Generation X …trying to doing the right thing

Christophers 3rd birthday with Grandma Wanda and Grandpa Jim and Cody helping with gift

Christopher’s 3rd birthday with Grandma Wanda and Grandpa Jim and Cody helping with gift

       I hate to admit it but I am a Gen-X-er. Not a hippy or yuppy and that puts me and my friends in a strange place. We are the generation that the government informed ,you will not have money from social security, you will not make more money then your parents and you will need a college education if you some how are able to make more money then your folks. Chances are that you will not live in one place more than seven years and you will have to care for your children and those ageing parents of yours at the same time.  The generation of “The Big squeeze” really.

  I guess at 45, I am now really in the middle of my own personal “Big squeeze”. I have found over the years that anything promised to past generations is all but gone for mine. Pensions, unions, Insurance, retirement, job security, homes, have dried up blown away. My generation, the “Me” generation, had fun while the party lasted ( it was a big over blown drug induced ego trip for years) but some how the hangover just never really went away. I am still waiting to say “yea things are going great I have my dreams and security too”. 

    The last few of years of my life have been a lesson on, “do what is right”, not for money, fame or glory. Just do what is right and except the blessings from that lesson. As most of you already know I have a young son who I gave birth to about two months before my 40th birthday  after 17 years of not getting pregnant. It seemed almost impossible to think that I was going to go through the whole process again. Then about the same time my Mother who was about to have her 80 birthday informed the family that she wanted to move out of her home into a senior community. She had grown tired of home ownership and of the up keep. That same christmas my step father in law who was 79 began the slow decline into dementia, then  Alzheimer’s making my mother-in-laws life a daily struggle. This began my step into the life that america predicted almost 25 years ago. I am a worker/care giver who doesn’t receive any pay for most of the things I do.

    So now 4 years later, I still do  “what is right”. I quit my 40 hour a week job to stay home more for my son ( the best for him) and lost half my income to work part-time in the evenings. My family  helped my mother sell her home in the worst of the economic crises, and lost about 40,000$ in the process, to make sure she was happy and well taken care of (the very best for her). I have helped with my mother-in-laws and father-in-laws care( the best I could do for them). The Hospice nurses took over much of grandpa Jim’s care this week, but mom will not leave his side. Leaving me and the other kids to do the shopping, cleaning, bill paying, yard work that has totally over whelming them ( the very best I can do for someone who is dying). These duties are like a job added on to a list of things I already do. I am feeling the “Big Squeeze” of less money and more demands placed in front of me. It is hard to balance childhood and old age with little or no pay.

Christopher with his Grandma 12-11-12

Christopher with his Grandma 12-23-12

     I am sure that at some point I will be a full-time care giver to my mother-in-law also. I am now wondering if I will get any type of retirement benefits at all and will I in the future have enough money to live comfortably on. Care givers rarely get paid for their time and if social security dries up 25 years from now what about me? What happens to those of us who choose to take care of the children and elderly. What kind of future do we have. I hope to have a husband who keeps  a good income into his 60’s but, I maybe the wife of a man who is suffering. It is likely that I will be his caregiver in his time of need. That I will spend the rest of my life  dedicated to the people I love and not the things that the world says I should have.

     It is a future that is full of hard work and frustration and low wages but it is “the right thing to do” for my family. I am not sure why I couldn’t get that abortion and continue to have a banking career that would lead me down the professional path with more money and better benefits. I am not sure why my brothers and I couldn’t make my mother stay in a house she hated so we could have sold it for more money and received more of an inheritance. I am not sure why I can’t say no to my mother in law if she calles me to help turn her husband over in his hospital bed and run to the store for medications and baby powder. I am not sure what I did to end up this type of woman, God just opened the door and I just grew into her.

   All I know is this, when you squeeze grapes  and let them age you get some of the finest wine in the world. Maybe, In my “big squeeze” I will bear the finest gifts for those I love  and that is my aim.  I just hope that others of Generation X know that they are not alone in the struggle to leave behind the “Me” part of our generation. It is not easy and I am not rich in material things but I am happy and content with my change from caring only for “me” to caring for the “we” in my family.

Me, my daughter-in-law Jamie , Christopher and my grand daughter Paige

Me, my daughter-in-law Jamie , Christopher and my grand-daughter Paige

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Categories: About me, child care, Family, Generation X, health, old age | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Generation X …trying to doing the right thing

  1. Sounds like you have a very full plate. I took care of my mom when she had Alzheimer’s, and it sure wasn’t easy. The thing you have to remember is to take care of the most important person first — YOU. I know it’s hard to do but if you don’t you’ll feel like you’re slowly drowning. Your in-laws are extremely fortunate to have you, as many older people have no one. I know it’s tough work but you can only do what you can. Remember, you have a husband and a young son that also need you.

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    • Sandy, it will be a little better soon… school will keep Christopher busy 4 days a week… I was thinking of even looking for a different job to make more money this fall but I think I need the time to work on me and look in on the in-laws… I dont think grandpa Jim willbe here after the holidays so what is 6 months out of my life to see that they are ok…who know what will fall in my lap at that point?

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  2. Some of that stuff began with my own hippie generation, not that that makes it any easier for those of your time. I’m past retirement age, technically ‘homeless’. I live one week with my Mum and one week with my Aunty, both in their 90s. My Aunty has dementia, but it’s not too bad at this point. I’ve done home care for pay and for love through a good part of my life. I, too, feel ‘called’ to do this; to give my elders the best care I can manage. I am lucky to have support from some of my sibs and also my friends. It’s easy to burn out and I’ve done that in the past; this time, I am making time for self-care each day and that is helping a lot. But, like you, I wonder what will be there at the end of it all for me. So I have developed what I think of as Plan B (Plan A is what I’m living now); I will put my energies into exploring the arts, music, languages, all the things I love that I haven’t made much time for in my life to date. Hang in there; what you are doing is definitely worth it, no matter if there is no money from it. In the end, we do grow so much from these choices, don’t we? And that is worth it. I was lucky to start life quite poor and spend much of my youth the same way (by choice so I could stay home with my sons); so if I have little later on, it will just be more of the same . . . and I have good survival skills when it comes to poverty. I know it’s hard most days, but even a half hour for yourself can make such a difference; try to take that, at least. Hugs to you. ~ Linne

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    • Linne thank you for the kind words… and yes I think it is a choice to live this way. I do try and find time for me too. actualy the blog is one of those “ME” things and now that Christopher is starting school I should be able to find more time in my schedule for my reading, drawing, and photography… It is nice to know that thier still others out their who make choices like these… So far I am one of a very few but many of the parents of my generation are just now in thier 60’s where I was born to a older mother and father and so was my husband… so we get to start the journey of old age a few year before my friends.

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  3. I want to apologize for my snarky comments. I selfishly was basing my thoughts on my own experience, which lasted several years while also taking care of my special needs daughter. I was also in my 60’s. You are a strong woman with a huge heart and I’m sure you’ll handle your situation beautifully. Again, your in-laws are very fortunate to have you in the family.

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    • oh my sandy I never ever thought you were snarky… I Loved that you took time to remind me that it is important to have me time… but at luck would have it… Jim passed away on Tue night… and we are just getting through the funneral and all now… cant wait to see you and Janice you to are the light of my month….

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  4. Jolynn-A very moving post. You have a lot to balance right now, particularly with your son so young. I’m glad you have your blog and other interests for a stress release. Take good care of yourself, as someone else wrote.

    But I admit it’s hard sometimes with all the demands.

    I admire your strength!

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  5. I really love this!

    Early on, every generation thinks they have all the answers. I was born in that tiny stretch of time between Generation X and the Millenials. I grew up with cable TV but not the Internet and not cell phones. I can relate to people 15-20 years older than me more than those 5-10 years younger. When I was a teacher, I used to lose sleep over the attitudes I saw among the youth. No one wants to leave home at 18, no one wants to get a job. They’ve been taught the world is “unsafe” with registered sex offenders and school shootings and that mommy and daddy will always be a text away. They don’t see the value in college education because their parents struggle with unemployment. They don’t care what is going on in the world because all they know is what is on facebook and wikipedia. They’ve stopped WANTING to think and imagine and be creative. I’ve had to deal with he entitlement attitude of “what am I going to get if I do this” instead of “do what’s right” in the classroom and I shudder to think I’ll eventually have to deal with this in the workplace.

    Perhaps, the younger generation will mellow out with time and age and having to face a harsh reality or two. But, I’m not counting on them to “take care of me” in my old age. I’ve learned that hardwork has its own rewards and that, at the end of the day, all that matters is being surrounded by the people you love.

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  6. WONDERFUL Post. Thanks for share. More wait .. …

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