I am a ‘sandwich’ generation. The term is often used for middle aged people who have depended children at home and elderly parents simultaneously.
As people nowadays in Australia live an average ten years longer than in the 50’s due to advances in medications and scientific and technological breakthroughs, and as young adult children stay at home well into their 30s due to cost of living and completing double degrees, post-graduates etc, the middle generation is the one who juggles caring for both while still trying to maintain their own careers and relationships.
We often hear about the impact on the carers being overburdened by being stuck in this situation, in the middle. However, there are also benefits.
I’d like to share to you a recent experience that took place over VIBER, the APP that allows you to chat, send pictures and videos and Skype for free no matter where you are on the planet.
One day I received a text from my mother who lives in Greece with my father since my daughter was born 22 years ago and our contact is minimal to non-existent. She had joined VIBER and sent me a request to chat! This is my 73yo mother whom I haven’t been in touch with for over two decades!
Out of curiosity I asked my daughter what Viber is! She couldn’t believe I didn’t know! ‘ Gotta love old people and technology!’ she said!
_’Umm, excuse me’, I replied. ‘Who are you calling old?’ (After all it was my old mother who had made contact through this APP! Suddenly it dawn upon me: I’m the sandwich generation! Young for my parents. Old for my daughter. Learning from both generations, the one before me and the one after me!
Upon establishing communication we now exchange pics and videos of our dogs and our dinners and share more than we have ever shared in decades!
The other day my father also added me on Viber! Admittedly, it was awkward as I don’t remember three things I’ve done with my father. However, after the first awkwardness melted away we started relating in a way we never have.
In his last chat he told me that he is proud of me because no matter what challenge life has thrown at me, I have a way of turning it to an opportunity. This resilience is a true gift, he said, and he admires me for it!
Well, that was a surprise to say the least! I thanked him for his kind words and even though in my fifties I don’t actually crave parental approval, it was nice hearing this from my otherwise absent father.
Will technology save us in the end?