The "Slamwich" Generation

When my girls were younger we came across a card game called Slamwich. It is a fun, fast paced game, where you build sandwiches using cards that have pictures of bread, lettuce, bacon and other sandwich type fixings. While you are trying to build your sandwich you have to keep an eye out for the sandwich thieves who try to steal your sandwiches. At certain points in the game you slam your hand down yelling, "Slamwich," if you see the fixings for an entire sandwich, sandwiched in the discard pile. It was a favorite game of many of the kids their age and would often be accompanied by lots of yelling and slamming.


You may have heard of the sandwich generation. This phrase refers to people who are of an age where their lives are sandwiched between the demands of their children struggling for autonomy and the demands of caring for aging parents. The point at which one enters the sandwich arena depends on the age and maturing of the children and the increasing demands of parents with failing health or mental capabilities.

This past weekend I went to visit my mother. My father died 10 years ago, so my mother has been living alone for quite a while now. My oldest brother lives in the area, so he is there for her when she needs a job done around the house, if there is an emergency, or just to have her over for dinner with the family. I am thankful that Jeff is there and that he has taken an active part in helping my aging mother. He is definitely in sandwich mode. 

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull .

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull.

As I drove the five and a half hours home, I began to think about that term and the thought struck me that it is really more like the slamwich generation! Sometimes, it feels more like we are getting slammed between the demands of these other generations of people. I think many of our children are self focused. We were too at that age. They don't often think outside the box of go to work, hang out with friends, go to school. Life revolves around what pleases them and what they think makes life significant. Married children are establishing their own homes, their own routines and starting families. You would think that it makes it easier for us who are in the middle of the bread! But I am still helping them out, whether it be with a little money to help them through another month of bills, or being available for babysitting. For older people, their demands are more obvious. While I was at my mother's she was having a large amount of anxiety over many different things. She has a harder time sleeping at night, so even that becomes a source of fear. I was able to calm her and help her work through some of that. I don't know about you other sandwichers, but it can be both mentally and emotionally taxing to be in this position..

I have a few bits of advice for all of us who are feeling like we are on display in the deli case at an upscale grocery store:

1. Remember, you are an essential part of that other person's life. They wouldn't be making demands of you, if you weren't needed or appreciated. Well, okay, the appreciation thing is questionable, but you are needed. Whether you are caring for your live-in mother-in-law with dementia, or caring for your grandson while his single mother goes to work, you are important.

2. God has a purpose in all of the messes of life, the lovely ones and the ugly ones. His desire is that we reflect His characteristics of love, compassion, gentleness and long suffering. Long suffering is definitely a slamwich characteristic.

3. I saw a quote recently on a picture at a thrift store over the weekend that I almost brought home with me:  

Patience with others is love. Patience with self is hope. Patience with God is faith.
— Unknown

How appropriate for those of us who are feeling the pressure of being in the slamwich generation. We have to have patience with these people we love, especially when the pressure is great. Our responses to them can turn them toward Jesus or turn them away. We also need patience with ourselves. There are times we need to get away. Take a walk. Don't answer the phone. Take a long bubble bath. Read a book. Get together with your friends and watch a movie. Be good to yourself and give yourself a break. And we need to be patient with God. He is trustworthy and He knows what He's doing, even when we don't have a clue.

Photo credit  Josh Jones  on StockSnap.

Photo credit Josh Jones on StockSnap.

I want to encourage all of you who find yourselves feeling like the salami and cheese smashed between two pieces of stale wheat bread, hang in there. You are not alone and you are His beautiful servant bringing hope and comfort to those in need.

A Memorial to Moms

Since this past Sunday was Mother's Day, I thought it fitting to write a post for all of you moms out there, or at least the few of you who might stop in to read this blog. While our country has been honoring mothers for over 100 years, it seems hardly appropriate to give moms only one day of honor and recognition. After all, the rest of humanity wouldn't even be here if it weren't for mothers. In reality, very little of what truly goes on in a mother's life is about honor and recognition. Motherhood is a memorial to the pains of birth, followed by the pains of the heart. A life of toil, meeting the needs and demands of others, with snippets of joy and laughter slipped in. A stew made up of love, sweat, tears, scented soaps, dry hands and pretty scarves. A woman, but not just that, a mother, is a conglomeration of people; a melting pot of jobs and a garden of everything from herbs and vegetables, to flowers and cacti.

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

My mother, a small woman of English descent still wears a headscarf that makes her look like a little Polish babushka. She is a lady who knows how to whip up a pot of chicken soup and clean a house. She was a Sunday School teacher to 2 and 3 year olds for over 50 years. Her hands and face are wrinkly, but her eyes blaze with light and her heart loves to dance and laugh. At 89 years of age she still lives independently in the home I was raised in. 

Mom and Dad C

My mother-in-law was an oncology nurse for over 20 years. She has a poise and dignity that carry over into everything she does. She makes fabulous meals and has been a source of love, fun and inspiration to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. In her retirement she continues to care for and help anyone her life touches including her own husband who has Parkinson's.

There are not enough pages to give moms their due. But we must also acknowledge that all we see on a day to day basis, only glosses over the surface of who a mother really is. She is human. She was born with a sin nature and struggles against it all of her life. She knows the voice of the enemy because he lashes her with guilt and regret. She has been down the road of "what ifs" a million times and has worn a spot in the carpet somewhere with her nighttime pacing. She could own stock in the Kleenex company and I know God has many alabaster jars full of tears in heaven. She wants to be what everyone expects of her, but also realizes that is impossible. She wants her husband to succeed, but more often than not, feels too overwhelmed to help him do it. She desires the best life for her children, but must only stand back and watch when they make choices that guarantee that life will not happen. She has hopes and dreams for herself, but she is willing to give them all up to simply be for everyone else.

Who is your mother? She is a warrior! She will fight for you. She is a priestess! She will pray for you. She is a bear! She will protect you. She is a light! She will guide you. She is a fire! She will warm you. She is so many things and more because that is who God made her. God made you, Mom and you are the crown of His creation! 


How to Get out of a Sticky Wicket

Many of you have heard the term, "sticky wicket". See the origin of this term here. I love to say the term with a bit of an English accent and usually say it when referring to a difficult situation. Family dynamics are often a quandary. You feel, as a parent, the need to be in charge and admitting when you mess up proves that you aren't. It becomes a bit of a sticky wicket.


This week on my blog I have been talking about confession. Confession within our families is a hard task. It involves humility and selflessness. But not confessing when we have hurt, maimed and mutilated allows the enemy to create walls and distance between us and those we love most.

When I was a young mom I was incredibly impatient with our two daughters and my husband. I would lose my temper, yell and throw things. Over the years God began to deal with me. He revealed through church, friends and His word how to manage discipline and life without anger. I started apologizing to my kids and my spouse when I would blow up, admitting to them it was wrong and that I was sorry.


Confession does not always mean an automatic change in behavior. Often, God allows difficulty to enter our lives to temper us. I know He did in mine. While suffering can cause us to be bitter, we need to choose to whom we are loyal. Bitterness will not make my relationship with God better, nor with my family. I must be pliable clay in the Potter's hands. 

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
— Jeremiah 18:1-4

Today, think about your family. Is there someone you need to confess to? Someone who deserves an apology? Did you snip at your husband this morning? Did you yell at your daughter to clean her room? Did you discipline your five year old out of anger and impatience? Go to them and confess. Restore their faith in you and in God. It's worth it to get out of the "sticky wicket."

Every Choice Affects Someone

Monday's post on my faith page talked about sin. The whole point of Jesus being born, living, teaching, dying and rising was to free us from sin; to restore us to a right relationship with God our Heavenly Father. Like ripples on water being part of a family means that we are always affecting or influencing someone else by our choices. As much as we hear the mantra, "It's okay as long as you aren't hurting anyone else," it isn't a realistic statement. Everything we do affects someone else. Everything we don't do affects someone else.

As a wife my choices affect my husband. More accurately my sins affect my husband. I used to think what I ate, what I listened to, what I thought was only affecting me, but it wasn't. When I eat poorly I am more tired. This impacts my relationship with Mark in that I am not able to enjoy evenings together because I am constantly yawning and intimacy gets tossed aside in favor of sleep. Other sins, such as pride, self-absorption and disrespect also affect my marriage.

As a mother, my choices affect my children. The sin of worry and anxiety have led me to more than one emotion filled discourse with my adult daughters. And for the most part that only leads to further frustration and pain, rather than healthy communication. Gluttony, anger and lack of trust in God affect how my daughters relate to me and how I represent Christ to them.

If you are a single person you may be breathing a sigh of relief. "Oh good! I don't have to worry about my choices or my sins affecting other people." But of course you do. If you are living at home, your choice to drink excessively affects your parent(s) every time you stay out late. If you have a job, your choice to not show up on time, affects your boss and your fellow employees. Every choice has a ripple affect and that goes for the good ones as well as the bad ones.

As members of a family, and representatives of Christ, we need to think about how our choices will affect those around us. A choice to sin, or do something against God will have far reaching effects for you and for those you love. Choose to choose wisely; choose to choose love instead of self interest. Make a difference to your spouse, your kids and those around you for good.

Wait a Minute! This is Not What I Signed Up For!

If you would have told me when I first got pregnant the path I would be walking today, I may have run away screaming. I looked at motherhood, both as exciting and terrifying. Midnight feedings, colic, terrible twos, followed by temperamental threes, potty training...that was a cake walk. Parenting adults, not so much.

When our children are small, we have some amount of control. We can control their environment, when they eat, who they play with, where they go and so on. As they get older we begin to expand the boundaries. They go off to school, or in my case we homeschooled, and we begin to allow them more freedom. They go to their friends' homes, with our knowledge of the family they are hanging around with. We try to help them make good choices, take them to church, limit their choices of music and movies, while still allowing them to broaden their understanding of the world. 

Of course, then puberty hits and all chaos breaks loose. We find ourselves reeling from the increasing lack of control we have. Their social circles broaden and suddenly we are left out. We don't know who all of their friends are and we don't always know where they are. We blink our eyes and they are graduating from high school and off to college. Wait a minute! What just happened? Could we go back to when they were small? There are some things I would like to do over.

You might be asking yourself some of the same questions I have asked, "How did we get here? Where did I mess up? When did I go from 'Mommy' to 'chopped liver'? I understand. I have two adult daughters. They have both gone through difficulties, some by their own choosing and some heaped upon them by others. As mothers we hurt...gosh I have hurt...when my daughter's fiancee asked for the ring back; when my other daughter told us she was pregnant...and there is more, so much pain. And perhaps the hardest part as a mom is not being able to do anything; not take the pain away, not heal the hurt, not change the past. I have no control. I am powerless. Or at least, that is how it feels at times.

The truth, dear ones, is that you, as a mom, have the greatest power in the universe....the capacity to love. God gave women this very special ability to love. So even though your relationship with your children changes and you can't keep them from making bad choices or having harmful things happen to them, you can still love them. Day in, day out. And for some, that and prayer are the best chance your child has.

So each day I make a conscious choice to try to mirror Jesus. To love as He would love, give help when it is needed and withhold words when they are not wanted (sometimes the hardest thing to do). I love my adult children just as much as when I first saw their little faces, it is just different and that is okay.

Rachel and Rebecca ready for Halloween 2012.

Rachel and Rebecca ready for Halloween 2012.

Grand-parenting or Co-parenting?

When did grand-parenting become co-parenting? When did we go from grand to co?  I mean co isn't even an entire word...It doesn't matter, really. When my grandson calls me by the name he chose, he calls me Grandma, not Coma!  There are times, though, at days' end, after co-parenting, I feel like I am in a coma.

Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Back in the day, grandparents visited.  Today, many of us co-parent with our adult children, watching their children, for many reasons ranging from single parenthood and financial hardship to being the only trustworthy choice for daycare.

My grandson, like many boys at age 4 and 5, loves to go to play lands or playgrounds, weather permitting.  Sitting at MacDonald's after we have finished our meal, I watch him run furiously in the play area. I also people watch, a pastime I enjoy.  Often, I see other women, and sometimes men, my age or older looking very tired.  Like me, they've brought their grandchild there as a way to use up time in an otherwise long day, in an otherwise long week.  Let's face it, 18 to 30 year olds are more physically capable of dealing with a 4 year old's incessant questions.

"Grandma, where are we going?"


"Grandma, what are you doing?"


"Grandma, why do I have to take a bath? Why do I have to go potty?  Why do I need to eat? Why can't I have more gum? Why can't we go out for ice cream? Why is that man fat?"

"Grandma, why are you yawning?"

Co-parenting is the new normal. My own daughter, Rachel, is a single mom, working at a coffee shop.  She just makes ends meet and paying for a sitter would be out of the question.  While state aid is often available, many of us would rather watch our grandkids, than put them in a setting where they might fall through the cracks.

Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

The love we feel towards our children is immense, but the love we feel towards our grandchildren, at times, exceeds reason. Perhaps what drives us is a desire to nurture and feel needed; perhaps it is a desire for a second chance to do better. Whatever your reasons for becoming a co-parenter rather than just a grandparent, hang in there! God knows your capabilities and your children and grandchildren. He knows you are an essential piece of the puzzle and He is faithful. He will provide strength, love and even continuous, gentle responses to all of those whys.