We live in a fast paced, ever changing world.
In January of this year, I turned 50! I was officially middle aged, if I live to reach 100. But I didn’t have time to dwell on this milestone. Within a week of my birthday, my mother was hospitalized after having emergency surgery. For the next three months, I was at the hospital, everyday, brushing her hair, helping her bathe, encouraging her to eat. Most of the time, I just sat silently with her. It made her feel secure and loved. It was a battle both emotionally and physically for both of us but finally she was well enough to go home. She still had a long road of recovery to go but I was so thankful that I could take a breath and get back to taking care of myself, my husband and my kids. I wanted things to go back to normal.
But what is normal? If I had turned 50 in 1976, normal would mean that I was a stay at home mom, married, with two children. I would be preparing them to go off to college. Once they left home, they would more than likely, not ever come back to live with me. I would be an empty-nester, planning my husband’s retirement and looking forward to going south every winter. I’m not saying the following like I think it’s a positive but my parents probably would have passed on as well.
But for me, having turned 50 in 2015, my family life looks very different. My children, having left home for school, have now returned. My “children” are now adults. And my family is not unusual. According to Employment Canada, 42.3% of adult children, are currently living with their parents. Job prospects and the economy have made it very difficult for these grown ups to make it in the world alone without considerable help from their parents.
As well, thankfully, my mother was able to return to her own home. There were many times I didn’t think that would happen and I was preparing for the next step, becoming a three generation household. Until 2001, Statistics Canada didn’t even include this demographic in their census. It had become a new, blossoming definition of family, worthy of inclusion. If my mother would have come to live with us, I would have joined the 2.2 million Canadian individuals “sandwiched” between taking care of ageing parents and raising children.
So what does this all mean? It means that baby boomers are stressed, financially burdened and losing their sense of self under the weight of their many responsibilities.
Now that’s what I call a midlife crisis!
If this sounds like your family life, there are things you can do to make sure you don’t suffer a burnout.
- Make a plan now for the future, both financially and emotionally
- Make time to pursue interests outside of the family
- Ask other family members or friends for help and/or reach out to community services
Take care of yourself. Remember, it’s the meat in the sandwich that keeps it all together.