In 1965, The Who’s “My Generation” captured the mood of young people worldwide and became an anthem for a generation of teenagers. Now, more than 40 years later, an increasing number of these Baby Boomers are sandwiched in the middle as they care for their aging parents while raising their own children. They are what I like to call “Sandwich Boomers.”
Several years ago two related events brought this reality home to me in a vivid way. My 16-year-old son got his driver’s license while my 78-year-old father was forced to give up driving. The pride I felt from my son’s accomplishment was dampened by the sobering reality of my dad’s loss of freedom.
Sobering, too, was the realization that in my 50s, I’m closer to my dad’s age than my son’s. I, too, am slowing down in sometimes imperceptible ways. No longer can I run long distances without hip pain or boast a flat stomach. I don’t hear half of what’s said to me, but I’m determined to keep my teenage son’s perspective that life is great and well worth the living.
Yes, being a “Sandwich Boomer” has its own challenges:
As teens become more mature and independent, their grandparents become more dependent and childlike. It reminds me that our lives are a fleeting vapor that’s here today and gone tomorrow.
As a generational middleman, I must try to understand my parent’s world as well as my teen’s…and be able to communicate to both. This was brought home recently when my mom confronted my teenage son about his Dead Kennedys t-shirt. He saw it as only the name of a band, while she thought it was disrespectful to a family that has been scarred by tragedy. I tried to explain to them the other’s point of view, but neither one changed their mind. As for me, I’ll stick with The Who. Everybody gets that one.
Published May 14, 2012 on Genius Avenue.com. Reprinted with permission.