11 Books for the Sandwich Generation
When I became a part of the sandwich generation, I searched high and low for a manual. For anything that would teach me what I needed to know, especially for dealing with my parents. I wanted a version of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting….to Parent your Parents.” I wanted the real life stories, the advice. The step-by-step instructions for getting through appointments. The conversation guide for telling your parents that they aren’t necessarily capable of babysitting your kids anymore.
Instead, I found a lot of blank space. A few random non-scholarly articles about the term ‘sandwich generation’ but nothing about what it’s like to be in it. There were generic tips but no one with lived experience who was willing to talk about it. (Which, spoiler alert, is exactly why I wrote “God Give Me Faith). And especially as someone who became the sandwich generation at 26 years old, I had no peers.
I’m always craving new reads and things that will maybe give me a tidbit of two of advice so here’s my tried and true list of books that, even if not directly talking about those of us in the middle, have some good ideas for how to survive the season we are in.
God Give Me Faith – there had to be some shameless self-promotion but really and truly, this is the book I wish was out there when I started changing adult diapers. It’s a story about loss and hope. That community and faith – in yourself, your people and God – can make this season bearable. It’s a book that hopefully sparks conversation, creates a community of those walking through it and a place to celebrate what it means to be doing life in the middle.
To Have and To Hold: Motherhood, Marriage and the Modern Dilemma – Molly Millwood. An amazing read on Mom guilt and how life events like becoming a mother or the sandwich generation impacts every part of your life. She wrote the things I was thinking, but too afraid to say out loud.
Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First – Laura Tremaine. If you want to go to therapy but for some reason can’t, this book is for you. I challenge you to do the work, to answer her questions and honestly spend time journalling your responses. This fully and truly changed my life.
While We Walk: Poems to Keep You Going - Deanna Pauls. These are the poems that I keep coming back to, the ones that stick to your heart like glue and make you wonder at both life, and faith. They put words to feelings, articulating what I couldn’t in the roughest of seasons. And gave me hope for the next step.
Send Me Into the Woods Alone - Erin Pepler. This series of essays has been my Top Read of 2023! Relatable, funny and felt like she was in my head, copying my thoughts directly onto the paper. While not directly dealing with those in the sandwich generation, the articulation of the reality of the struggles of motherhood made me feel seen and known - and reminded me that I am not alone.
What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing - Bruce Perry & Oprah Winfrey. I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite book at first. It felt like a transcript of a conversation between Dr. Perry and Oprah. But, knowing that entering this generation can be big T Traumatic or little t traumatic, this book can be helpful in understanding why you feel what you do, and how to make the most of it. I’ve heard many friends tell me that this has been incredibly impactful so I’ll leave this with you.
This is Assisted Dying – Stefanie Green. I will say that as a Christian reading this, I was conflicted. And I’d like to clarify that I don’t know my own theology well enough to know where I stand on this sometimes controversial issue. Watching my parents both suffer, I can completely understand why medical assistance in dying is available and why some choose it. This book was eye opening for many reasons, and challenged me in how I engage with the world and those suffering in it. Bring tissues, and your Bible to read alongside.
Everything Happens for a Reason: And other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler. Outright, I might be the biggest Kate Bowler fan on the planet. Her books line my shelves and her podcast is on my Spotify ‘most played’ list. This is a witty look at a terrible diagnosis, and challenges us to look at suffering in a society that insists that everything happens for a reason.
No Cure for Being Human – Kate Bowler. Her wit comes through again in this book that reminds us to look for peace in a culture that says anything is possible. And when things like parenting your parents and kids feels impossible, this book reminds me of the truth.
Nothing to Prove: And Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard – Jennie Allen. Sometimes, my expectations of myself are set far too high. I’m expecting myself to be at every appointment, to never need coffee and to know exactly how to have tough, weird or awkward conversations with my kids and dad. This book helped me take my eyes off of my problems, and point them to Jesus.
The Bible – Can’t say it enough. This is the book you need. If you aren’t sure where to start, the gospel of Matthew or book of Romans is a good place to get started. God’s got you. No matter your season, no matter how big the challenge, you are not alone.
Any books I’m missing? I’m always looking for new reads – let me know below!