Home > Family Life, Life Change, Uncategorized > Too Young to be a Sandwich

Too Young to be a Sandwich

I’ll be 40 next year and I’m not looking at this next birthday as a milestone, at least not yet.  Forty is the New Thirty I’ve been told and it had damned sure better be.

The sandwich in question is the “Sandwich Generation,’ those who are raising children while also caring for aging parents.  My parents aren’t old–Mom’s 65 and Dad’s a year younger–but my mother does occasionally require assistance due to fibromyalgia and the aftermath of four hip replacement surgeries.  She recently had a bad fall at home and broke several bones and dislocated a hip.  Currently recovering at home, she needs someone with her full-time to help with laundry, food preparation, walking, exercising, etc.

After dropping the kids off at school, I spent most of today with her: making breakfast, washing dishes and clothes and just keeping her company.  Grad student that I am, I also wrote a short paper and outlined a presentation while she napped and I waited for the clothes to dry.  I’m glad we live nearby and I’m able to help.  Doing so makes an already tight schedule tighter but I’m looking for ways I can stay with her more often.  Usually my mother is the one providing assistance to a sick churchgoer or an overextended relative so I think she deserves a bit of attendance.

In a few weeks my mother will heal and return to the role of caregiver.  But the odds are that the days I’m spending with her now are a glimpse at our futures.

A friend of Mom’s arrived to relieve me so I left my parent’s’ house mid-afternoon.  After two quick errands, I was home to greet the school bus and fix my kids a snack before I was back out the door to class.  One of my errands was to the bookstore for a couple of books ( 1 and 2) on puberty.  My son is in 5th grade and soon his class will discuss sex education.   Determined not the have my children follow in my footsteps and learn the facts of life from purloined Penthouses and HBO, my wife and I will be having ‘the talk’ with my son this weekend.

There was no such chat from my parents.  My dad did once mention something about ‘not wasting all my time trying to get laid’ when I went away to college but even that looked like it killed him to say it.  Public school health class and church youth trips–on these my adolescent sexual education was founded.

My wife and I are pretty socially liberal and I’m known for not shying away from a topic.  A bit of online research yielded some excellent advice.  There can’t help but be some degree of awkwardness heading into this but we are determined to not stammer, become uncharacteristically formal or just generally get ‘weird’–kids hate that and it will become what they remember forever.  Everything changes once kids hear ‘the talk’, or in my case when some kindly 8th grader named Kelly introduced me to second base.  Hopefully, we’ll laugh our way through it.

And laughing beats crying, and Christ knows I could cry…ten years ago my son was just a newborn; ten years from now my mother may be an invalid.  Neither seems that far away.

I’ll update after the talk with a report on how it went.  Leave a comment and tell me about when you had the talk with your parents or with your children.  Hopefully, the dialogue was different than that provided by these two parents:

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  1. October 29, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Not a single word about sex ever passed between myself and either of my parents. I think that one night, after a high-volume argument between them, my father came into my room and begrudgingly asked if I had any questions about anything. I think I was 16. Of course by that time I had no questions, other than “How long will I have to wait for this to happen?”

  2. October 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    When I was 16 my mom told me that there were some books in the hall closet, full stop. Early and often is the new rule. The boy (6) recently overheard someone talking about young girls having babies and he wondered why they were getting married when they were still teenagers. “You don’t have to be married to have babies,” but of course you can’t end the conversation on that line.

  3. Becca
    November 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Hey … my mom has fibromyalgia, too … scares me to think I may be headed for it, too.

    My mom and dad never, EVER mentioned sex. I relied on realistic fiction books (thank you, Judy Blume), movies, and my friends whose parents had provided them with books (non-fiction, I mean). I once asked my mom why in the world she never brought up the subject with me. She said she just never quite knew when and how to do it … and by the time she got up her nerve, she thought I knew it all. I told her I STILL didn’t know it all and at the time she should have talked with me, I certainly didn’t have some of it right.

    I vowed to overcompensate with my own kids. So far, so good with Emma … I think she knows she can ask me anything and that I will answer her directly and honestly, but sensitively.

    I do thank our public schools for addressing this issue — it opens the door for good conversations at home if, like my own mom, you don’t know where to begin.

    • November 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm

      Sorry to hear about your mom. Kind of scary to see where we are headed. Hopefully knowing will help us avoid it.

      I think the girls of our generation got a better education on sex matters, understandably so given who actually has the babies. There’s no male equivalent to things like Judy Blume, at least not that I know about. You are doing the right thing by overcompensating and acting early–I wish we had not waited this long with Sam. The internet and mobile phones have changed everything.

      Thanks for the comments and please stay in touch. I’m new to blogging (this one is for a class) so I’m both clueless and amazed whenever someone actually reads it. Good looking family, by the way!

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