you want to care for and love your parent. And it's particularly relevant to the bond you share with your mother.

The Sandwich Generation: definition

The Sandwich Generation.

Have a think for a minute about what that might mean.

No, it's not the generation too lazy to cook, and therefore resorting to eating sandwiches.

The term "sandwich generation" is a relatively new one.

As a direct result of the work of Carol Abaya, beginning in 2006, this term can be found in the Oxford English and Merriam Webster Dictionaries.

Carol also coined the words "club sandwich generation" and "open face sandwich generation." 

Here are her definitions:

Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.

Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s, sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren. OR those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents. (Term coined by Carol Abaya)

Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care. (Another term coined by Carol Abaya).

Here is an excerpt from her site:

"Carol was a pioneer in opening up discussion of the many challenges of elder/parent care and aging issues. 

As she cared for her parents, Carol talked with caregivers around the world and started writing about the issues of aging. One of her primary focuses has been on the many emotional elements of both the elder's aging and the sandwich generationers "new role on the stage of life." 

As more baby boomers become both sandwich generationers and seniors, the need to understand aging dynamics and family relationships increases dramatically.

As Carol says, it's not easy to become elderly or a parent to your parent(s). After all, our society "says" adults should be able to take care of themselves. But, as more live well into their 80s and 90s and families are dispersed across the country, everyone is going to be involved somehow, some way, in elder care. If not today, then tomorrow."

And so, here it is.

How am I qualified to write about this?

Well, it's the life I have been living since the day my twins were born.

Suddenly, I was mummy... and mum to my mum.

More on that in future posts.

Please, feel free to comment about your experiences. It's what makes our common experience that much easier (no, that's not the right word... it's never easy) to deal with.