I’m part of the sandwich generation, which is far less tasty than it sounds. Rather than indicating that we solely subsist on anything that fits within two slices of bread, hopefully gluten-free in my case, it means that as we aged into becoming caregivers of our children, our parents simultaneously aged into needing various stages of elder care, often requiring us to fill both roles at the same time and literally becoming sandwiched between two roles requiring us to care for others. If you’re like me, you may not even see it coming until you are firmly in the middle of it.
There’s something about hearing the words “date night,” that make my skin crawl. Nothing will make me say no to an outing faster. You’d think hubs would learn by now that it’s not the best approach, but hey, we’ve only been together 15 years. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with Hubs. It’s the amount of pressure and anxiety that mounts each time he looks at me with those hopeful eyes and the weight those words carry.
Sometimes I forget who I am. It sounds silly, but the older I get the easier it is to do. It’s not like being stricken with amnesia where everything goes away all at once. It’s more like a gradual ebbing of pieces of my self-awareness. When I finally realize it’s happened, I can generally pinpoint what part of me has faded. Then I start to wonder if it’s worth reviving.
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been one of those weeks where more often than I thought possible, I needed to pause for a moment, close my eyes and wish I was anywhere but where I am right now. It’s just been one crisis after another, none of them terribly real, but all of them incredibly stressful and migraine-inducing. Work, home, family – all of it one big cluster of insanity. As I sip my warm peppermint tea out of my favorite Chip mug, I realize part of the ritual is the mug itself and part is the memory and warm feelings it holds.
After we returned from our first family trip to Disney World, I understood why people love it so much they go back year after year. If you’re enjoying your trip as much as we did, you get this indescribable joy. We were positively giddy for days and everything was new, even though Hubs and I had been there so many times before. It wasn’t until I tried to scan my magic band at Trader Joe’s almost a week after returning home that I realized how much I embraced that magic. The return to regular life suddenly seemed so mundane. A few months later it was downright depressing. I really didn’t think it would hit me that hard, but I definitely had been hit with Disney Depression.
The moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew I would love our child no matter what. I would do anything to protect her and I would help her anyway I could. When my perfect baby girl was finally born and I held her in my arms, I was relieved that her birth was without incident. At her first check-up, she was pronounced “perfectly healthy” and I finally let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. We knew how lucky we were then and we still know it. Now we face something I wasn’t prepared for, navigating my own feelings about mental health, sensory issues and having a child who may have “special needs.”
As I sit nursing my annual end of year cold, I realize I haven’t taken any time to sort out what my resolutions might be. Do people still do that? Do we still use the end of one year and the beginning of another to plan our own betterment or has it become too trite? Are we too dismissive of the concept of betterment or are we too lazy to commit to that concept in the first place.
Thanksgiving in my family is a big, boisterous, event, filled with reunions, wisecracks and food. So. Much. Food. It’s a time when I can feel how loved I am and, more so now than ever, how lucky I am. As I grow older, or, as I’d like to think, more mature, I am increasingly more cognizant of the need to reflect on what I am truly thankful for. We’ve never been the type of family that goes around the table saying what we’re thankful for, but I feel the pull of announcing it. A verbal, or in this case, written declaration of the appreciation for what we have and who we love it a very reassuring practice. And so, it is in that spirit I offer my thanks now.
Did I forget how to be happy?
That’s similar to what my friend Norbert explored in his poignant essay on his discovery of his own depression for the The Good Men Project. I revisit that piece often. It’s become a benchmark of sorts for me: have I too become numb to what’s going on around me?
I think maybe I have. Continue reading
There’s a vast sea of pins out there featuring Mickey waffles, Mickey ice cream bars and even Mickey Pretzels as the highlight of anyone’s trip to Disney! There are t-shirts devoted to pledging love for churros, Dole Whips and all sorts of treats from Pandora, too. Yet there I was drowning in a great swell of despair. I’ve gotten used to disappointment from being unable to eat gluten, so this wouldn’t be any different for me, I guess. Then I started digging deeper…