Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Sandwich Mum

It's going to be a quickie today as I have to take my mum shopping and my son to the hairdressers.  There's a name for people like me and it's not "mug", it's "sandwich mum".  Sounds daft I know but it's the new label we women are given when we find ourselves looking after an elderly parent whilst still caring for children.
My conversations can switch from how many kills streaks have been achieved in "Call of Duty" to the disgusting state of the next door neighbour's garden, within the blink of an eye.
Often I don't have time to catch my breath between two conversations - hard of hearing mum and over-eager teenage boy vying for my attention is not an easy combination.
Luckily my son has a very close relationship with his grandmother and they often have a laugh and a joke together. He's great for re-setting clocks for her, scheduling programmes on her Freeview recorder and sorting out electrical glitches.  She can burp on demand for him, give pocket money and generally stick up for him when I'm giving him a hard time.  So for them it all works out rather well.
For me, it can be tough.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have it any other way but I do sometimes find myself caught between the two very different relationships.  It can come down to something as simple as forgetting which one I'm talking to.  Son - short, speedy answers.  Low attention span!  Mum - clear, well explained with lots of detail - bored by herself all day so wants a good gossip when she finally sees someone!
Then of course, you have the daft whacky nonsense that teenage boys are famous for coming up with - catchphrases and "in" jokes.  I live with them so I'm tuned in but you try explaining half of them to a perplexed 84 year old and see what kind of knots you get yourself into!  I've given up now and generally say, "Oh just ignore him!"
Speed is another issue, for obvious reasons.  One's got the brake on and one's hard down on the accelerator.  You quite simply can't be piggy in the middle with them or, when out shopping for instance, you may well meet yourself coming into the shop as you're leaving!
A lesson learnt last week is never go to the opticians with mother and son for all three of us to have eye tests.  It was like something from a 50's farce with me entering and leaving doors like a whirling dervish.  Mum is overwhelmed and doesn't feel well, optician needs to discuss son's prescription, mum needs the loo, son wants prescription sunglasses.  When it came to my turn, the optician told me to relax as my pressure was slightly up in one eye - relax?  Fat chance, any chance you can check my blood pressure while you're at it?
Yes being a "sandwich mum" should come with a health warning but I'm grateful for having them both around.
One day, hopefully in the very, very, very distant future, neither of them will need me any more.
And that will make me sad.

My debut novel, Diary of a Mummy Misfit is on Amazon for Kindle. 
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  1. I love, love, LOVE this blog entry and I can *so* relate. I am a Sandwich Generation Mom too ~ but my mom is 80 and my daughter is 2-1/2.

  2. I love that your mum can burp on demand - I had no idea how long that skill could last!

    What a lovely (and very funny) post about the three generations in your family.

    My kids still need me (they're 13 and 10) and my parents don't "need" me quite yet (early 70's and healthy).