A few weeks ago I had one of those encounters that reinforce my belief that many of our generation really do live in what I call the “club-sandwich” generation.
It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was working at home most of the day. About 2 pm I left home to drive to visit my mom, who is 94 and in an assisted living facility about 40 minutes away. We had, what is now, a standard 2 hour visit; reviewing her issues about the facility, staff, medication and general life concerns. I left her and drove across town to meet my son-in-law at the local JCC to then pick up my 9 month old grand daughter to drive her back to meet her mom.
A typical act, a typical day for so many boomers who flow back and forth over the care-giving spectrum in the course of a day. From one generation, and one set of relationships; to another. From being son to grandfather in a few moments; while still being husband, father and, oh yes, working.
This is no longer untypical. The multi-generational care-giving issue is now a fact of life for many of us. It is, at the same time, a joy and a challenge; managing schedules, logistics, commitments and needs. An additional challenge, of course, is when some of these logistics involve long-distance care-giving. This issue creates even more stress as some of us have to negotiate travel schedules as well as parental and grandparent demands.
One of the underlying challenges in all of this is the need to keep taking care of our own self. It is easy to get lost in the sea of logistics and schedules. Jewish tradition teaches the need for balance in life. Maimonides referred to this as his “golden mean”; the need to live life in balance, for when we allow our lives to be out of balance, illness strikes.
Let me suggest that this is a most important message. Many of us have friends (or are ourselves) involved in multi-generational care-giving issues. The demands can be overwhelming. The stresses can be powerful. Remember the tradition’s caution; take time for your self, take time to recharge and renew and to allow the balance of life to be re calibrated.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.