Sunday, January 8, 2012

My sandwich.

I had a discussion recently with someone about being an only child; they were an only child (as am I) and didn't like it. They would have preferred having a sibling.  She was raised by her grandparents, so having a brother or sister would have given her someone in her age range to spend time with.   My father is the age of most people's grandparents, so I can relate. Though if you ask, which people have, I was and am ok with being an only child.  I don't really know what I would have missed so how could I miss it.  I never had to share (although I do know how), there were never arguments over who would get what (I always got it) and I was always the centre of my parents attention (didn't have to struggle to get noticed). As a child if there was something I wanted it didn't need to be balanced between what the other kids in the family wanted or needed.  The budget belonged to me, so to speak.  (You can call that spoiled if you like, I consider it 'well taken care of')

As an adult however, being the only child, the care and welfare of my parents falls squarely on my non-siblinged shoulders. Medical appointments, property management, errands and the like are my burden ( thankfully things are far from being burdenous, but you get the idea).  Perhaps if I had a sibling they would assist in these often trivial, yet time consuming 'cares' for our parents.  Perhaps...they wouldn't.  They might live on a different continent and be no help whatsoever,  even live in the same town and still be of no assistance. Worse yet....they would be entitled to a part of my family's multi-billion dollar estate (HA!) Seriously though, I don't miss having a brother or sister, nor do I know what I missed.  I suppose reaping the benefits of being a sole-child is the reward for being the parental caregiver.

A friend of mine calls me part of the "Sandwich Generation".  People who are in the middle of caring for their young children as well as their elderly parents.  I have friends who have kids in their 20's, my daughter is 8.  I have friends whose parents are just  now considering retirement, my father retired the year I graduated high-school - he is now 88.

Everybody has their 'sandwich' to bear.  Our lives are all different.  Some are caring for their own siblings, grandchildren, friends. Others are  primary caregivers in some very difficult situations. We don't get to pick our sandwiches, we can only make due with the ingredients we are given. Sometimes my sandwich is jam, occasionally peanut butter and once in a while bologna but it's my sandwich and wishing for any other wouldn't guarantee a better sandwich....just a different one.

Until next time.


Kathryn said...

Thank you for the insight. I am not an only child but the "sandwich" metaphor definitely gives me another way of looking at the situation I find myself in with my sibling and elderly parent.

Frantastic™ said...

Thanks for the comment Kathryn. When we throw our jobs and spouses into the mix...there is rarely time for 'us'. It's quite the phenomena being stuck in a sandwich.