The Middle Generation-Stuck between Worlds


Normally my posts are created around and about my author’s journey, but today I need to go a different direction, something a little more personal. 

My mom fell, again.

Five years ago, my husband and I moved from the west side to the east side of Washington state. Our younger son and his wife, who have three children, had just moved from Seattle to Hawaii, and since a visit across the Pacific Ocean required more than just jumping in car for a road trip, we decided to move closer to our other son, who also has three children.

Yes, you read that right—six beautiful grandchildren. I am truly blessed.

However, leaving the west side of the state also meant being 400 miles away from my mom. She’ll be 88 this October, and not in the best of health. The only thing that made this move away from my mother possible is that I have three other sisters, and a nephew and niece, who all live on the west side within 40 minutes or less, and they see her regularly. She lives in a retirement complex, and has a small group of close friends who also check in with her. Though I call my mother frequently, I’m not there physically for her, and that’s hard.

But when I got the text from one of my sisters to inform me that mom has fallen, one more time, well, to be honest, now I feel like a shithead for not being there. This tumble not only left her sore and bruised, but with two broken ribs! The worst part was that she was down for over an hour, dragging herself across the floor to the phone so she could call for help. Over an hour, with two broken ribs! That breaks my heart.

And yes, she does have a ‘I’ve fallen and can’t get up!’ call button hanging on a chain that she’s supposed to wear all the time, but obviously, she didn’t have it on that day.

Moving to the east side gave us the opportunity to spend more time with our grandchildren, though I recognize that our quality time with our teen-age granddaughters is quickly becoming limited. The sleepovers and spending the weekend at Papa and Gigi’s house just because it’s fun; going to the aquatic center; going for bike rides; and just hanging with the grandparents because we’re cool!, well, not so much anymore. Basketball, events at school, hanging with friends, talking about boys, and making TikTok videos seems to be the priority for the girls these days, as it should be.

Over the last five years watching these girls grow out of their childish antics into beautiful, confident young women has been a joy I’m grateful to have shared and experienced. If we had stayed on the west side of the state, we would have missed out on all of these wonderful moments—because they are so fleeting!

(And don’t even get me started on what I’m missing out on with the grandchildren in Hawaii! ~~whine and pout~~)

As I write this, I feel as if I’m trying to justify my reason for being so far away from my mom, and why it hurts so much. It’s because I know I won’t have her in my life forever, she’s injured and I should be there with her. Though my sisters all tell me not to feel bad, I do. I feel as if I’m stuck between two worlds.

—Sorry- gotta take a moment to cry—-

Okay, I’m back. Warrior mask in place. Now, where was I?…Oh yeah, trying to justify why I live so far away from mom…

Today we have the ability to travel great distances in short periods of time, and, for the most part, do so in relative comfort; car, plane, train or ship. Before the modern transportation systems were invented, people didn’t move all that far from their original roots. A fifty-mile trek on horseback or buggy took three days, and there were no rest stops with flushing toilets or fast-food facilities available along the route.

Because of these modern byways and travel options, families no longer have to live within fifty-miles of each other and still be able to see one another, at least once in a while. (Well, unless you’re one of those who can’t get far enough away because your family absolutely drives you insane and you’re completely convinced that you were adopted, though no one will fess up!) Then, sometimes a move is necessary, and clear across the county may not be far enough.

Since hubby and I already have a trip scheduled to the west side next month, and due to the high price of gas these days, making a trip over right now, just to ease my conscious, really doesn’t make a lot of logical sense. Mom is not alone. She has help. However, knowing that doesn’t ease the guilt I feel for not being there right now.

I know that a lot of people my age are dealing with aging parents and struggling to find that balance. We need to spend time with all the generations in our families; the elderly and the young. Plus, on top of that, we need to carve out time for ourselves, for our partners, our jobs, or whatever daily duties we have on our plate, and make sure that we are taking care of our own health.

These are all priorities, and in theory, should all be doable. But in practice, in real life, well, this is sometimes easier to say that it is to do.

And therein lies the guilt. I can’t be everywhere, accomplish all I want to achieve, and still please everyone. That’s just not realistic. But I feel the imbalance of this (wrongly perceived) shortcoming of mine distracting me from finding harmony in my daily life; I’m falling short of living up to my expectations. The expectations I put on myself as a daughter, as a wife, as a grandmother, and as a self-published author (with all the bells and whistles that entails!) can sometimes be just too much to juggle and still hold onto my sanity.

That’s why I write. I write this blog to express myself in the only way I know how, and that helps to keep me sane. Well, sane on most days. Though, actually, isn’t sane a subjective term, depending on who you ask? (So, please, just don’t ask my husband!)

Hopefully I still have a few more years with my mother, and that there’ll be more opportunities to spend quality time with her while she ’s on this earth. I’m also looking forward to see my granddaughters attend their first high school prom, watch them develop as athletes and grow into beautiful young women. Right behind them is their little brother, and there’s a lot of memories still yet to be made with that little guy!

So, for today, I’m going to follow up with my mother and be grateful for the time we have left together; let my husband know how important he is to me; and when I can, I’m going to embrace every quality moment with those grandchildren. Life is about living, and the people who we share the moments in between our entrance and exit; our birth and our death. Since we don’t know how many tomorrows we have with our loved-ones, embracing them today seems like a sound idea.

Finding the balance, while still being kind to myself, well, that’s a work in progress.

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