Mother’s Day, From the Middle of the Sandwich

Today is Mother’s Day. It’s one of the days I am most aware of the compression that comes from being the center of this generational sandwich.

I’m a Mom, I should have something lovely today. And of course, there’s my Mom. She deserves something lovely, too.

But in a foul turn, my little guy is sick. All day fever, vomiting sick, rolling over from yesterday when I spent my day off consoling and caring for him.

Hubs is crazy sick too, so not much help from that court.

My mother’s calls started Friday, wanting to know if she was going to see Q and I. And wanting to know if she was going to see my brother. I hate that part of this – the fact that she, and everyone else in the family, seem to think I am my brother’s keeper.

Q was fine on Friday, so I said yes. But by mid-day Saturday the fever was raging and I wasn’t so sure. So I called her to prepare her for the possibility that either we wouldn’t be coming at all, or only I would.

The wavering voice and tears tugged at my conscience until I knew that she would at least be seeing me, no matter what.

A big giant MUST DO on a day I should be able to kick back and have a little me time.

This whole caring for a parent and caring for a child thing results in very little me time – it is rare and elusive, like a unicorn.

Then this morning –  how dearly I would have loved to at least sleep in.

But nay.

At six AM, the little guy woke, screaming at me. “I want ice in my water. I’m hoooooooot!” I woke, stupid from the speed at which I sat up, and had time to push the covers back before he threw up all over me.

I consoled him for a moment and got him settled back on his own bed before racing downstairs for ice and cleaning materials.

And because stupid never comes in small doses around here, the St. Bernard is going through her first menses. To spare you the graphic details, I’ll just say this: Thank God for slippers.

Dog out, and that mess cleaned up, I went back upstairs gave Q his ice water and began cleaning the floor around the bed. On my way back downstairs to dispose of the rags, the phone rang and the little digital voice announced that my mother was calling.

I ignored it in favor of throwing the blanket in the laundry and shedding my vomit covered PJs in favor of clean duds.

But I could hear her message. It was long, and she was already crying. I finished changing and grabbed the phone to reel her in.

She was upset because she expected both me and my bother to come visit her today and the nursing home hadn’t bathed her in two and a half weeks.


So I detoured away from the coffee maker that sat empty, mocking me from the kitchen, and went to my office instead. I had just sent the nursing home a rather nasty letter yesterday in response to learning that they waited 3 days before getting my mother an x-ray after she was injured in a transfer.

I opened up my email and began another letter while she talked.

For those of you that don’t have family in a nursing facility, you should know that it is a lot like elementary school. There are bullies and cliques and good ‘teachers’ and bad ‘teachers’. And living there brings back the adolescent angst that comes with that.

My mother hates it when I write these letters, or make those phone calls. She is afraid someone will get mad and treat her poorly. But in this case, as I wrote, I did name names and get detailed. Especially over an event during which the CNA responsible for bathing her crept into my mother’s room at 5 AM and set her clock back a half hour while my mother watched from her bed.

When she was done, my mother called her out on it and the girl admitted that she was tired and had hoped my Mom would go back so sleep after looking at the clock, so the bath would fall to the next shift.

This is both childish and unacceptable, and so hard on the heels of the most recent letter, I demanded a response from the administration.

While I was trying to calm my mother’s bully fears, Q began crying again. Back up the stairs to find I was in for more cleaning while I tried to calm my mother enough to disengage.

Outside, the dog was howling to come in, downstairs the letter to the nursing home was awaiting its final words, and Q just wanted to be held and rocked. I ignored the dog and the letter and sat with my son. I also ignored the phone when it rang, again announcing my mother. I just listened to her on the answering machine, reminding me that I had to bring her soap and shampoo when I came out.

For the filling in a generational sandwich, these days of acknowledgement and other joyful holidays are somewhat meaningless. We are always on duty. A card is nice, but help is better. And not on a ‘day’ – those days always come with demands. Give us a random Thursday. Or a Sunday afternoon. Offer to babysit. Go spend time with the people in nursing homes. They need the company so, so much. Or even better, offer to take the kids to the nursing home to see their grandparents.

Today, I’d be thrilled if someone could bring me some coffee. I haven’t had time to go grocery shopping and it appears that I’m out.


2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day, From the Middle of the Sandwich

  1. No child but a sister and a mother with demands – often conflicting – even the dog, an ancient senile incontinent joy of mothers life – I would come if you were not so far – yes an odd day, an odd hour is worth more than a card or a lunch – it’s not worth much but I and everyone who ‘cares’ who never seem to get a ‘day’ wish you well.

    I hope the sickness has passed and your mother is well


    • Thanks. It wasn’t a cheery post for Mother’s Day, but it seems that people who aren’t in care giving roles, especially non-traditional ones don’t grasp the time strain. I wish you well too!


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