Welcome to my blog.
Maybe you are a friend and I told you to come and read this so I can have traffic- thank you. Maybe you found me because of my book and you wanted to find a space where you could belong and we could have conversation- thank you. Maybe you happen to come across me from some random cross post or some other blog- thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for taking the time to read and for engaging with what we have to say.
My name is Rayel and I am part of the sandwich generation. What does that mean? Well it's quite simple. It means that I care for my parents while I also care for my kids. Actually, it's not really that simple. When I come to think about it. It's hard. It's sucks. And it is probably the most challenging thing that I've done in a very, very long time. I don't want to say ever because absolutes will always come back to haunt me.
On my birthday, I got a phone call from the police that my 54-year-old father had had a stroke and a heart attack while riding his bicycle. That stroke left him with a traumatic brain injury of which he will never recover. He can't remember. He struggles with making decisions, or assessing time, or simply just doing the things that he needs to. The part of the brain that initiates things like remembering you need to go to the bathroom or getting yourself up off the couch or buying a birthday present, is damaged. He can't do those things without a lot of help. At one point, he couldn't remember that he was wearing pants. And I don't say this to embarrass my dad. He is the most loving, the most kind and the most brave person that I have ever met. And now he has to deal with a horrible injury that is impacting his life - and mine, to a lesser degree. And it was while my dad was in the hospital, that my mom was readmitted, rediagnosed, relapsed and passed away from cancer.
I was 26.
I was a newlywed for only four months and now had two parents in two different hospitals twenty minutes apart. When I was supposed to be checking out new breweries or planning exotic vacations with my husband, I was meeting with social workers. I was drafting power of attorney agreements. I was living day to day.
I became an expert in all things sandwich. Not just making them. And I can make a mean PB&J when the time calls for it. Actually, to be honest, I love cooking so I could probably make a fairly gourmet sandwich that might rival the dirty apron though. That is #goals.
But what I know and what I've learned is how to change diapers on adults and babies. I've learned how to put adults in time out and toddlers in time out. Navigate doctors as they don't believe the extent of injuries, and advocate for those who can advocate for themselves. I've been doing this for 8 years. So yeah, I kind of think it makes me an expert.
I entered this generation well before anybody that I know. My in-laws hadn't even entered this generation by the time that I've been here. As of writing this, I get questions from my friend's parents and my in-laws about how to deal with aging parents because I've already been through it. I'm 34 years old. I have one parent who has died, one parent who is living with a traumatic brain injury and two toddlers who need me more than ever before. I'm constantly navigating this world of ups and downs and stickiness that is peanut butter in the middle of this crazy peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I really didn't want to be a part of.
To those that have come here because you wanted to find community know this. I know when it sucks. I know when it's good. I know when it feels like all is lost and all you can do is cry but you have to keep moving and putting one step in front of the other. I know.
And so in those days when it's so lonely and you think no one understands and you don't know what to do next, I hope you find a friend here. I hope you find a friend who understands who gets it and who honest to goodness wants to walk with you through it. Because peanut butter sticks best together.
I started this blog as a place to share my learnings to share our stories to learn from one another about how to walk through this with grace, with dignity and to do what is best. No scratch that last to-do. Rather than what is best, I want us to share about what is most loving for those that we are doing life with. Whether that's our aging parents, our little kids, are grown up kids, or those that have already gone before us.
The sandwich generation is truly a stage of life, rather than a specific generation. (Hallelujah! Because I’ve had enough millennial stereotypes to last me a lifetime)
So, when things get overwhelming, when things get crazy, when you don't know where else to turn, you can turn here.
What you need to know is a few things. I will acknowledge front and center that I have extraordinary privilege. I am a white, upper middle class, university educated woman who lives in Vancouver, North America. I was born into wealth. Well, not significant. There is wealth nonetheless. I have been blessed with good health for most of my life in an opportunity to play university sport with the absolute best of teams (#gobirds).
I am Christian. I am a follower of Jesus and a person who desires a relationship with him. I overshare, I am way too sarcastic (just ask my husband). I also don't believe in pulling punches. And after all I’ve been through, I don’t believe in shallow or surface relationships. We simply don’t have time for that. I crave depth in conversation and people. You’ll find that in me.
As much as I feel like an expert on being in the sandwich generation, we all have our own experiences. I won't pretend to know yours, but I know that you will get to know mine. What I hope you'll find here is someone who gets it, someone who you can talk to, and someone who, no matter what, will love you. You'll find a faith bend to all the words that I write. I can't get away from it, it's part of who I am. It's part of what I believe, and why I have hope that things can and will be better.
I'm so glad you're here. I can't wait to talk to you to get to know you and to just do this crazy, sticky life that is life in the middle with you.
Thanks for being here. I love you already.