I have heard people describe parts of life as seasons or chapters or numerous other analogies. What I had yet to hear or understand was that some parts of life don't qualify as neat-and-tidy segments on a calendar or a page: they are, rather, in-between.
Much has been written about the sandwich generation: those who care for aging parents while raising children. While I knew those people existed, I absorbed little of the information because I felt confident it would never describe me. After all - my parents had always been healthy and of my four grandparents, the three who have passed away were taken by a heart attack, cancer, and naturally while sleeping. None of them required extensive physical care or experienced significant mental decline. No, this "sandwich generation" was not to be my lot in life.
I went about my business, then, building a life for my kids. I put my career on hold to be at home with them in their early years. We joked as they got older about the need for them to take care of us one day. Still they, like us, were experiencing healthy parents and grandparents; there was no real cause for concern.
Suddenly, when my dad was in his 50's, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His physical health took a sharp turn for the worse, but his faith and mental clarity remained strong. My sister and I began to understand that we may, indeed, need to "take care of" our parents one day.
The years have passed quickly, and much has changed. My husband and I moved our family across the country. My sister moved closer to home. My dad continued on such a slow fade, I didn't fully realize what was happening.
Meanwhile, my kids continued to grow. They graduated from high school and moved out to attend college, start work, and establish long-term relationships. It seems I barely blinked and woke one day to hear the news: I was going to be a grandma!
It takes some weeks, or even months, to thoroughly absorb this kind of news. And then you start to panic about all the furniture and the clothes and the diapers and .. and ... and ... more! I would be lying if I said my credit card hasn't taken a beating. I would also be lying if I told you all of it was justified. Sometimes a grandma has to get some practice in for the spoiling routine!
And then, smack in the middle of packing the Welcome Wagon for my grandbaby, came word that my Dad was sick. Not just a flu sick, but the kind of sick that would keep him in hospital for 2 months to date. Observing his health in recent weeks is like a nightmare roller coaster. And I realize that, although it came out of nowhere, this is my rite of passage to the "sandwich generation."
I have a living grandmother. I am becoming a grandmother. I am in middle of 5 generations.
I am parenting adult children. I am also parenting my mother equally as effectively these days, it seems. And a 6-yr-old. It seems impossible to decide how old I *feel,* as it seems to change from day to day.
I am worming the career I trained for, but looking forward to training for the career of my heart. I dream of counseling victims of domestic abuse some day.
I crave the sounds and smells of forest and ocean, but I love the wide open of the prairies. My husband and I have discussed purchasing a home near our favorite campground someday: on the edge of a salt-water lake. It's a happy compromise.
So how do we keep movimg when we're mired down in the middle of all? How do we rest when we're not anywhere we aim to be?
I was reminded this week of the verse in 2 Corinthians that reads, "We all...are being transformed into [His] image from glory to glory..." From glory to glory - and all points in between. The points that feel like a sharp decline from where we once were. The points that feel like an uphill climb. The in-betweens. They are part of the journey; they matter.
I am so grateful for those who join me on the journey and love me between the high points of life! One day, when we all get where we're going, we will see that the in-betweens colored most of the canvas of life. And it will be worth hanging in for!