I’ve been lucky to have avoided the issues plaguing some of my friends in this sandwich generation of ours. In the past year, two of my good friends have had their fathers pass away, and one of them is now managing her mother’s care, from housing and finances to dialysis and medical appointments. This friend also has a two year old.
But like I said, I’ve been lucky. My parents are in good health. My dad still is still a full time practicing physician (if a bit ornery about the conversion to electronic medical records), and my mom just this year gave up her job working at a preschool. After the difficult years caring for my brother while he slowly passed away, they are finally back on their feet with an active social life (way more active than mine), new hobbies (Mah Jongg for Mom, fly fishing for Dad), and some time to travel.
I suppose I should say they were back on their feet. My parents just got back from a three week vacation to France, cut a couple days short when my mom fell on some marble steps and broke her ankle in three places. After a visit to the ER in Versailles, a very long trip back to L.A., and surgery, my mom is now decidedly not on her feet for at least four to six weeks.
So I left my husband and kids behind to help. I was gone for five days, the longest time I’ve been away from the kids. I left right in the midst of trying to sell our house, looking for a temporary place to rent, aforementioned house sale falling through, my husband’s company on the verge of a big announcement (not necessarily the good kind), and all the regular stuff that goes along with having a two year old and a four year old with autism.
Although I was worried about my mom, and knew she would need a lot of help, I have to admit I jumped at the chance to get away for a few days. A few days away from the whining. A few days away from guessing what the kids might eat for dinner that night. A few days away from thinking about home prices and mortgage rates. A few days away from wondering if tonight we’re going to get a full night’s sleep. A few days away from dirty diapers and laundry and packing lunches and getting dressed and off to school and therapy and music class and playdates and just, well, all of it.
And I got that. Yes, I had to help my mom get around. But she could hold a conversation that didn’t involve Dora. And yes, I did some laundry, but for people who said thank you. And I made dinner every night, but it was for people who actually ate it and also shared a bottle of wine.
But you know what else? I missed my family. A lot. I ached to hear my daughter’s “Good Morning, Mommy!” I longed for my boy’s giggles. I missed having my husband next to me at night, even if our sleep isn’t always so sound. And I even missed our daily routine, the hurried pace of the morning that gives way to a lazy hour after Moe leaves for school, and I finally have my first sip of coffee while my daughter watches Dora in the other room.
My life is chaotic, but it is my chaos, and I've come to love it. Though I do admit: I did not miss the whining.