How do you balance your attention to between your young children and your elderly parent?

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wincek1, I think crowemagnum gave a lot of thought to his response and brought up many key points. Yes, as others suggested, you are part of the sandwich generation but you may have been programmed by your mother to respond to her in too many ways (that are neither good for you, your children, or your marriage). As crowemagnum pointed out - your mother may have found a way to push your buttons. Does she know how to make you jump and you are still asking "Am I jumping high enough, Mother?" ?? Some people can devour you if you don't protect yourself and even then, their appetite is not satisfied and they are still not content. Is this the situation in your case? I am sorry your mother is nervous - can she be treated for this nervousness or does "being nervous" keep YOU under her control and she likes this power? I know it may sound like I am making your mother sound like something of a con artist but some people ARE this way, wittingly or unwittingly. I hope reading online info regarding the sandwich generation will help you learn how to strike a healthy balance in dealing with everything in your life. Best wishes.
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Check out our community moderator Carol Bursack's article on the Sandwich Generation. Some great info!
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When I was on a drug abuse prevention task force, we were exposed to a lot of parenting information. One expert said the way to raise a self-reliant child was to tap into their natural desire to please adults, to gain a little hero attention. The best way to do that is to have them assist you, like a little boy is thrilled to help dad tune up the car, learning about wrenches, sparkplugs, and gas fumes.

But bet the allure is not shining on this caregiving task, and the kids might even be scared of the whole thing and resentful it's taking you away. Perhaps you can give them meaningful tasks to help in this that would be fun for them, and that you can share some pat-on-the-back moments with them. They really helped. One thing I am always doing is looking up stuff on the net, like cures for leg cramps and signs of urine retention. Side effects of drugs. That would be a good one, "Johnny, could you search to see if itchy scalp and skin is a side effect of Grandma's new drug?" There are drug user forums that will open his eyes to a world of reality.
I remember when mom brought home her mother for a few months before she entered nursing home for short period, dying of colon cancer. I was away at college at the time, but was open enough to hear my grandma's story of the traumatic night grandpa died. He was on the floor, and she struggled to get him up. In retrospect, I think I served her well that I would stand there and listen to her carefully.
You might create a theme song for this period in your life for both you and your children. You can hum it whenever things get out of balance. I suggest "Stand by Me" as played by the Playing for Change group. This is what I am doing for my mother, in spite of all the times I've been told "you deserve your own life... put her in a nursing home." You can see this song online video by googling Stand by Me Playing for Change. The dvd of their songs is inexpensive.

A storytellers story to pull on them one day is (google Wooden Bowl Story, or similar one Story of the Half Blanket). In both stories, it is the child who takes the side of the frail senior, and shames the parents into really caring for their dying parents. You could even make up that your own grandma (mother of the woman you are caring for) told you this story as she cared for her own parents. Make it a Passed down through the generations tale (even if you just learned it) and that will sear it more into their consciousness.

I suppose you could do some research into what really makes people happy. Large cash prizes and stuff gives happiness for about three months. Read the excellent book "When Your Falling DIVE" with chapter after chapter of excellent interviews with those who have mastered dealing with catastrophe and come out the better for it. Perhaps you can all read a chapter a week and discuss the issues. d
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I don't have young children, my sons are 19 and 21. That's a good thing for me because when we all go over one can stay with mom while the other goes to the market, or to the nursery with me.

Mom spent a lot of time with all of us when I was married, this wasn't too healthy I later realized, but now that she is sick, the boyz do what they can when they can. One is preparing to go in the Marines in a few months and the other is working, and trying to get back into college and doesn't leave a lot of time but when they can they are there. One is more sensitive than the other and that's why I'm glad I don't just have one child to do it all, because the other one isn't and he makes up for the sensitive one.

Boys seem to be very devoted and they are certainly a support system for me.

I understand the nervousness, my mom was that way too. Not now though she has calmed down a whole lot.

Hope this helps.
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From reading your profile, I have some questions about you, how you are doing and your taking care of yourself.

"I am my mothers "everything". Have been all my life." Does this mean that you are her only child? I'm an only child myself.

"She is very nervous, extremely picky and I can't do anything right." Has this been true her whole life or just since she's become older? If she's been like this all of her life then it sounds like she possibly knows how to push your buttons.

" It's been three years of caregiving and my depression is really sinking in."
Have you been diagnosed with depression, gotton medical help, and gone to someone for some talk therapy to help with the depression, the anticipatory grief, and worry over balancing your life which is in a jam? I'm not a therapist, but I would see someone about all of the above.

It is good that your mother is in assisted living because that does give your family some personal space which is good with the children out of school for the summer. Since this has been going on for 3 years now, how have you sought to balance these summer times in the past? How have you handled how much time you spend with your mother duing the school year when the children are in school?

This might seem obvious, but have you and your husband sat down and talked about all of this? What is his perception about the situation, your depression and balancing time between him, children and your mom?
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This sound to me like "the sandwich generation"

Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.

Check online-as there are many articles on this subject of 'the sandwich generation-and good luck on your caregiving journey.

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i wanted my kid to see I didn't run when the going got tough,I wanted her to see loyalty within the family unit and that getting old deserved respect.We live in a time that for financal and marketing purposes youth is honored and getting old isn't. My daughter helped with the caregiving-she saw the good-bad and the ugly.She got a lesson in humanity that no school could have ever taught.She had activities still she went too,our alone time was very high quality and not taken for granted-it was very hard-when you love someone you make sacrifices for them when needed.Aunts and uncles can be great-ours weren't-but I have seen some that are great help.Explain to the kid s what is going on and why and what you want the end result to be.Don't ever under estimate a kids power esp. when it comes to grandma and grandpa. .
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This sounds to me as though you are cought in the 'sandwich generation' There is much about this delimna on the net---you may want to type in the sandwich generation into your browser and a lot of information will come up-for you to sort out-and hopefully take advantage of.
Good luck
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