Have you come up for air from being a “soccer mom?’” Before you can catch your breath, you might be saddled with a new label, you’re now a member of the “sandwich generation.”
According to the Pew Research Center, one out of every eight Americans, ages 40 to 60, is sandwiched between two generations, responsible for both raising children and caring for aging parents.
My literal and metaphorical sandwich consists of a single end slice of moldy bread, Carl Budding mystery meat and lots of mayonnaise. Thankfully, there’s hot lunch in the Wilmette schools. But the best part of my sandwich is that it’s “open face”: My parents are still OK.
My virile dad kept on reproducing, so my boys have an eighth grade uncle and a sophomore aunt in the same school district. And my mom’s in perfect health. In fact, she’s so healthy that she was able to walk home from the Art Institute this summer after I refused to give her a ride. I was tired of listening to her berate my haphazard parenting style and ill-mannered children, OK? In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have let my boys bring a football to the museum.
From Evanston to Deerfield, I talked to women who have the luxury to keep piling on the fixings, even melt some cheese on their sandwiches, because the bulk of their familial responsibility still lies with the bottom half of the sandwich, their own progeny.
Here are their 10 best answers to the question, “How do you know your parents are still OK?”
1. “My dad’s crazy tech-savvy. Not only did he Facebook friend me first, he taught my son how to Skype!”
2. “My mom still gets Brazilian bikini waxes.”
3. “The intricately crafted wooden-tree house in our backyard, complete with a zip line and a rope swing, all hand-built by my 77-year-old father.”
4. “My parents don’t have time to baby sit because they are too busy with their own lives.”
5. “We went to Europe for 17 days and left my parents with the kids. We came home to a clean house, laundry folded, and a full fridge.” (Okay, I know this is beyond annoying. But it’s true.)
6. “They still remember everything I did wrong, and they don’t let me forget it. Every bad grade I got in school, every loser I dated and the time I cut my own hair.”
7. “My dad finished the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.”
8. “I ran into my mom at the Pleasure Chest.”
9. “They rode their bikes with my daughters for 5 hours on the Green Bay Trail and they weren’t even tired.”
10. “My mom has less wrinkles than I do and looks better in her skinny jeans. Heck, she’s the one who told me skinny jeans are in style this year.”