I sure do wish the “sandwich generation” meant a decades worth of people who can’t stop reliving their childhoods by eating countless Fluffernutters. Or a generation of people who had the good fortune to grow up in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Even better, a large swath of the public that can only enjoy sex in between two other people. I could probably get behind that. Because the one referred to by sociologists is way more challenging on multiple levels.

When my husband first planned this two week trip to Central America I thought it would be a great time to have Grandma come out and bond with the kids. We’d cook meals together and crawl in to a big bed at night and tell stories. We’d be latter-day, urban Waltons, for anyone still old enough to get that reference. When each of my children were born my mother came out for a week and was incredibly helpful shopping for groceries and running the house while I was laid up with c-section scar and new borns. I would wake up from an afternoon nap with a baby still sleeping just slightly off my breast and delight in the smell of onions sautéing on the stove. And rather than torture me as it did when I was growing up, the site of her ubiquitous glass of wine on the kitchen counter made me feel like my mommy was here and everything would be okay. Which is what made this recent trip, almost four years later, so startling. I felt exactly the opposite. I worried most of the time that something was going to break, either an item in my house, or one of her bones. My boys would hang on her or try to drag her to look at one of their creations and I would flash forward to an emergency room visit and a wheel chair.  In a heightened state of anxiety, after I coming home and tripping on one of the cupboard doors that had been unhinged by her and was resting against the back door, I called a friend to complain about her.

“You do realize you’re going to be old someday, right?” she asked me.

Uh oh.

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